This book is about the interweaving between cognitive penetrability and the epistemic role of the two stages of perception, namely early and late vision, in justifying perceptual beliefs. It examines the impact of the epistemic role of perception in defining cognitive penetrability and the relation between the epistemic role of perceptual stages and the kinds of cognitive effects on perceptual processing. The book presents the argument that early vision is cognitively impenetrable because neither is it affected directly (...) by cognition, nor does cognition affect its epistemic role. It also argues that late vision, even though it is cognitively penetrated and, thus, affected by concepts, is still a perceptual state that does not involve any discursive inferences and does not belong to the space of reasons. Finally, an account is given as to how cognitive states with symbolic content could affect perceptual states with iconic, analog content, during late vision. (shrink)
Perception is typically distinguished from cognition. For example, seeing is importantly different from believing. And while what one sees clearly influences what one thinks, it is debatable whether what one believes and otherwise thinks can influence, in some direct and non-trivial way, what one sees. The latter possible relation is the cognitivepenetration of perception. Cognitivepenetration, if it occurs, has implications for philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. This paper offers (...) an analysis of the phenomenon, its theoretical consequences, and a variety of experimental results and possible interpretations of them. The paper concludes by proposing some constraints for analyses and definitions of cognitive penetrability. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptual justification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.
If our experiences are cognitively penetrable, they can be influenced by our antecedent expectations, beliefs, or other cognitive states. Theorists such as Churchland, Fodor, Macpherson, and Siegel have debated whether and how our cognitive states might influence our perceptual experiences, as well as how any such influences might affect the ability of our experiences to justify our beliefs about the external world. This article surveys views about the nature of cognitivepenetration, the epistemological consequences of denying (...)cognitivepenetration, and the epistemological consequences of affirming cognitivepenetration. (shrink)
Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one's cognitive system, for example, one's thoughts or beliefs? If one thinks that this can happen then one thinks that there can be cognitivepenetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitively impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case of cognitivepenetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can typically use to explain (...) away alleged cases. The case is one in which it seems subjects' beliefs about the typical colour of objects affects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitivepenetration that explains how cognitivepenetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generally sympathetic to the idea of cognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation of this plausible mechanism. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor deemed informational encapsulation ‘the essence’ of a system’s modularity and argued that human perceptual processing comprises modular systems, thus construed. Nowadays, his conclusion is widely challenged. Often, this is because experimental work is seen to somehow demonstrate the cognitive penetrability of perceptual processing, where this is assumed to conflict with the informational encapsulation of perceptual systems. Here, I deny the conflict, proposing that cognitivepenetration need not have any straightforward bearing on the conjecture that perceptual (...) processing is composed of nothing but informationally encapsulated modules, the conjecture that each and every perceptual computation is performed by an informationally encapsulated module, and the consequences perceptual encapsulation was traditionally expected to have for a perception-cognition border, the epistemology of perception and cognitive science. With these points in view, I propose that particularly plausible cases of cognitivepenetration would actually seem to evince the encapsulation of perceptual systems rather than refute/problematize this conjecture. (shrink)
According to the cognitive penetrability hypothesis, our beliefs, desires, and possibly our emotions literally affect how we see the world. This book elucidates the nature of the cognitive penetrability and impenetrability hypotheses, assesses their plausibility, and explores their philosophical consequences. It connects the topic's multiple strands (the psychological findings, computationalist background, epistemological consequences of cognitive architecture, and recent philosophical developments) at a time when the outcome of many philosophical debates depends on knowing whether and how cognitive (...) states can influence perception. All sixteen chapters were written especially for the book. The first chapters provide methodological and conceptual clarification of the topic and give an account of the relations between penetrability, encapsulation, modularity, and cross-modal interactions in perception. Assessments of psychological and neuroscientific evidence for cognitivepenetration are given by several chapters. Most of the contributions analyse the impact of cognitive penetrability and impenetrability on specific philosophical topics: high-level perceptual contents, the epistemological consequences of penetration, nonconceptual content, the phenomenology of late perception, metacognitive feelings, and action. The book includes a comprehensive introduction which explains the history of the debate, its key technical concepts (informational encapsulation, early and late vision, the perception-cognition distinction, hard-wired perceptual processing, perceptual learning, theory-ladenness), and the debate's relevance to current topics in the philosophy of mind and perception, epistemology, and philosophy of psychology. (shrink)
