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 cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitively impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration 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 cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration 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)
Inspired by the writings of J. M. Hinton (1967a, 1967b, 1973), but ushered into the mainstream by Paul Snowdon (1980–1, 1990–1), John McDowell (1982, 1986), and M. G. F. Martin (2002, 2004, 2006), disjunctivism is currently discussed, advocated, and opposed in the philosophy of perception, the theory of knowledge, the theory of practical reason, and the philosophy of action. But what is disjunctivism?
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counterexample to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judgements to account for Gestalt switching. (...) I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position. (shrink)
The senses, or sensory modalities, constitute the different ways we have of perceiving the world, such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. But how many senses are there? How many could there be? What makes the senses different? What interaction takes place between the senses? This book is a guide to thinking about these questions. Together with an extensive introduction to the topic, the book contains the key classic papers on this subject together with nine newly commissioned essays.One reason (...) that these questions are important is that we are receiving a huge influx of new information from the sciences that challenges some traditional philosophical views about the senses. This information needs to be incorporated into our view of the senses and perception. Can we do this whilst retaining our pre-existing concepts of the senses and of perception or do we need to revise our concepts? If they need to be revised, then in what way should that be done? Research in diverse areas, such as the nature of human perception, varieties of non-human animal perception, the interaction between different sensory modalities, perceptual disorders, and possible treatments for them, calls into question the platitude that there are five senses, as well as the pre-supposition that we know what we are counting when we count them as five.This book will serve as an inspiring introduction to the topic and as a basis from which further new research will grow. (shrink)
This paper provides a categorization of cross-modal experiences. There are myriad forms. Doing so allows us to think clearly about the nature of different cross-modal experiences and allows us to clearly formulate competing hypotheses about the kind of experiences involved in different cross-modal phenomena.
Philosophers and scientists have studied sensory perception and, in particular, vision for many years. Increasingly, however, they have become interested in the nonvisual senses in greater detail and the problem of individuating the senses in a more general way. The Aristotelian view is that there are only five external senses—smell, taste, hearing, touch, and vision. This has, by many counts, been extended to include internal senses, such as balance, proprioception, and kinesthesis; pain; and potentially other human and nonhuman senses. This (...) “multisensory turn” has been driven partly by developments in contemporary psychology and neuroscience, which have revealed a host of complex interrelations and interactions between sensory modalities previously thought to be distinct. Contrasts between modalities and other crossmodal phenomena, including multisensory integration, synesthesia, and sensory substitution, have also begun to receive more attention in a burgeoning scientific and philosophical literature on multisensory perception and other crossmodal effects. This article focuses on recent empirically informed contributions to the philosophy of perception, as well as key scientific works that provide important background information and insights into the nature of the senses and sensory perception. Indeed, one of the lessons of the multisensory turn, and of contemporary philosophy of mind more generally, is that philosophers ignore this body of empirical research at their peril because many human and animal senses turn out to be richer and more complex than philosophers and scientists had previously imagined, making this a fruitful area for interdisciplinary interaction and research. (shrink)
I argue that we should reject the sparse view that there are or could be only a small number of rather distinct senses. When one appreciates this then one can see that there is no need to choose between the standard criteria that have been proposed as ways of individuating the senses—representation, phenomenal character, proximal stimulus and sense organ—or any other criteria that one may deem important. Rather, one can use these criteria in conjunction to form a fine-grained taxonomy of (...) the senses. We can think of these criteria as defining a multidimensional space within which we can locate each of the senses that we are familiar with and which also defines the space of possible senses there could be. (shrink)
