Seeing What You Want

Consciousness and Cognition 36:554-564 (2015)
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There has been recent interest in the hypothesis that we can directly perceive some of each other’s mental features. One popular strategy for defending that hypothesis is to claim that some mental features are embodied in a way that makes them available to perception. Here I argue that this view would imply a particular limit on the kinds of mental feature that would be perceptible (§2). I sketch reasons for thinking that the view is not yet well-motivated (§3). And I present an alternative, epistemological strategy (§4). The epistemological strategy is to discern which features of our environment are perceptible by reflection on our capacity to identify them. If the epistemological strategy is accepted it becomes plausible that we sometimes directly perceive some of each other’s mental features. But it becomes implausible to suppose that our perceptual access is limited in the way the embodied view would imply. I end by sketching reasons to think that we sometimes directly perceive each other’s desires (§5).



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William E. S. McNeill
University of Southampton

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References found in this work

Compassionate phenomenal conservatism.Michael Huemer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):30–55.
Seeing mind in action.Joel Krueger - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (2):149-173.
Direct perception in the intersubjective context.Shaun Gallagher - 2008 - Consciousness and Cognition 17 (2):535-543.
A priori knowledge and the scope of philosophy.George Bealer - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):121-142.

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