Cognitivepenetration of perception, broadly understood, is the influence that the cognitive system has on a perceptual system. The paper shows a form of cognitivepenetration in the visual system which I call ‘architectural’. Architectural cognitivepenetration is the process whereby the behaviour or the structure of the perceptual system is influenced by the cognitive system, which consequently may have an impact on the content of the perceptual experience. I scrutinize a study (...) in perceptual learning that provides empirical evidence that cognitive influences in the visual system produce neural reorganization in the primary visual cortex. The type of cognitivepenetration can be synchronic and diachronic. (shrink)
There are good, even if inconclusive, reasons to think that cognitivepenetration of perception occurs: that cognitive states like belief causally affect, in a relatively direct way, the contents of perceptual experience. The supposed importance of – indeed as it is suggested here, what is definitive of – this possible phenomenon is that it would result in important epistemic and scientific consequences. One interesting and intuitive consequence entirely unremarked in the extant literature concerns the perception of art. (...) Intuition has it that knowledge about art changes how one aesthetically evaluates artworks. A profound explanation of this intuitive fact is that perceptual experiences vary with artistic expertise. Cognitivepenetration provides an explanatory mechanism for this latter effect. What one knows or otherwise thinks about art may affect, in one of two ways sketched below, how one perceives art. Differences in aesthetic evaluation may follow, either because high-level aesthetic properties can be perceptually represented or because they causally depend on low-level perceptible properties. All of this lends credence to the hypothesis that the expert better judges art because she better perceives art. And she better perceives art because she better knows art. (shrink)
Zenon Pylyshyn argues that cognitively driven attentional effects do not amount to cognitivepenetration of early vision because such effects occur either before or after early vision. Critics object that in fact such effects occur at all levels of perceptual processing. We argue that Pylyshyn’s claim is correct—but not for the reason he emphasizes. Even if his critics are correct that attentional effects are not external to early vision, these effects do not satisfy Pylyshyn’s requirements that the effects (...) be direct and exhibit semantic coherence. In addition, we distinguish our defense from those found in recent work by Raftopoulos and by Firestone and Scholl, argue that attention should not be assimilated to expectation, and discuss alternative characterizations of cognitive penetrability, advocating a kind of pluralism. (shrink)
This chapter concerns the cognitivepenetration of the visual experience of colour. Alleged cases of cognitively penetrated colour perception are of special import since they concern an uncontroversial type of visual experience. All theorists of perception agree that colour properties figure properly in the content or presentation of visual perception, even though not all parties agree that pine trees or causes or other "high-level" properties can figure properly in visual content or presentation. So an alleged case of this (...) kind does not require controversial commitments regarding the admissible contents of visual perception. The chapter clarifies this theoretical importance , identifying alleged empirical cases of cognitively penetrated colour perception, and then analyzing the implications of such cases for an epistemology of perception. (shrink)
I argue that discussions of cognitivepenetration have been insufficiently clear about what distinguishes perception and cognition, and what kind of relationship between the two is supposed to be at stake in the debate. A strong reading, which is compatible with many characterizations of penetration, posits a highly specific and directed influence on perception. According to this view, which I call the “internal effect view” a cognitive state penetrates a perceptual process if the presence of the (...)cognitive state causes a change to the computation performed by the process, with the result being a distinct output. I produce a novel argument that this strong reading is false. On one well-motivated way of drawing the distinction between perceptual states and cognitive states, cognitive representations cannot play the computational role posited for them by IEV, vis-à-vis perception. This does not mean, however, that there are not important causal relationships between cognitive and perceptual states. I introduce an alternative view of these relationships, the “external effect view”. EEV posits that each cognitive state is associated with a broad range of possible perceptual outcomes, and biases perception towards any of those perceptual outcomes without determining specific perceptual contents. I argue that EEV captures the kinds of cases philosophers have thought to be evidence for IEV, and a wide range of other cases as well. (shrink)
