What is the relationship between perception and mental imagery? I aim to eliminate an answer that I call perceptualism about mental imagery. Strong perceptualism, defended by Bence Nanay, predictive processing theorists, and several others, claims that imagery is a kind of perceptual state. Weak perceptualism, defended by M. G. F. Martin and Matthew Soteriou, claims that mental imagery is a representation of a perceptual state, a view sometimes called The Dependency Thesis. Strong perceptualism is to be rejected since it misclassifies (...) imagery disorders and abnormalities as perceptual disorders and abnormalities. Weak Perceptualism is to be rejected since it gets wrong the aim and accuracy conditions of a whole class of mental imagery–projected mental imagery–and relies on an impoverished concept of perceptual states, ignoring certain of their structural features. Whatever the relationship between perception and imagery, the perceptualist has it wrong. (shrink)
Olfaction represents odors, if it represents anything at all. Does olfaction also represent ordinary objects like cheese, fish and coffee-beans? Many think so. This paper argues that it does not. Instead, we should affirm an austere account of the intentional objects of olfaction: olfactory experience is about odors, not objects. Visuocentric thinking about olfaction has tempted some philosophers to say otherwise.
Predictive processing (PP) accounts of perception are unique not merely in that they postulate a unity between perception and imagination. Rather, they are unique in claiming that perception should be conceptualised in terms of imagination and that the two involve an identity of neural implementation. This paper argues against this postulated unity, on both conceptual and empirical grounds. Conceptually, the manner in which PP theorists link perception and imagination belies an impoverished account of imagery as cloistered from the external world (...) in its intentionality, akin to a virtual reality, as well as endogenously generated. Yet this ignores a whole class of imagery whose intentionality is directed on the actual environment—projected mental imagery—and also ignores the fact that imagery may be triggered crossmodally in a bottom-up, stimulus-driven way. Empirically, claiming that imagery and perception share neural circuitry ignores relevant clinical results in this area. These evidence substantial perception/imagery neural dissociations, most notably in the case of aphantasia. Taken together, the arguments here suggest that PP theorists should substantially temper, if not outright abandon, their claim to a perception/imagination unity. (shrink)
Seeing one’s laptop to be missing, hearing silence and smelling fresh air; these are all examples of perceptual experiences of absences. In this paper I discuss an example of absence perception in the tactual sense modality, that of tactually perceiving a tooth to be absent in one’s mouth, following its extraction. Various features of the example challenge two recently-developed theories of absence perception: Farennikova’s memory-perception mismatch theory and Martin and Dockic’s meta-cognitive theory. I speculate that the mechanism underlying the experience (...) is a body schema that has failed to update itself. (shrink)
Perceptual experience has representational content. My argument for this claim is an inference to the best explanation. The explanandum is cognitive penetration. In cognitive penetration, 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 cognitive penetration that renders the phenomenon prima facie intelligible. Naïve realist or purely relational accounts of perception leave cognitive (...) penetration less well-explained, even when formulated with so-called ‘standpoints’ or ‘third relata.’. (shrink)
Aesthetic non-inferentialism is the widely-held thesis that aesthetic judgements either are identical to, or are made on the basis of, sensory states like perceptual experience and emotion. It is sometimes objected to on the basis that testimony is a legitimate source of such judgements. Less often is the view challenged on the grounds that one’s inferences can be a source of aesthetic judgements. This paper aims to do precisely that. According to the theory defended here, aesthetic judgements may be unreasoned, (...) insofar as they are immediate judgements made on the basis of, and acquiring their justification from, causally prior sensory states. Yet they may also be reasoned, insofar as they may be the outputs of certain inferences. Crucially, a token aesthetic judgement may be unreasoned and reasoned, simultaneously. A key reason for allowing inference a serious role in aesthetic judgements emerges from reflection upon the nature of aesthetic expertise. (shrink)
Aphantasia is a condition characterised by a deficit of mental imagery. Since several psychopathologies are partially maintained by mental imagery, it may be illuminating to consider the condition against the background of psychological disorder. After outlining current findings and hypotheses regarding aphantasia and psychopathology, this paper suggests that some support for defining aphantasia as a lack of voluntary imagery may be found here. The paper then outlines potentially fruitful directions for future research into aphantasia in general and its relation to (...) psychopathology in particular, including rethinking use of the SUIS to measure involuntary imagery, whether aphantasia offers protection against addiction, and whether hyperphantasia is a potential risk factor for maladaptive daydreaming, among others. (shrink)
What is the correct procedure for determining the contents of perception? Philosophers tackling this question increasingly rely on empirically-oriented procedures in order to reach an answer. I argue that this constitutes an improvement over the armchair methodology constitutive of phenomenal contrast cases, but that there is a crucial respect in which current empirical procedures remain limited: they are unimodal in nature, wrongly treating the senses as isolatable faculties. I thus have two aims: first, to motivate a reorientation of the admissible (...) contents debate into a multimodal framework, charting its various significances. The second is to explore whether any experimental studies of multimodal perception support a so-called Liberal (or ‘high-level’ or ‘rich’) account of perception’s admissible contents. I conclude that the McGurk effect and the ventriloquist effect are both explicable without the postulation of high-level content, but that at least one multimodal experimental paradigm may necessitate such content: the rubber hand illusion. One upshot of this argument is that Conservatives who claim that the Liberal view intolerably broadens the scope of perceptual illusions, particularly from the perspective of perceptual psychology, should pursue other arguments against that view. (shrink)
