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Summary

There are three questions structuring the debate on perceptual relations. One question concerns the connection between perceptual relations to the environment and the representational content of experiences. Are perceptual relations or perceptual representations more fundamental in an account of the nature of perceptual experience? Austere relationalists have it that perceptual relations to the environment are more fundamental than any representations. Austere representationalists have it that representations are more fundamental than any perceptual relations to the environment. Hybrid views have it that perceptual experience is fundamentally both relational and representational. A second question is whether we are perceptually related to particulars or universals. Direct realists have it that we are perceptually related to particulars such as objects, events, and property-instances in our environment. Likewise, sense-data theorists have it that we are related to particulars, but understand the particulars in play to be strange particulars, namely sense-data. While it is compatible with a representationalist view to hold that we are perceptually related to particulars in our environment, at least some representationalists have it that we are perceptually related to properties and so to universals rather than particulars. A third question concerns the nature of the relation. Is the perceptual relation a causal relation, is it a sensory relation such as an awareness relation, or is it an epistemic relation such as an acquaintance relation?

Key works Brewer (Brewer 2011), Campbell (Campbell 2002), and Martin (Martin 1997) defend austere relationalist views. For a discussion of how to think of perceptual relations, see Dretske (Dretske 1981). For causal theories of perception, see the category with that title. 
Introductions Crane 2006Schellenberg 2010
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45 found
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  1. Realism and Perceptual Appearance.Mark Eli Kalderon - manuscript
    In his 1904 letter to G.F. Stout, Cook Wilson distinguishes objective and sub- jective conceptions of appearance, and provides a diagnosis for the modern acceptance of the subjective conception in terms of a confused misdescrip- tion of the objective appearances that perceptual experience affords. More- over, Cook Wilson links subjective appearances with idealism, the suggestion being that perceptual appearances must be objective if they are to afford us with something akin to proof of a world without the mind.
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  2. On Gilbert Harman's The Intrisic Quality of Experience.Tim Klaassen - manuscript
    I propose that there are two kind's of qualia realism, and that Harman's observations about the transparency of experience pose a threat to only one of these.
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  3. The Subject-Dependency of Perceptual Objects.Błażej Skrzypulec - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    Entities that are, in ordinary perceptual situations, veridically presented as objects can be called ‘perceptual objects’. In the philosophical literature, one can find various approaches to the crucial features that distinguish the class of perceptual objects. While these positions differ in many respects, they share an important general feature: they all characterize perceptual objects as largely subject-independent. More specifically, they do not attribute a significant constitutive role to the perceptual relation connecting a fragment of the environment with a perceiving subject. (...)
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  4. Social Enactivism About Perception—Reply to McGann.Alejandro Arango - 2019 - Adaptive Behavior 27 (2):161-162.
    In his comment, McGann argues that in my “From Sensorimotor Dependencies to Perceptual Practices: Making Enactivism Social,” I have overlooked a group of enactivist theories that can be grouped under the participatory sense-making label. In this reply, I explain that the omission is due to the fact that such theories are not accounts of perception. It is argued that, unlike participatory sense-making, the approach of the “From Sensorimotor Dependencies to Perceptual Practices” article does not focus on the perceptual aspects of (...)
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  5. Acquaintance, Conceptual Capacities, and Attention.Anders Nes - 2019 - In Jonathan Knowles & Thomas Raleigh (eds.), Acquaintance: New Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 191-212.
    Russell’s theory of acquaintance construes perceptual awareness as at once constitutively independent of conceptual thought and yet a source of propositional knowledge. Wilfrid Sellars, John McDowell, and other conceptualists object that this is a ‘myth’: perception can be a source of knowledge only if conceptual capacities are already in play therein. Proponents of a relational view of experience, including John Campbell, meanwhile voice sympathy for Russell’s position on this point. This paper seeks to spell out, and defend, a claim that (...)
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  6. Perspectivalism in the Development of Scientific Observer-Relativity.Lydia Patton - 2019 - In Martin Kusch, Katherina Kinzel, Johannes Steizinger & Niels Jacob Wildschut (eds.), The Emergence of Relativism. New York: Routledge. pp. 63-78.
    Hermann von Helmholtz allows for not only physiological facts and psychological inferences, but also perspectival reasoning, to influence perceptual experience and knowledge gained from perception. But Helmholtz also defends a version of the view according to which there can be a kind of “perspectival truth” revealed in scientific research and investigation. Helmholtz argues that the relationships between subjective and objective, real and actual, actual and illusory, must be analyzed scientifically, within experience. There is no standpoint outside experience from which we (...)