The goal of perceptual systems is to allow organisms to adaptively respond to ecologically relevant stimuli. Because all perceptual inputs are ambiguous, perception needs to rely on prior knowledge accumulated over evolutionary and developmental time to turn sensory energy into information useful for guiding behavior. It remains controversial whether the guidance of perception extends to cognitive states or is locked up in a “cognitively impenetrable” part of perception. I argue that expectations, knowledge, and task demands can shape perception at (...) multiple levels, leaving no part untouched. The position advocated here is broadly consistent with the notion that perceptual systems strive to minimize prediction error en route to globally optimal solutions :181–204, 2013). On this view, penetrability should be expected whenever constraining lower-level processes by higher level knowledge is minimizes global prediction error. Just as Fodor feared cognitivepenetration of perception threatens theory-neutral observation and the distinction between observation and inference. However, because theories themselves are constrained by the task of minimizing prediction error, theory-laden observation turns out to be superior to theory-free observation in turning sensory energy into useful information. (shrink)
Perceptual experience is one of our fundamental sources of epistemic justification—roughly, justification for believing that a proposition is true. The ability of perceptual experience to justify beliefs can nevertheless be questioned. This article focuses on an important challenge that arises from countenancing that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable. -/- The thesis of cognitive penetrability of perception states that the content of perceptual experience can be influenced by prior or concurrent psychological factors, such as beliefs, fears and desires. Advocates of (...) this thesis could for instance claim that your desire of having a tall daughter might influence your perception, so that she appears to you to be taller than she is. Although cognitive penetrability of perception is a controversial empirical hypothesis, it does not appear implausible. The possibility of its veracity has been adduced to challenge positions that maintain that perceptual experience has inherent justifying power. -/- This article presents some of the most influential positions in contemporary literature about whether cognitivepenetration would undermine perceptual justification and why it would or would not do so. -/- Some sections of this article focus on phenomenal conservatism, a popular conception of epistemic justification that more than any other has been targeted with objections that adduce the cognitive penetrability of experience. (shrink)
This chapter critically assesses recent arguments that acquiring the ability to categorize an object as belonging to a certain high-level kind can cause the relevant kind property to be represented in visual phenomenal content. The first two arguments, developed respectively by Susanna Siegel (2010) and Tim Bayne (2009), employ an essentially phenomenological methodology. The third argument, developed by William Fish (2013), by contrast, is supported by an array of psychophysical and neuroscientific findings. I argue that while none of these arguments (...) ultimately proves successful, there is a substantial body of empirical evidence that information originating outside the visual system can nonetheless modulate the way an object’s low-level attributes visually appear. Visual phenomenal content, I show, is not only significantly influenced by crossmodal interactions between vision and other exteroceptive senses such as touch and audition, but also by interactions between vision and non-perceptual systems involved in motor planning and construction of the proprioceptive body-image. (shrink)
Introduction to Special Issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology. Overview of the central issues in cognitive architecture, epistemology, and ethics surrounding cognitive penetrability. Special issue includes papers by philosophers and psychologists: Gary Lupyan, Fiona Macpherson, Reginald Adams, Anya Farennikova, Jona Vance, Francisco Marchi, Robert Cowan.
We tend to think that perceptual experiences tell us about what the external world is like without being influenced by our own mind. But recent psychological and philosophical research indicates that this might not be true. Our beliefs, expectations, knowledge, and other personal-level mental states might influence what we experience. This kind of psychological phenomena is now called “cognitivepenetration.” The research of cognitivepenetration not only has important consequences for psychology and the philosophy of mind, (...) but also has interesting epistemological implications. According to the Downgrade Thesis, some cognitively penetrated perceptual experiences give their subjects less justification for believing their penetrated contents than perceptual experiences that are unpenetrated to represent those contents would usually give. In this paper, I propose an innovative argument for the Downgrade Thesis. First, I develop a positive account of how some cognitivepenetration works, according to which cognitive states influence perceptual experiences by triggering some imaginings. Second, I argue that imaginings do not give their subjects justification for believing their contents. I apply this epistemology of imagining to cognitivepenetration, and argue that because of the role that imaginings play, some cognitively penetrated experiences also give their subjects less justification for believing their penetrated contents. (shrink)
Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitivepenetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
