Sensory Substitution and the Challenge from Acclimatisation

In Fiona Macpherson (ed.), Sensory Substitution and Augmentation. Oxford: pp. 73-93 (2019)
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Abstract

A refined characterisation of sensory substitution has, as a consequence, that the substituting sense plus sensory substitution device is not always appropriately classified as the substituted sense. As a result, I argue, acclimatisation to a sensory substitution device is plausibly thought of as providing presentations of properties. Externalist accounts of experience together with objectivist characterisations of such properties have the upshot that properties putatively proprietary to a sense modality can be presented in another modality in cases of substitution. I consider three objections to this argument. I close by explaining how reflection on the phenomena of sensory substitution and, in particular, acclimatisation is important for the development of any kind of representationalist or relationist theory of phenomenal properties or, at the very least, suggests we need to refine the idea of certain properties - rather than particular ways in which their presentation is bundled together - being proprietary to the particular senses.

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Paul Noordhof
University of York

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