Embodiment and the Perceptual Hypothesis

Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):569 - 591 (2012)
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Abstract

The Perceptual Hypothesis is that we sometimes see, and thereby have non-inferential knowledge of, others' mental features. The Perceptual Hypothesis opposes Inferentialism, which is the view that our knowledge of others' mental features is always inferential. The claim that some mental features are embodied is the claim that some mental features are realised by states or processes that extend beyond the brain. The view I discuss here is that the Perceptual Hypothesis is plausible if, but only if, the mental features it claims we see are suitably embodied. Call this Embodied Perception Theory. I argue that Embodied Perception Theory is false. It doesn't follow that the Perceptual Hypothesis is implausible. The considerations which serve to undermine Embodied Perception Theory serve equally to undermine the motivations for assuming that others' mental lives are always imperceptible

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William E. S. McNeill
University of Southampton

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