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  7. The Uneasy Heirs of Acquaintance.Susanna Siegel - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):348-365.
    My contribution to the first round of a tetralog with Bill Brewer, Anil Gupta, and John McDowell. Each of us has written a response to the writings of the other three philosophers on the topic "Empirical Reason". My initial contribution focuses on what we know a priori about perception. In the second round, we will each respond to the each writer's first-round contributions.
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  8. Naive Realism and the Scientific Narration of Perception.Andrea Bucci - 2018 - Brainfactor:01-05.
    Naive realism is a widely debated topic in the philosophy of the mind. In this article I will review the theses of naive realism through the works of one of the most influential philosophers who supported and developed them, Michael Martin. Once the reasons why naive realism should be supported are discussed, I will propose an empirical argument to show that naive realism and the most basic scientific knowledge of perceptive processes are contradictory.
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  9. Experiential Pluralism and the Power of Perception.Mark Eli Kalderon - 2018 - In John Collins & Tamara Dobler (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis, Language, Thought, and Perception. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 222-236.
    Sight is a capacity, and seeing is its exercise. Reflection on the sense in which sight is for the sake of seeing reveals distinct relations of dependence between sight and seeing, the capacity and its exercise. Moreover, these relations of dependence in turn reveal the nature of our perceptual capacities and their exercise. Specifically, if sight is for the sake of seeing, then sight will depend, in a certain sense, upon seeing, in a manner inconsistent with experiential monism. Thus reflection (...)
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  10. Minds and Objects.Helen Steward - 2017 - The Philosophers' Magazine 76:96-101.
    This short article is intended to be comprehensible to an interested general audience, and considers some different ways in which philosophers have attempted to answer the question ‘What is it to have a mind?’ Some problems with what is now a popular strategy, making use of the notion of representational content, are raised, focusing particularly on Tyler Burge’s attempt to utilise facts gleaned from perceptual (and in particular visual) psychology in order to make tractable the question which animals, exactly, may (...)
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  11. Relationalism and Unconscious Perception.Jacob Berger & Bence Nanay - 2016 - Analysis 76 (4):426-433.
    Relationalism holds that perceptual experiences are relations between subjects and perceived objects. But much evidence suggests that perceptual states can be unconscious. We argue here that unconscious perception raises difficulties for relationalism. Relationalists would seem to have three options. First, they may deny that there is unconscious perception or question whether we have sufficient evidence to posit it. Second, they may allow for unconscious perception but deny that the relationalist analysis applies to it. Third, they may offer a relationalist explanation (...)
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  12. Naïve Realism and Phenomenological Directness: Reply to Millar.Erhan Demircioglu - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1897-1910.
    In this paper, I respond to Millar’s recent criticism of naïve realism. Millar provides several arguments for the thesis that there are powerful phenomenological grounds for preferring the content view to naïve realism. I intend to show that Millar’s arguments are not convincing.
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  13. Dysjunktywizm i natura percepcyjnej relacji.Paweł Zięba - 2016 - Analiza I Egzystencja 35:87-111.
    This paper surveys selected (though arguably representative) versions of metaphysical and epistemological disjunctivism. Although they share a common logical structure, it is hard to find a further common denominator among them. Two main conclusions are: (1) a specific standpoint on the nature of perceptual relation is not such a common denominator, which means that it is very unlikely that all of these views could be refuted with a single objection; (2) contrary to what its name suggests, disjunctivism can be correctly (...)
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  14. The Representationalism Versus Relationalism Debate: Explanatory Contextualism About Perception.Bence Nanay - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (2):321-336.
    There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to representationalism, perceptual states are representations: they represent the world as being a certain way. They have content, which may or may not be different from the content of beliefs. They represent objects as having properties, sometimes veridically, sometimes not. According to relationalism, perception is a relation between the agent and the perceived object. Perceived objects are literally constituents of our perceptual states and not of the contents thereof. Perceptual (...)
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  15. A Direct Object of Perception.Mika Suojanen - 2015 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 22 (1):28-36.
    I will use three simple arguments to refute the thesis that I appear to directly perceive a mind-independent material object. The theses I will use are similar to the time-gap argument and the argument from the relativity of perception. The visual object of imagination and the object of experience are in the same place. They also share common qualities such as the content, subjectivity, change in virtue of conditions of observers, and the like. This leads to the conclusion that both (...)
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  16. Lambert Wiesing, Sehen lassen. Die Praxis des Zeigens, Berlin 2013. [REVIEW]Martina Sauer - 2014 - Sehepunkte. Rezensionsjournal für Geschichtswissenschaften 14 (3).
  17. Review Of: Charles Travis, Perception: Essays After Frege. [REVIEW]Keith Wilson - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2014 (April).