There has been a recent surge in interest in two questions concerning the nature of perceptual experience; viz. the question of whether perceptual experience is sometimes cognitively penetrated and that of whether high-level properties are presented in perceptual experience. Only rarely have thinkers been concerned with the question of whether the two phenomena are interestingly related. Here we argue that the two phenomena are not related in any interesting way. We argue further that this lack of an interesting connection between (...) the two phenomena has potentially devastating consequences for naïve realism. Finally, we consider the possibility of a disunified view of experience that takes perceptual experience to be a matter of both being directly perceptually related to mind-independent objects and property instances as well as consciously representing these entities. (shrink)
: In Cognitive penetrability and the epistemic role of perception Athanasios Raftopoulos provides a new defense of the thesis that, unlike early vision, late vision is cognitively penetrable, in accordance with a new definition of cognitive penetrability that is centered on the ideas of direct influence of cognition upon perception and of the epistemic role of perception. This new definition allows him to maintain that late vision is a genuinely perceptive stage of the perceptual process. In this paper, (...) I try to discuss not only whether this new definition has plausible consequences that allow only late vision to be cognitively penetrable but also whether the claim that late vision is genuinely perceptual allows it to have the kind of hybrid content, half nonconceptual and half conceptual, that Raftopoulos now wants to ascribe to it. Keywords: Cognitive Penetrability, weak, strong, and superstrong; Early and Late Vision; Nonconceptual Content Penetralibità cognitiva e visione secondaria Riassunto: In Cognitive penetrability and the epistemic role of perception Athanasios Raftopoulos dà una nuova difesa della tesi secondo cui, a differenza della visione primaria, la visione secondaria è penetrabile cognitivamente, secondo una nuova definizione della nozione di penetrabilità cognitiva centrata sulle idee di influenza diretta della cognizione sulla percezione e di ruolo epistemico della percezione. Questa nuova definizione gli consente di sostenere che la visione secondaria è una fase genuinamente percettiva del processo percettivo. Nell’articolo, provo a discutere non solo se la nuova definizione ha conseguenze plausibili che consentono solo alla visione secondaria di essere penetrabile cognitivamente, ma anche se l’idea che la visione secondaria sia genuinamente percettiva consente ad essa di avere il contenuto ibrido, in parte nonconcettuale e in parte concettuale, che Raftopoulos vuole ora ascriverle. Parole chiave: Penetrabilità cognitiva debole, forte e superforte; Visione primaria e secondaria; Contenuto nonconcettuale. (shrink)
One sceptical rejoinder to those who claim that sensory perception is cognitively penetrable is to appeal to the involvement of attention. So, while a phenomenon might initially look like one where, say, a perceiver’s beliefs are influencing her visual experience, another interpretation is that because the perceiver believes and desires as she does, she consequently shifts her spatial attention so as to change what she senses visually. But, the sceptic will urge, this is an entirely familiar phenomenon, and it hardly (...) involves some special or theoretically important cognitive effect on sensory perception. Even supposing that the sceptic is correct about cases that are accurately described in this way, the rejoinder oversimplifies the possible roles that attention may play in mediating cognition and perception. This paper aims to identify these different roles, and by emphasis on empirical research on feature-based and object-based attention. What emerges is a plausible and well- evidenced mental schema that describes attention -mediated cognitivepenetration. At the very least, the burden of proof is shifted to the sceptic, as he then must show that there are no mental phenomena involving attention in the more nuanced ways described here. One additional benefit of this analysis is that it illuminates various features of attention and its relation to both cognition and phenomenal consciousness. Therefore the analysis should be of interest to a broad range of theorists of the mind, and not just those invested in the cognitivepenetration debate. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper seeks to establish whether the cognitivepenetration of experience is compatible with experience having nonconceptual content. Cognitivepenetration occurs when one’s beliefs or desires affect one’s perceptual experience in a particular way. I examine two different models of cognitivepenetration and four different accounts of the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content. I argue that one model of cognitivepenetration—“classic” cognitivepenetration—is compatible with only one of the (...) accounts of nonconceptual content that I identify. I then consider the other model of cognitivepenetration—cognitivepenetration “lite”. I provide reasons to think that this is compatible with three accounts of nonconceptual content. Moreover, I argue that the account of nonconceptual content that it is not compatible with is a spurious notion of nonconceptual content that ought to be abandoned. Thus, I claim that cognitivepenetration lite is compatible with all reasonable specifications of nonconceptual content. (shrink)
