In Deflating Mental Representation (The 2021 Jean Nicod Lectures) (forthcoming)
AbstractIn the philosophy of perception, representationalism is the view that all phenomenological differences among mental states are representational differences, in other words, differences in content. In this paper I defend an alternative view which I call external sortalism, inspired by traditional adverbialism, and according to which experiences are not essentially representational. The central idea is that the external world serves as a model for sorting, conceptualizing, and reasoning surrogatively about perceptual experience. On external sortalism, contents are construed as a kind of gloss on experiences themselves. We can retain what is attractive about representationalism, namely, that perceptual experiences can be evaluated for accuracy, without problematic commitment to the idea that they bear a substantive, representational relation to external objects and properties and that this relation determines the phenomenal character of experience.
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