Unlike those with type 1 blindsight, people who have type 2 blindsight have some sort of consciousness of the stimuli in their blind field. What is the nature of that consciousness? Is it visual experience? I address these questions by considering whether we can establish the existence of any structural—necessary—features of visual experience. I argue that it is very difficult to establish the existence of any such features. In particular, I investigate whether it is possible to visually, or more generally (...) perceptually, experience form or movement at a distance from our body, without experiencing colour. The traditional answer, advocated by Aristotle, and some other philosophers, up to and including the present day, is that it is not and hence colour is a structural feature of visual experience. I argue that there is no good reason to think that this is impossible, and provide evidence from four cases—sensory substitution, achomatopsia, phantom contours and amodal completion—in favour of the idea that it is possible. If it is possible then one important reason for rejecting the idea that people with type 2 blindsight do not have visual experiences is undermined. I suggest further experiments that could be done to help settle the matter. (shrink)
In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more damaging to externalist (...) representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam. (shrink)
I propose a counterexample to naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. The counterexample is generated by experiences of novel colours reported by Crane and Piantanida. I consider various replies that a representationalist might make, including whether novel colours could be possible colours of objects and whether one can account for novel colours as one would account for binary colours or colour mixtures. I argue that none of these strategies is successful and therefore that one cannot fully explain the nature of (...) the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences using a naturalistic conception of representation. (shrink)
Is there a space of the sensory modalities? Such a space would be one in which we can represent all the actual, and at least some of the possible, sensory modalities. The relative position of the senses in this space would indicate how similar and how different the senses were from each other. The construction of such a space might reveal unconsidered features of the actual and possible senses, help us to define what a sense is, and provide grounds that (...) we might use to decide what is one token sense rather than multiple token senses. -/- In this paper, I explore, refine, and defend the idea that we can construct such a space—an idea that I briefly proposed in earlier work (Macpherson 2011a and 2011b). In doing so, I defend the idea from an objection that Richard Gray (2012) has voiced. Gray claims that the dimensions of the space of sensory modalities must generate a non-‐arbitrary ordering of the senses. He argues that we cannot find dimensions that do so. I disagree. I identify different ways in which a space could be arbitrary but I argue that we can define a space of the sensory modalities in a non-arbitrary manner. I give examples of what the dimensions might be. (shrink)
Reflection on skeptical scenarios in the philosophy of perception, made vivid in the arguments from illusion and hallucination, have led to the formulation of theories of the metaphysical and epistemological nature of perceptual experience. In recent times, the locus of the debate concerning the nature of perceptual experience has been the dispute between disjunctivists and common-kind theorists. Disjunctivists have held that there are substantial dissimilarities (either metaphysical or epistemological or both) between veridical perceptual experiences occurring when one perceives and perceptual (...) experiences involved in hallucination. Common-kind theorists have denied this. In this paper, I examine the nature of introspection – a faculty that has often been compared and contrasted to perception. I reflect on cases where introspection goes wrong in ways analogous to that in which our perceptual faculties can go wrong and formulate, what I take to be, an attractive theory of introspection. The cases that I focus on in which things go wrong are the case of zombies and the case of subjects with Anton’s syndrome. (Anton’s syndrome is a condition in which people who are blind claim that they can see.) I suggest that, just as it is possible to be a disjunctivist about perception, it is possible to be a disjunctivist about introspection. I argue that this is a good view of one type of introspection, namely, introspection of states that have phenomenal character, such as perceptual experiences. It has a good account to give of the cases in which such introspection seems to go wrong and it yields a plausible metaphysical and epistemological view of the nature of introspection. However, while I favour a disjunctive view of introspection, I do not favour a disjunctive view of perception. And, I suspect, that many disjunctivists about perception would not wish to condone my disjunctivist theory of introspection. I therefore go on to examine to what extent.. (shrink)
This volume presents ten new essays on the nature of perceptual imagination and perceptual memory. The central questions are: How do perceptual imagination and memory resemble and differ from each other and from other kinds of sensory experience? And what role does each play in perception and in the acquisition of knowledge?
