Determining the primary problem of visual perception: A Gibsonian response to the correlation' objection

Philosophical Psychology 5 (1):69-94 (1992)
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Abstract

Fodor & Pylyshyn (1981) criticize J. J. Gibson's ecological account of perception for failing to address what I call the 'correlation problem' in visual perception. That is, they charge that Gibson cannot explain how perceivers learn to correlate detectable properties of the light with perceptible properties of the environment. Furthermore, they identify the correlation problem as a crucial issue for any theory of visual perception, what I call a 'primary problem'—i.e. a problem which plays a definitive role in establishing the concerns of a particular scientific research program. If they are correct, Gibson's failure to resolve this problem would cast considerable doubt upon his ecological approach to perception. In response, I argue that both Fodor & Pylyshyn's problem itself and their proposed inferential solution embody a significant mistake which needs to be eliminated from our thinking about visual perception. As part of my response, I also suggest a Gibsonian alternative to Fodor & Pylyshyn's primary problem formulation

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