In recent years there has been renewed philosophical interest in the thesis that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable, i.e., roughly, the view that the contents and/or character of a subject's perceptual experience can be modified by what a subject believes and desires. As has been widely noted, it is plausible that cognitivepenetration has implications for perception's epistemic role. On the one hand, penetration could make agents insensitive to the world in a way which epistemically 'downgrades' their (...) experience. On the other hand, cognitivepenetration may sometimes be epistemically beneficial by making agents more sensitive to the way the world is, i.e., by enabling them to see things that others cannot. For example, penetration could ground a 'high-level' view of perceptual content, according to which agents can have experiences as of 'complex' properties, e.g., natural kind and aesthetic properties. Relatedly, it could elucidate the view that agents can gain perceptual expertise by learning. A type of sophisticated perception which has hitherto received little attention in relation to cognitivepenetration is ethical perception. In this paper I examine the significance of cognitivepenetration for 'Perceptualist' views in ethics which appeal to a notion of 'ethical perception'. Although cognitivepenetration could ground a literalist model of Ethical Perception according to which agents can have perceptual experiences of the instantiation of ethical properties, the results are otherwise somewhat mixed: cognitive penetrability does not support Perceptual Intuitionism, although it may provide some limited support for Virtue Ethics and Cornell Realism. However, as I stress, the significance of cognitivepenetration for Perceptualism should not be overstated. (shrink)
Cognitivepenetration of perception is the idea that what we see is influenced by such states as beliefs, expectations, and so on. A perceptual belief that results from cognitivepenetration may be less justified than a nonpenetrated one. Inferentialism is a kind of internalist view that tries to account for this by claiming that some experiences are epistemically evaluable, on the basis of why the perceiver has that experience, and the familiar canons of good inference provide (...) the appropriate standards by which experiences are evaluated. I examine recent defenses of inferentialism by Susanna Siegel, Peter Markie, and Matthew McGrath and argue that the prospects for inferentialism are dim. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Cognitive penetrability refers to the possibility that perceptual experiences are influenced by our beliefs, expectations, emotions, or other personal-level mental states. In this paper, I focus on the epistemological implication of cognitivepenetration, and examine how, exactly, aetiologies matter to the justificatory power of perceptual experiences. I examine a prominent theory, according to which some cognitively penetrated perceptual experiences are like conclusions of bad inferences. Whereas one version of this theory is psychologically implausible, the other version (...) has sceptical consequences. In the second half of the paper, I suggest an alternative theory, drawing on recent empirical research on imagining-perception interaction and the epistemology of imagining. (shrink)
Cognitive states, such as beliefs, desires and intentions, may influence how we perceive people and objects. If this is the case, are those influences worse when they occur implicitly rather than explicitly? Here we show that cognitivepenetration in perception generally involves an implicit component. First, the process of influence is implicit, making us unaware that our perception is misrepresenting the world. This lack of awareness is the source of the epistemic threat raised by cognitive (...) class='Hi'>penetration. Second, the influencing state can be implicit, though it can also be or become explicit. Being unaware of the content of the influencing state, we argue, does not make as much difference to the epistemic threat as it does to the epistemic responsibility of the agent. Implicit influencers cannot be examined for their accuracy and justification, and cannot be voluntarily accepted by the perceiver. Conscious awareness, however, is not sufficient for attributing blame to the agent. An equally important condition is the degree of control that they can exercise to change the contents that influence perception or stop their influence. Here we suggest that such control can also result from social influence, and that cognitive penetrability of perception is therefore also a social issue. (shrink)
Perception purports to help you gain knowledge of the world even if the world is not the way you expected it to be. Perception also purports to be an independent tribunal against which you can test your beliefs. It is natural to think that in order to serve these and other central functions, perceptual representations must not causally depend on your prior beliefs and expectations. In this paper, I clarify and then argue against the natural thought above. All perceptual systems (...) must solve an under-determination problem: the sensory data they receive could be caused by indefinitely many arrangements of distal objects and properties. Using a Bayesian approach to perceptual processing, I argue that in order to solve the under-determination problem, perceptual capacities must rely on prior beliefs or expectations of some kind. I then argue that perceptual states or processes can help ground knowledge of the world whether the ‘beliefs’ necessary for perceptual processing are encoded as sub-personal states within a perceptual system or cognitive states, such as person-level beliefs. My argument has two main parts. First, I give a preliminary argument that cognitive influence on perception can be appropriate, and I respond to three lines of objection. Second, I argue that cognitively influenced perceptual states can be instances of seeing that p, which makes the relevant states well suited to help ground knowledge that p. I conclude that a cognitively penetrated perceptual state or process can help ground knowledge under some circumstances. (shrink)