    Charles Travis’s new collection on perception brings together eleven of his previously published essays on this topic, some of which are substantially revised, plus one new essay. The intentionally ambiguous subtitle hints at the author’s endorsement of Fregean anti-psychologism, though influences from Wittgenstein and Austin are equally apparent. The work centres around two major questions in the philosophy of mind and perception. First, Travis argues against the view that perceptual experience, as distinct from perceptual judgement or belief, is representational, and (...)
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  18. Awareness of Abstract Objects.Elijah Chudnoff - 2013 - Noûs 47 (4):706-726.
    Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract objects? Second, the Grounding (...)
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  19. Perception Without Propositions.Christopher Gauker - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):19-50.
    In recent years, many philosophers have supposed that perceptual representations have propositional content. A prominent rationale for this supposition is the assumption that perceptions may justify beliefs, but this rationale can be doubted. This rationale may be doubted on the grounds that there do not seem to be any viable characterizations of the belief-justifying propositional contents of perceptions. An alternative is to model perceptual representations as marks in a perceptual similarity space. A mapping can be defined between points in perceptual (...)
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  20. Color Illusion.Mark Eli Kalderon - 2011 - Noûs 45 (4):751-775.
    As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the standard conception (...)
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  21. Perception and the Ontology of Causation.Helen Steward - 2011 - In Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman & Naomi Eilan (eds.), Perception, Causation, and Objectivity. Oxford University Press. pp. 139.
    The paper argues that the reconciliation of the Causal Theory of Perception with Disjunctivism requires the rejection of causal particularism – the idea that the ontology of causation is always and everywhere an ontology of particulars (e.g., events). The so-called ‘Humean Principle’ that causes must be distinct from their effects is argued to be a genuine barrier to any purported reconciliation, provided causal particularism is retained; but extensive arguments are provided for the rejection of causal particularism. It is then explained (...)
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  22. Perceptual Presence.Jason Leddington - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (4):482-502.
    Plausibly, any adequate theory of perception must (a) solve what Alva Noë calls 'the problem of perceptual presence,' and (b) do justice to the direct realist idea that what is given in perception are garden-variety spatiotemporal particulars. This paper shows that, while Noë's sensorimotor view arguably satisfies the first of these conditions, it does not satisfy the second. Moreover, Noë is wrong to think that a naïve realist approach to perception cannot handle the problem of perceptual presence. Section three of (...)
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  23. What’s the Role of Spatial Awareness in Visual Perception of Objects?John Campbell - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (5):548–562.
    I set out two theses. The first is Lynn Robertson’s: (a) spatial awareness is a cause of object perception. A natural counterpoint is: (b) spatial awareness is a cause of your ability to make accurate verbal reports about a perceived object. Zenon Pylyshyn has criticized both. I argue that nonetheless, the burden of the evidence supports both (a) and (b). Finally, I argue conscious visual perception of an object has a different causal role to both: (i) non-conscious perception of the (...)
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  24. Is There a Perceptual Relation?Tim Crane - 2006 - In Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experiences. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 126-146.
    P.F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as … an immediate consciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of the elms; I see the dappled deer (...)
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  25. How Does Visual Phenomenology Constrain Object-Seeing?Susanna Siegel - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):429-441.
    I argue that there are phenomenological constraints on what it is to see an object, and that these are overlooked by some theories that offer allegedly sufficient causal and counterfactual conditions on object-seeing.
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  26. The Problem of Perception.Tim Crane - 2005 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Sense-perception—the awareness or apprehension of things by sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste—has long been a preoccupation of philosophers. One pervasive and traditional problem, sometimes called “the problem of perception”, is created by the phenomena of perceptual illusion and hallucination: if these kinds of error are possible, how can perception be what it intuitively seems to be, a direct and immediate access to reality? The present entry is about how these possibilities of error challenge the intelligibility of the phenomenon of (...)
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  27. The Veil of Perception and Contextual Relativism.Dimitris Platchias - 2004 - Sorites 15 (December):76-86.
    In this paper I point out main shortfalls of the three main families of theories of perception and I propose a sort of inferential realism. In addition, I argue that there cannot be a scientific variant of direct realism and illustrate this point with reference to P.F.Strawson's attempt to reconcile, not naïve realism and the scientific variant as he amounts to, but rather, direct and indirect realism. I draw the distinction between four cases of illusion, and I refer to one (...)
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  28. To Austin or Not to Austin, That's the Disjunction.Robert Schwartz - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):255-263.
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  29. We See in the Dark.Roy Sorensen - 2004 - Noûs 38 (3):456-480.
