About this topic

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
Related categories

43 found
  1. Seeing.M. J. Baker - 1954 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (March):377-385.
  2. 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 (...)
  3. 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.
  4. The Best With What We Have: A Threefold Metaphysics of Perception.Andrea Bucci - 2018 - Brainfactor:1-11.
    In this paper I will try to outline a Metaphysics of Perception that takes for granted one of the central thesis of the metaphysical doctrine called Indirect Realism. Firstly, I will introduce the central thesis of Indirect Realism and then a special version of the Causal Theory of Perception that modifies in some fundamental respect one of the most influential version of Causal Theory of Perception designed by William Child.
  5. 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 (...)
  6. 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.
  7. 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 (...)
  8. 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 (...)
  9. 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 (...)
  10. 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.
  11. On Seeing Things.Frank B. Ebersole - 1961 - Philosophical Quarterly 11 (October):289-300.
  12. In What Sense Two Persons Perceive the Same Thing.George Stuart Fullerton - 1907 - Philosophical Review 16 (5):506-518.
  13. 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 (...)
  14. 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.
  15. 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 (...)
  16. 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 (...)
  17. 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 (...)
  18. 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.
  19. 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 (...)
  20. 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).
  21. The Relation of Consciousness and Object in Sense-Perception.Evander Bradley McGilvary - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (2):152-173.
  22. The Representationalism Versus Relationalism Debate: Explanatory Contextualism About Perception.Bence Nanay - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (1):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 (...)
  23. Is Object-Seeing Really Propositional Seeing?John O. Nelson - 1985 - Philosophical Topics 13 (2):231-238.
  24. Acquaintance, Conceptual Capacities, and Attention.Anders Nes - forthcoming - In Jonathan Knowles & Thomas Raleigh (eds.), Acquaintance: New Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
  25. Epistemic Seeing and Objectivity.Paul O'Connor - 1976 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 14 (4):471-483.
  26. 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 (...)
  27. Basic Seeing.A. E. Pitson - 1984 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45 (September):121-130.
  28. 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 (...)
  29. Das Bild Als Eigenständiges Semiotisches System.Martina Sauer - 2016 - In Natalia Igl Julia Menzel (ed.), Illustrierte Zeitschriften um 1900. Mediale Eigenlogik, Multimodalität und Metaisierung. transcript. pp. 137-165.
    Do we communicate with pictures? If so, the text asks, what about their complex, dynamic appearances? Are they part of the communication process? By analysing a cover image of the journal Jugend from 1896 and by consulting the research on the logic of pictures (“Eigenlogik”) in Bildwissenschaft, Iconology and Cultural Anthropology these questions shall be persued. The analysis suggests, that instead of consenting the results of epistemological aesthetic research a new understanding of pictures shall be implemented: They can be considered (...)
  30. Lambert Wiesing, Sehen lassen. Die Praxis des Zeigens, Berlin 2013. [REVIEW]Martina Sauer - 2014 - Sehepunkte. Rezensionsjournal für Geschichtswissenschaften 14 (3).
  31. To Austin or Not to Austin, That's the Disjunction.Robert Schwartz - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):255-263.
  32. How Does Phenomenology Constrain Object-Seeing?Susanna Siegel - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):429 – 441.
    Perception provides a form of contact with the world and the other people in it. For example, we can learn that Franco is sitting in his chair by seeing Franco; we can learn that his hair is gray by seeing the colour of his hair. Such perception enables us to understand primitive forms of language, such as demonstrative expressions.
  33. 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.
  34. 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 (...)
  35. Seeing Intersecting Eclipses.Roy Sorensen - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):25.
  36. Reflections on Surfaces.Avrum Stroll - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):191-210.
  37. The Relation of Consciousness and Object in Sense-Perception.Frank Thilly - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (4):415-432.
  38. Seeing.G. J. Warnock - 1954 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 55:201-218.
  39. The Many Streams in Ralph Pred’s Onflow. [REVIEW]Anderson Weekes - 2006 - Chromatikon: Annales de la Philosophie En Procès / Yearbook of Philosophy in Process 2:227-244.
    This study of Ralph Pred’s Onflow (MIT Press, 2005) expands on Pred’s arguments and raises doubts about the viability of phenomenology. Showing that Pred’s method is indeed phenomenological, I validate his interpretations of William James as phenomenologist and his critique of John Searle in light of James, which documents the extent to which the role of habit in the constitution of experience is neglected by philosophers. In explaining habit, however, Pred himself reverts to non-phenomenological models drawn from James’ postulate of (...)
  40. 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 (...)
  41. Consciousness and Object.Frederick J. E. Woodbridge - 1912 - Philosophical Review 21 (6):633-640.
  42. Seeing, Seeing, and Feeling.Eddy M. Zemach - 1969 - Review of Metaphysics 23 (September):3-24.
  43. 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 (...)