Dissertation, Princeton University (2002)
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This dissertation is about sounds and auditory perception. It is motivated in the spirit of work on the metaphysics and perception of color. In Chapter 1, I motivate and develop an account according to which sounds are events. In particular, a sound is the event of an object or interacting bodies disturbing a surrounding medium in a wave-like manner. The sound just is the disturbance event itself. I develop this 'Event View' of sounds to account for several pervasive sound-related phenomena, including sound wave transmission through barriers and constructive and destructive interference. ;The subject of Chapter 2 is echoes. I argue that echo experiences are illusory experiences of ordinary primary sounds. Just as there is no new object that we see at the surface of a mirror, there is no new sound that we hear at a reflecting surface. Rather, the sound we hear as an echo just is the original sound, though its perception involves illusions of place, time, and qualities. The case of echoes need not force us to adopt a conception according to which sounds are persisting object-like particulars that travel through space. ;A theory of sounds must address the audible qualities: pitch, loudness, and timbre. In Chapter 3 I argue that despite the failures of simple forms of physicalism about the audible qualities to account for psychophysical evidence, a promising form of physicalism can be developed on the basis of recent accounts of pitch experience. According to this alternative view, pitch is a physical property that sounds possess independently of their relations to perceivers, and is not the "subjective correlate of frequency." Pitch, however, is interesting only from an anthropocentric perspective. ;In Appendix A, I begin to develop the alternative view proposed in Chapter 3. Recent work on critical bands provides the basis for the account of pitch I advocate. Finally, I argue that the account in terms of critical bands can be extended to provide candidates for the properties of timbre and loudness



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