Several psychological experiments have suggested that concepts can influence perceived color (e.g., Delk and Fillenbaum in Am J Psychol 78(2):290–293, 1965, Hansen et al. in Nat Neurosci 9(11):1367–1368, 2006, Olkkonen et al. in J Vis 8(5):1–16, 2008). Observers tend to assign typical colors to objects even when the objects do not have those colors. Recently, these findings were used to argue that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable (Macpherson 2012). This interpretation of the experiments has far-reaching consequences: it implies that the (...) way we think of objects determines how we see them, thus threatening the role of perception in justifying beliefs. In this paper, I show that the psychological findings can be accounted for without admitting cognitive penetrability. An underestimated but key feature of the experiments is that observers had to judge colors in borderline cases, in conditions of reduced acuity, or on the basis of color-concepts instead of matching. Such judgments are sensitive to the form of bias that Tversky and Kahneman (Science 185:1124–1131, 1974) have termed ‘anchoring’. Adopting a suggestion from Raffman (Philos Rev 103(1):41–74, 1994), I argue that the way subjects in the experiments think of the objects could affect their color judgments without altering their color experiences. (shrink)
The thesis of cognitive penetrability, according to which cognitive states can affect perceptual experiences, remains the topic of intense debate among philosophers. A new candidate for a case of cognitivepenetration is presented and defended. The candidate is based on studies involving suggestions that something is a certain way, which are usually given under hypnosis, rather than mere request to imagine that things are a certain way.
It has been argued that just as, say, prejudice or wishful thinking can generate ill-founded beliefs, the same is true of experiences. The idea is that the etiology of cognitively penetrated experiences can downgrade their justificatory force. This view, known as the Downgrade Principle, seems to be compatible with both internalist and externalist conceptions of epistemic justification. An assessment of the credentials of the Downgrade Principle is particularly important in view of the fact that not all cases of cognitive (...)penetration are epistemically malignant. There are good and bad cases of cognitivepenetration. I argue that a proper assessment of the Downgrade Principle will have to address two fundamental questions. I identify two general ways of responding to these questions and show why they fail. It will be maintained that an explanationist conception of justification has a better chance of accounting for the distinction between good and bad cases of cognitivepenetration. The Downgrade Principle is then discussed in the context of the extended cognition thesis. In particular, I look at the sensorimotor theory of perception, as a way of broadening the scope of to include conscious perceptual experience, that sees senses as ways of exploring the environment mediated by different patterns of sensorimotor contingency. I suggest possible ways in which one could distinguish between good and bad cases of cognitivepenetration on such a view compatible with the explanationist view of epistemic justification. (shrink)
In a series of recent papers, Jane Heal (1994, 1995a, 1995b, 1996a, 1996b) has developed her own quite distinctive version of simulation theory and offered a detailed critique of the arguments against simulation theory that we and our collaborators presented in earlier papers. Heal's theory is clearly set out and carefully defended, and her critique of our arguments is constructive and well informed. Unlike a fair amount of what has been written in this area in recent years, her work is (...) refreshingly free of obscurity; it generates more light than heat. While we have many disagreements with Heal, we also find much that we can agree with and learn from. In this paper we hope to advance the discussion by saying where we agree and how we think we can build on that agreement. We'll also explain where we disagree and why. (shrink)
Is color experience cognitively penetrable? Some philosophers have recently argued that it is. In this paper, we take issue with the claim that color experience is cognitively penetrable. We argue that the notion of cognitivepenetration that has recently dominated the literature is flawed since it fails to distinguish between the modulation of perceptual content by non-perceptual principles and genuine cognitivepenetration. We use this distinction to show that studies suggesting that color experience can be modulated (...) by factors of the cognitive system do not establish that color experience is cognitively penetrable. Additionally, we argue that even if color experience turns out to be modulated by color-related beliefs and knowledge beyond non-perceptual principles, it does not follow that color experience is cognitively penetrable since the experiences of determinate hues involve post-perceptual processes. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications that these ideas may have on debates in philosophy. (shrink)