How tight is the conceptual connection between imagination and perception? A number of philosophers, from the early moderns to present-day predictive processing theorists, tie the knot as tightly as they can, claiming that states of the imagination, i.e. mental imagery, are a proper subset of perceptual experience. This paper labels such a view ‘perceptualism’ about the imagination and supplies new arguments against it. The arguments are based on high-level perceptual content and, distinctly, cognitive penetration. The paper also defuses a recent, (...) influential argument for perceptualism based on the ‘discovery’ that visual perception and mental imagery share a significant neural substrate: circuitry in V1, the brain’s primary visual cortex. Current neuropsychology is shown to be equivocal at best on this matter. While experiments conducted on healthy, neurotypical subjects indicate substantial neural overlap, there is extensive clinical evidence of dissociations between imagery and perception in the brain, most notably in the case of aphantasia. (shrink)
Sensorimotor expectations concern how visual experience covaries with bodily movement. Sensorimotor theorists argue from such expectations to the conclusion that the phenomenology of vision is constitutively embodied: objects within the visual field are experienced as 3-D because sensorimotor expectations partially constitute our experience of such objects. Critics argue that there are two ways to block the above inference: to explain how we visually experience objects as 3-D, one may appeal to such non-bodily factors as expectations about movements of objects, not (...) the perceiver, or to the role of mental imagery in visual experience. But instead of using sensorimotor expectations to explain how objects are experienced within the visual field, we can instead use them to explain our experience of the visual field itself and, in particular, our experience of its limits; that is, our ever-present visual sense of there being more to see, beyond what’s currently within the visual field. Crucially, this inference from sensorimotor expectations to the constitutive embodiment of visual phenomenology is not threatened by the above two challenges. I thus present here a sensorimotor theory of the phenomenology of the visual field, that is, our experience of our visual fields as such. (shrink)
Recent work on seeing-in has taken a pluralist turn. There is variety among pictures, so we should expect variety among seeing-in. Dominic Lopes’s taxonomy of seeing-in is arguably the most thorough that is currently available. Lopes identifies five varieties of seeing-in. In this paper I identify a sixth: pseudo-actualism. This paper improves our current best taxonomy of seeing-in.
Pictures are a quintessential source of aesthetic pleasure. This makes it easy to forget that they are epistemically valuable no less than they are aesthetically so. Pictures are representations. As such, they may furnish us with knowledge of the objects they represent. In this article I provide an account of why photographs are of greater epistemic utility than handmade pictures. To do so, I use a novel approach: I seek to illuminate the epistemic utility of photographs by situating both photographs (...) and handmade pictures among the sources of knowledge. This method yields an account of photography's epistemic utility that better connects the issue with related issues in epistemology and is relatively superior to other accounts. Moreover, it answers a foundational issue in the epistemology of pictorial representation: I argue that photographs have greater epistemic utility than handmade pictures because photographs are sources of perceptual knowledge, while handmade pictures are sources of testimonial knowledge. (shrink)
According to the causal theory of photography (CTP), photographs acquire their depictive content from the world, whereas handmade pictures acquire their depictive content from their makers’ intentional states about the world. CTP suffers from what I call the Problem of the Missing Agent: it seemingly leaves no room for the photographer to occupy a causal role in the production of their pictures and so is inconsistent with an aesthetics of photography. In this paper, I do three things. First, I amend (...) CTP with Fred Dretske’s distinction between triggering and structuring causes, thereby overcoming the Problem of the Missing Agent. Second, I argue that CTP so amended in fact illuminates two aesthetic interests that we may take in photographs, focussing on photographic portraiture and street photography. Third, I show how reflection on the aesthetics of photography serves to support aesthetic anti-empiricism: the view that the aesthetic value of artworks consists, at least in part, in achievement rather than sensory pleasure. (shrink)
This paper introduces a novel thesis about mental imagery; namely, that it is grease for the mind’s gears (MGT). MGT is not a vague analogy. Rather, it outlines an important and overlooked higher-order function of mental imagery: that it aids various psychological faculties in discharging their functional roles. MGT is motivated by reflection on converging evidence from clinical, experimental and social psychology and solves at least two conceptual puzzles about mental imagery. The first puzzle concerns imagery’s architectural promiscuity; that is, (...) its ability to interact with diverse psychological faculties and perform very different functions when doing so. The second puzzle concerns how to square imagery’s architectural promiscuity with its psychopathological relevance; that is, imagery’s capacity to be a maintaining cause, and possibly even a partial constituent, of several psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Mental imagery helps and harms the human mind to extreme degrees and this is something that calls for elucidation. MGT says that instead of facing perplexing heterogeneities here, we instead face a significant unity. In addition, MGT represents an alternative to the currently dominant conception of imagery in the philosophical literature; namely, as a perceptual or perception-like state of mind. (shrink)