Synaesthesia is most often characterised as a union or mixing of the senses. i Richard Cytowic describes it thus: “It denotes the rare capacity to hear colours, taste shapes or experience other equally startling sensory blendings whose quality seems difficult for most of us to imagine” ( 1997, 7). One famous example is of a man who “tasted shapes”. When he experienced flavours he also experienced shapes rubbing against his face or hands. ii Such popular characterisations are rough and ready. (...) What is certainly true about synaesthesia is that it involves the interaction between sensory phenomena: in response to certain stimuli some sensory phenomena are elicited in synaesthetes that are not elicited in non-synaesthetes. However, the exact nature of the additional sensory phenomena forms a large part of the debate on the nature of synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a condition that has been known about for some time. In the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth, century very many articles appeared on the topic in the psychological literature. iii Much of this work on synaesthesia relied on introspective reports of subjects. In consequence, when later in the twentieth century psychologists eschewed introspective reports and radical behaviourist methodology became the order of the day, synaesthesia was rarely a topic of research. In more recent times, however, psychology has once again changed tack. With the advent of cognitive psychology and of objective techniques that try to probe the nature of conscious states of the mind that are reported in introspection, psychological interest in synaesthesia has resumed. Many new findings about the subject have recently been brought to light. In philosophy, interest in synaesthesia is only just beginning to arise. The phenomenon is potentially philosophically interesting for several reasons.. (shrink)
This paper examines the representationalist view of experiences in the light of the phenomena of perfect and relative pitch. Two main kinds of representationalism are identified - environment-based and cognitive role-based. It is argued that to explain the relationship between the two theories a distinction should be drawn between various types of implicit and explicit content. When investigated, this distinction sheds some light on the difference between the phenomenology of perfect and relative pitch experiences and may be usefully applied to (...) describe the nature of experiences in the other sense modalities. (shrink)
 Recent philosophy of mind and epistemology has seen an important and influential trend towards accounting for at least some features of experiences in content-involving terms. It is a contested point whether ascribing content to experiences can account for all the intrinsic properties of experiences, but on many theories of experiences there are close links between the ascription of content and the ways in which experiences are ascribed and typed. The issues here have both epistemological and psychological dimensions. On the (...) one hand, a theory of experiential content has a fundamental role in explaining how knowledge of the world can be acquired through experience. On the other hand, there are important psychological questions about the phenomenology of experiences and the conditions under which content ascriptions are made. (shrink)
Some naturalistic theories of consciousness give an essential role to teleology.1 This teleology is said to arise due to natural selection. Thus it is claimed that only certain states, namely, those that have been selected for by evolutionary pro- cesses because they contribute to (or once contributed to) an organism’s fitness, are conscious states. These theories look as if they are assigning a creative role to natural selection. If a state is conscious only if it has been selected for, then (...) selec- tion appears to be able to create a new feature of states, namely, their conscious nature. Yet, intuitively, natural selection cannot create anything. Natural selec- tion chooses certain features that already exist and makes them more (or less) prevalent in a population, but it cannot bring features into existence itself. Natu- ral selection can select for conscious states, but it cannot create them. This con- clusion has recently been argued for by Steven Horst (1999). If it is right, then teleological theories of conscious states should be rejected. A state cannot become a conscious experience in virtue of having been selected for by evolu- tionary process. (shrink)
Is the sense-data theory, otherwise known as indirect realism, a form of representationalism? This question has been underexplored in the extant literature, and to the extent that there is discussion, contemporary authors disagree. There are many different variants of representationalism, and differences between these variants that some people have taken to be inconsequential turn out to be key factors in whether the sense-data theory is a form of representationalism. Chief among these are whether a representationalist takes the phenomenal character of (...) an experience to be explicable in virtue of the properties of an experience that represent something or explicable in virtue of that which gets represented. Another is whether representationalists hold a non-reductionist, or naturalistically or non-naturalistically reductionist variant of representationalism. In addition, subtle differences in what one takes phenomenal character to be on the sense-data theory – either awareness of sense-data or the sense-data themselves – together with one's account of representation, are crucial factors in determining whether sense-data theory is compatible with representationalism. This paper explores these relationships and makes manifest the complexities of the metaphysics of two central theories of perception. (shrink)
