Singular Experiences (With and Without Objects)

In Robert French, Berit Brogaard & Otavio Bueno (eds.), The Roles of Representations in Visual Perception. Springer (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Perceptual experiences seem to in some sense have singular contents. For example, a perceptual experience of a dog as fluffy seems to represent some particular dog as being fluffy. There are important phenomenological, intuitive, and semantic considerations for thinking that perceptual experiences represent singular contents, but there are also important phenomenological, epistemic, and metaphysical considerations for thinking that they do not. This paper proposes a two-tier picture of the content of singular perceptual experiences that is based on phenomenal intentionality theories of intentionality combined with self-ascriptivism about derived representation, a combination of views that allows mental states to have two types of contents: phenomenal contents and derived contents. On the proposed picture, singular perceptual experiences represent singular phenomenal contents, which do not involve worldly objects, as well as singular derived contents, which do involve worldly objects. This picture accommodates and reconciles the considerations for and against thinking that perceptual experiences have singular contents.

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Angela Mendelovici
University of Western Ontario

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References found in this work

The Problem of Perception.Tim Crane & Craig French - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Consciousness, Explanatory Inversion and Cognitive Science.John R. Searle - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (1):585-642.
Perception and the Reach of Phenomenal Content.Tim Bayne - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):385-404.
Do Visual Experiences Have Contents?Susanna Siegel - 2010 - In Bence -Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press.

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