The Macpherson :24–62, 2012) argued that the perceptual experience of colors is cognitively penetrable. Macpherson also thinks that perception has nonconceptual content because this would provide a good explanation for several phenomena concerning perceptual experience. To have both, Macpherson must defend the thesis that the CP of perception is compatible with perception having NCC. Since the classical notion of CP of perception does not allow perception to have NCC, Macpherson proposes CP-lite. CP-lite makes room for an experience to have content (...) determined by concepts because the perceptual processes that produce the experience are affected by concepts rendering the experience, CP, while the same type of experience could have been had without any conceptual influences, in which case it would be CI. Macpherson then proceeds to show that CP-lite is compatible with some of the definitions of NCC. To do so, she argues that even when an experience is CP owing to the fact that it is produced by means of the mechanism posited by CP-lite, that is, through the interaction between bottom–up pure perception and top–down perceptual imagery, its content is NCC because it has the basic properties that characterize NCC. Based on this, Macpherson proceeds to criticize and undermine the definitions of NCC that are incompatible with CP-lite. In this paper, I argue that the possibility of CP-lite rests on the erroneous assumption that a state with conceptual content and a state with NCC can have the same phenomenology or content, and that the compatibility of CP-lite with NCC presupposes a view of NCC that does not conform to the usual construal of NCC. (shrink)
In this chapter I introduce the thesis that perceptual appearances are cognitively penetrable and analyse cases made against phenomenal conservatism hinging on this thesis. In particular, I focus on objections coming from the externalist reliabilist camp and the internalist inferentialist camp. I conclude that cognitive penetrability doesn’t yield lethal or substantive difficulties for phenomenal conservatism.
Fiona Macpherson (2012) argues that various experimental results provide strong evidence in favor of the cognitivepenetration of perceptual color experience. Moreover, she proposes a mechanism for how such cognitivepenetration occurs. We argue, first, that the results on which Macpherson relies do not provide strong grounds for her claim of cognitive penetrability; and, second, that, if the results do reflect cognitive penetrability, then time-course considerations raise worries for her proposed mechanism. We base our (...) arguments in part on several of our own experiments, reported herein. (shrink)
Perceptual experience has representational content. My argument for this claim is an inference to the best explanation. The explanandum is cognitivepenetration. In cognitivepenetration, perceptual experiences are either causally influenced, or else are partially constituted, by mental states that are representational, including: mental imagery, beliefs, concepts and memories. If perceptual experiences have representational content, then there is a background condition for cognitivepenetration that renders the phenomenon prima facie intelligible. Naïve realist or purely (...) relational accounts of perception leave cognitivepenetration less well-explained, even when formulated with so-called ‘standpoints’ or ‘third relata.’. (shrink)
Is action-guiding vision cognitively penetrable? More specifically, is the visual processing that guides our goal-directed actions sensitive to semantic information from cognitive states? This paper critically examines a recent family of arguments whose aim is to challenge a widespread and influential view in philosophy and cognitive science: the view that action-guiding vision is cognitively impenetrable. I argue, in response, that while there may very well be top–down causal influences on action-guiding vision, they should not be taken to be (...) an instance of cognitivepenetration. Assuming otherwise is to assign a computational role to the influencing states that they cannot perform. Although questions about cognitive penetrability are ultimately empirical, the issues addressed in this paper are largely philosophical. The discussion here highlights an important set of considerations that help better understand the relations between cognition, vision, and action. (shrink)
This paper starts by distinguishing three views about the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. ‘Low-level theorists’ argue that perceptual experience is reducible to the experience of low-level properties, ‘high-level theorists’ argue that we have perceptual experiences of high-level properties, while ‘disunified view theorists’ argue that perceptual seemings can present high-level properties. The paper explores how cognitive states can penetrate perceptual experience and provides an interpretation of cognitivepenetration that offers some support for the high-level view.
This paper considers an orectic penetration hypothesis which says that desires and desire-like states may influence perceptual experience in a non-externally mediated way. This hypothesis is clarified with a definition, which serves further to distinguish the interesting target phenomenon from trivial and non-genuine instances of desire-influenced perception. Orectic penetration is an interesting possible case of the cognitive penetrability of perceptual experience. The orectic penetration hypothesis is thus incompatible with the more common thesis that perception is cognitively (...) impenetrable. It is of importance to issues in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, epistemology, and general philosophy of science. The plausibility of orectic perception can be motivated by some classic experimental studies, and some new experimental research inspired by those same studies. The general suggestion is that orectic penetration thus defined, and evidenced by the relevant studies, cannot be deflected by the standard strategies of the cognitive impenetrability theorist. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: What counts as cognitivepenetration?