A central debate in contemporary philosophy of perception is between those who hold that perception is a detection relation of sensory awareness and those who hold that it is representational state akin to belief. Another key debate is between those who claim that we can perceive natural or artifactual kind properties, e.g. ‘being a tomato’, ‘being a doorknob’, etc. and those who hold we cannot. The current consensus is that these debates are entirely unrelated. I argue that this consensus is (...) wrong: the perception of natural or artifactal kinds favours representationalism. Naïve realists who wish to accommodate such perception should embrace a disunified metaphysics of perception, one that combines relational and representational events; call such a view ‘impure relationalism.’. (shrink)
Photographic pictorial experience is thought to have a peculiar phenomenology to it, one that fails to accompany the pictorial experiences one has before so-called ‘hand-made’ pictures. I present a theory that explains this in terms of a common factor shared by beliefs formed on the basis of photographic pictorial experience and beliefs formed on the basis of ordinary, face-to-face, perceptual experience: the having of a psychologically immediate, non-inferential etiology. This theory claims that photographic phenomenology has less to do with photographs (...) themselves, or the pictorial experiences they elicit, and is a matter of our cognitive response to those experiences. I illustrate this theory’s benefits: it is neutral on the nature of photography and our folk-conception of photography; it is consistent with photographic phenomenology’s being contingent; and it accounts for our experiences of hyper-realistic hand-made pictures. Extant theories of photographic phenomenology falter on one or more of these issues. (shrink)
I distinguish between two kinds of sensorimotor expectations: agent- and object-active ones. Alva Noë's answer to the problem of how perception acquires volumetric content illicitly privileges agent-active expectations over object-active expectations, though the two are explanatorily on a par. Considerations which Noë draws upon concerning how organisms may ‘off-load’ internal processes onto the environment do not support his view that volumetric content depends on our embodiment; rather, they support a view of experience which is restrictive of the body's role in (...) perception. My objections undercut central arguments which Noë gives for his brand of enactivism. (shrink)
The following is an advertisement for scalar epistemic consequentialism. Benefits include an epistemic consequentialism that (i) is immune from the the no-positive-epistemic-duties objection and (ii) doesn’t require bullet-biting on the rightness of epistemic tradeoffs. The advertisement invites readers to think more carefully about both the definition and logical space of epistemic consequentialism.
Kantian disinterest is the view that aesthetic judgement is constituted (at least in part) by a form of perceptual contemplation that is divorced from concerns of practical action. That view, which continues to be defended to this day, is challenged here on the basis that it is unduly spectator-focussed, ignoring important facets of art-making and its motivations. Beauty moves us, not necessarily to tears or rapt contemplation, but to practical action; crucially, it may do so as part and parcel of (...) its appreciation. This claim is defended via reflection on (i) the art of photography, (ii) the concepts of ‘attentional salience’ and ‘experienced mandates’, and (iii) a virtue-based account of aesthetic value. (shrink)
Hans Muller has recently attempted to show that Frank Jackson cannot assert the existence of qualia without thereby falsifying himself on the matter of such mental states being epiphenomenal with respect to the physical world. I argue that Muller misunderstands the commitments of qualia epiphenomenalism and that, as a result, his arguments against Jackson do not go through.
Introduction to a symposium in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism on the 50th anniversary of Kendall Walton's "Categories of Art." Featuring papers by Madeleine Ransom, Stacie Friend, David Davies and Kendall Walton.
Neil Sinhababu :89–98, 2017) has recently argued against the fine-tuning argument for God. They claim that the question of the universe’s fine-tuning ought not be ‘why is the universe so hospitable to life?’ but rather ‘why is the universe so hospitable to morally valuable minds?’ and that, moreover, the universe isn’t so hospitable. For it is metaphysically possible that psychophysical laws be substantially more permissive than they in fact are, allowing for the realisation of morally valuable consciousness by exceptionally simple (...) physical states and systems, rather than the complex states of brains. I reply that Sinhababu’s argument rests upon unsupported claims and that we have reason to doubt that an omnibenevolent God would make the psychophysical laws more permissive than they in fact are. (shrink)
Sensorimotor theorists of perception have argued that eye movement is a necessary condition for seeing on the basis that subjects whose retinal images do not move undergo a form of blindness. I show that the argument does not work.
The claim that photographs are fictionally incompetent (i.e. that they can only depict those particulars they are appropriately causally related to) is argued by Noël Carroll, Gregory Currie, and Nigel Warburton to be falsified by cinematic works of fiction. In response I firstly argue that it does not follow from cinema's having a capacity for the representation of ficta that photography has a capacity for the representation of ficta. Secondly, and inspired by the work of Roger Scruton, I develop an (...) account of how it is that cinema represents ficta on which this is fundamentally a matter of dramatic/theatrical representation. I argue that in cinematic fiction photography delivers a pre-existent representation of ficta rather than creating or generating fictional content. With this being so, the claim that photography is fictionally incompetent is compatible with cinematic fiction. 1. (shrink)