    Do we need light to see? I argue that the black experience of a man in a perfectly dark cave is a representation of an absence of light, not an absence of representation. There is certainly a difference between his perceptual knowledge and that of his blind companion. Only the sighted man can tell whether the cave is dark just by looking. But perhaps he is merely inferring darkness from his failure to see. To get an unambiguous answer, I switch (...)
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  30. The Role of Perception in Demonstrative Reference.Susanna Siegel - 2002 - Philosophers' Imprint 2:1-21.
    Siegel defends "Limited Intentionism", a theory of what secures the semantic reference of uses of bare demonstratives ("this", "that" and their plurals). According to Limited Intentionism, demonstrative reference is fixed by perceptually anchored intentions on the part of the speaker.
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  31. Do We See with Microscopes?Elisabeth Pacherie - 1995 - The Monist 78 (2):171-188.
    Trying to understand better the role played by epistemic artifacts in our quest for reliable knowledge, it is interesting to compare their contribution with the one made by the epistemic organs or systems with which we are naturally endowed. This comparative approach may yield the further benefit of an improved understanding of the nature and epistemic functions of our natural epistemic equipment. In this paper, I shall concern myself with comparing the role of a family of instruments, microscopes, with that (...)
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  32. Reflections on Surfaces.Avrum Stroll - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):191-210.
    Can there be a first-order, philosophical or psychological theory that explains all the facts of surface perception? By ‘first-order’ I mean a theory about the constituents of what J.J. Gibson called ‘the ecological environment’; and by ‘surface perception,’ I mean the perception of the surfaces of any of those ecological constituents that have surfaces. The question about surfaces is important for two reasons. First, as we shall see, they are complex features and, as such, provide a difficult test case for (...)
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  33. Is Object-Seeing Really Propositional Seeing?John O. Nelson - 1985 - Philosophical Topics 13 (2):231-238.
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  34. Basic Seeing.A. E. Pitson - 1984 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45 (September):121-130.
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  35. Perception and Animal Belief.L. S. Carrier - 1980 - Philosophy 55 (212):193 - 209.
    I argue that sentences ascribing beliefs to non-human animals have the same logical form as sentences of the "perceives that" variety. Pace D.M. Armstrong, I argue that animal belief sentences can be referentially opaque, just as perception sentences containing a propositional clause are. In both cases, referential opacity requires our assuming that the animal believer and the human perceiver has each identified the object of the belief or perception.
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  36. Epistemic Seeing and Objectivity.Paul O'Connor - 1976 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 14 (4):471-483.
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  37. Seeing, Seeing, and Feeling.Eddy M. Zemach - 1969 - Review of Metaphysics 23 (1):3-24.
    CAN ONE SEE THE GIRL ONE LOVES, or one's deceased mother, in one's dreams? When one presses one's finger against one's eyeball, or when one has consumed large quantities of alcohol, does saying that one is seeing double correctly describe the experience? Then again, can one really see an approaching vessel on the radar screen, or hear Maria Callas on a record, or see the President on T.V.?
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  38. On Seeing Things.Frank B. Ebersole - 1961 - Philosophical Quarterly 11 (October):289-300.
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  39. Seeing.G. J. Warnock - 1955 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 55:201-218.
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  40. Seeing.M. J. Baker - 1954 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (March):377-385.
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  41. The Relation of Consciousness and Object in Sense-Perception.Evander Bradley McGilvary - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (2):152-173.
  42. The Relation of Consciousness and Object in Sense-Perception.Frank Thilly - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (4):415-432.
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  43. Consciousness and Object.Frederick J. E. Woodbridge - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (6):633-640.
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  44. Oxford Realism: Perception.Mark Eli Kalderon & Charles Travis - manuscript
    This is the third and final section of a paper, "Oxford Realism", co-written with Charles Travis. -/- A concern for realism motivates a fundamental strand of Oxford reflection on perception. Begin with the realist conception of knowledge. The question then will be: What must perception be like if we can know something about an object without the mind by seeing it? What must perception be if it can, on occasion, afford us with proof concerning a subject matter independent of the (...)
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  45. Something Mental is Just in the Head, and What the Mental Out of the Head is Like.Arvan Marcus - manuscript
    In, “Why Nothing Mental is Just in The Head,” Justin Fisher (Noȗs, 2007) uses a novel thought-experiment to argue that every form of mental internalism is false. This paper shows that Fisher fails to refute mental internalism, and that a new variant of his example actually (a) confirms a form of mental internalism, as well as (b) John Locke's “resemblance thesis,” thereby (c) disconfirming all externalist theories of mental content (the type of theory Fisher takes his original example to prove).
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