Experience, action and affordance perception


The aim for this thesis is to motivate, critically evaluate and defend the claim that subjects are able to consciously perceive the affordances of objects. I will present my protagonist, the ‘Conscious Affordance Theorist’, with what are two main obstacles to this claim. The first of these is that affordance perception correctly understood refers only to a kind of subpersonal visual processing, and not to a kind of conscious visual experience. I claim that this results in an explanatory gap at the level of intentional action, which in order to correct we need to redefine the notion of affordance perception to include conscious as well as subpersonal affordance perception. Precisely, I claim that ‘affordance awareness’ has a crucial epistemological role to play, and that subjects must be able to consciously experience affordances in order to gain this awareness. In answer to this claim, I supplement the objection that affordance perception is defined as subpersonal perception to include the claim that any awareness subjects have of the affordances of objects they visually experience is due to them having thoughts about those affordances, and not visual experience of them. I then consider the Conscious Affordance Theorist’s response to this supplemented account. The second obstacle is the claim that conscious visual affordance perception is an impossible notion given that affordances are dispositional properties, and the dispositional properties of objects cannot be ‘seen’. In facing this objection I look to the supporting claims and motivations that lie behind it, in order to find a way for the Conscious Affordance Theorist to challenge its central claim that affordances cannot be seen. I end this thesis with an account of the Conscious Affordance Theorist’s own positive position, and a consideration of how his account has the ability to provide for conscious affordance perception in the case of non-human animals



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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Reference and Consciousness.John Campbell - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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