Speech Perception

In Mohan Matthen (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press (2015)
Authors
Casey O'Callaghan
Washington University in St. Louis
Abstract
Is speech special? This paper evaluates the evidence that speech perception is distinctive when compared with non-linguistic auditory perception. It addresses the phenomenology, contents, objects, and mechanisms involved in the perception of spoken language. According to the account it proposes, the capacity to perceive speech in a manner that enables understanding is an acquired perceptual skill. It involves learning to hear language-specific types of ethologically significant sounds. According to this account, the contents of perceptual experience when listening to familiar speech are of a variety that is distinctive to hearing spoken utterances. However, perceiving speech involves neither novel perceptual objects nor a unique perceptual modality. Much of what makes speech special stems from our interest in it.
Keywords speech perception  hearing  McGurk  perceptual content
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