This thesis is an examination and critique of naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. Phenomenal character refers to the distinctive quality that perceptual and sensational experiences seem to have; it is identified with 'what it is like' to undergo experiences. The central claims of representationalism are that phenomenal character is identical with the content of experience and that all representational states, bearing appropriate relations to the cognitive system, are conscious experiences. These claims are taken to explain both how conscious experiential (...) states arise and their nature. After examining the desiderata for naturalistic explanations, I argue that theories which ascribe nonconceptual content to experiences are the most plausible versions of representationalism. Further, causal covariation and teleological theories yield distinctive and interesting representationalist positions, hence, they become the focus of this study. To assess representationalism, I investigate whether all differences in phenomenal character can be correlated with differences in content. I claim that a useful distinction can be drawn between implicit and explicit content, which allows one to best describe the phenomena of perfect and relative pitch. I then argue that ambiguous figures show that two experiences can have the same content but different phenomenal character. I explicate the Inverted Earth hypothesis and claim that to identify content and phenomenal character, representationalists either have to condone the possibility of philosophical zombies, or hold that people lack authoritative first-person knowledge of their current experiences. Both these positions are unpalatable. Finally, I argue that representationalists cannot ascribe contents to experiences of novel colours to account for their phenomenal character. I also question, in light of dissociation phenomena, whether there is one distinctive relationship that all experiences bear to the cognitive system. I conclude that phenomenal character cannot be identical with the type of content under investigation, and that naturalistic representationalist theories cannot fully explain conscious experience. (shrink)
This paper is divided into two main sections. The first articulates what I believe Strawson's position to be. I contrast Strawson's usage of 'physicalism' with the mainstream use. I then explain why I think that Strawson's position is one of property dualism and substance monism. In doing this, I outline his view and Locke's view on the nature of substance. I argue that they are similar in many respects and thus it is no surprise that Strawson actually holds a view (...) on the mind much like one plausible interpretation of Locke's position. Strawson's use of terminology cloaks this fact and he does not himself explicitly recognize it in his paper. In the second section, I outline some of Strawson's assumptions that he uses in arguing for his position. I comment on the plausibility of his position concerning the relation of the mind to the body compared with mainstream physicalism and various forms of dualism. Before embarking on the two main sections, in the remainder of this introduction, I very briefly sketch Strawson's view. (shrink)
The question of whether perception can be penetrated by cognition is in the limelight again. The reason this question keeps coming up is that there is so much at stake: Is it possible to have theory-neutral observation? Is it possible to study perception without recourse to expectations, context, and beliefs? What are the boundaries between perception, memory, and inference (and do they even exist)? Are findings from neuroscience that paint a picture of perception as an inherently bidirectional and interactive process (...) relevant for understanding the relationship between cognition and perception? We have assembled a group of philosophers and psychologists who have been considering the thesis of cognitive (im)penetrability in light of these questions (Abdel Rahman & Sommer, 2008; Goldstone, Landy, & Brunel, 2011; Lupyan, Thompson-Schill, & Swingley, 2010; Macpherson, 2012; Stokes, 2011). Rather than rehashing previous arguments which appear, in retrospect, to have been somewhat ill-posed (Pylyshyn, 1999), this symposium will present a thesis of cognitive (im)penetrability that is at once philosophically satisfying, empirically testable, and relevant to the questions that cognitive scientists find most interesting. (shrink)
What kinds of features of the world figure consciously in our perceptual experience? Colours and shapes are uncontroversial; but what about volumes, natural kinds, reasons for belief, existences, relations? Eleven new essays investigate different kinds of phenomenal presence.
Sensory substitution and augmentation devices are used to replace or enhance one sense by using another. Fiona Macpherson brings together neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers to focus on the nature of the perceptual experiences, the sensory interactions, and the changes that occur in the mind and brain while using these technologies.