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 cognitive penetration 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)
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)
Visualizing and mental imagery are thought to be cognitive states by all sides of the imagery debate. Yet the phenomenology of those states has distinctly visual ingredients. This has potential consequences for the hypothesis that vision is cognitively impenetrable, the ability of visual processes to ground perceptual warrant and justification, and the distinction between cognitive and perceptual phenomenology. I explore those consequences by describing two forms of visual ambiguity that involve visualizing: the ability to visually experience a picture surface as (...) flat after it has caused volumetric nonconceptual contents, and the ability to use a surface initially perceived as flat to visualize three-dimensional scenes. In both cases, the visual processes which extract viewer-centered volumetric shapes have to rely solely on monocular depth cues in the absence of parallax and stereopsis. Those processes can be cognitively penetrated by acts of visualizing, including ones that draw on conceptual information about kinds. However, the penetrability of the visual processes does not weaken their ability to provide perceptual warrant and justification for beliefs. The reason is that picture perceptions—whether they are stimulus -driven or based on acts of visualizing—are different to object perceptions both phenomenologically and in terms of their functional roles as states. Thus, although the penetrability of the visual processes does mean that subjects can have visual experiences with contradictory contents, perceptual belief is adopted at most towards one set of contents, and questions of warrant and justification are raised only for those contents. A rule-proving exception is provided by trompe-l’oeils. (shrink)
Digital pictures can be type-identical in respect of colours, shapes and sizes (allographic), but they are not tokens of notational systems, because the types under which they are identical have vague limits and do not meet the requirements for notational characters. Digital display devices are designed to instantiate only limited ranges of objective properties (light intensities, sizes and shapes). Those ranges keep differences in objective magnitudes below sensory discrimination thresholds, and thus define objective conditions sufficient, but not necessary, for the (...) phenomenal type-identity of pictures. The fact that digital pictures are types shows that pictures are not necessarily autographic. Moreover, the reasons why digital pictures are allographic (essentially, the consistent manipulation of sub-phenomenal information) could in principle also be made to apply to non-digital pictures. (shrink)
How do we acquire thoughts and beliefs about particulars by looking at pictures? One kind of reply essentially compares depiction to perception, holding that picture-perception is a form of remote object-perception. Lopes’s theory that pictures refer by demonstrative identification, and Walton’s transparency theory for photographs, constitute such remote acquaintance theories of depiction. The main purpose of this paper is to defend an alternative conception of pictures, on which they are not suitable for acquainting us with particulars but for acquainting us (...) with certain kinds of properties. This conception is outlined in §4, where it is argued that pictures are useful devices for what Heal has called indexical predication. In §2 and §3, I explain why I believe that remote acquaintance theories are false, and why picture-perception cannot function as a form of extended or remote object-perception. The main reason is that the contents of picture-perceptions do not themselves provide the kind of numerical and contextual information required for singular thought. Picture-reference is instead secured by independent beliefs or linguistic communication about the causal history of pictures as objects. In other words, it is beliefs about the numerical identity of pictures as objects that anchors the reference of the representational contents of pictures. (shrink)
Definitions of phenomenal types (Nelson Goodman’s definition of qualia, Sydney Shoemaker’s phenomenal types, Austen Clark’s physicalist theory of qualia) imply that numerically distinct experiences can be type-identical in some sense. However, Goodman also argues that objects cannot be replicated in respect of continuous and densely ordered types. In that case, how can phenomenal types be defined for sizes, shapes and colours, which appear to be continuously ordered types? Concentrating on size, I will argue for the following points. (§2) We cannot (...) deny the possibility of replication in respect of dense types, because this would imply that particulars have determinable sizes, shapes and colours. (§3) Phenomenal sizes and shapes are determinable types; objective, or super-determinate, sizes and shapes are unknowable. (§4) We can define and know, prior to verification, groupings of objective sizes for which indiscriminability is transitive. (§5) Phenomenal identity has to be defined on the basis of these transitive groupings, because finer-grained criteria (such as Goodman’s) lead to definition of objective identity. The quality space of phenomenal types consists of overlapping but not dense types, and this prevents a collapse of phenomenal types. (shrink)
I argue that there is no distinction between allographic and autographic representations. One consequence of this is that replicative forgeries have the same aesthetic and artistic value as originals, and are accurate records of actions. I end with some reflections on the pragmatic structure of forgery.
Perceptual beliefs that categorize objects can be justified by demonstrating basic properties (eg shapes) of the objects. In these justifications, perceptual justifiers have different contents to the beliefs they justify. I argue that the justifications are not inferential. Subjects are unlikely to have bodies of beliefs adequate to inferentially justify the beliefs they actually form on the strength of their object recognition abilities, especially when recognition depends on stimulus-dependent retrieval of visual memories. Instead, I argue, the justifications exploit a partial (...) awareness that subjects have of states and processes involved in object recognition. As such, they show that subjects have a degree of internal access to the principles of externalistic perceptual warrant, and to the features of perceptual states that give them justificatory force on externalistic accounts. The justifications themselves are evidential, but in order for them to have any justificatory force, they have to be placed in an externalistic framework for perceptual justification. I conclude that this form of justification shows that subjects have a degree of insight into why their perceptual experiences justify their beliefs. (shrink)
Thought experiments have a mysterious way of informing us about the world, apparently without examining it, yet with a great degree of certainty. It is tempting to try to explain this capacity by making use of the idea that in thought experiments, the mind somehow simulates the processes about which it reaches conclusions. Here, I test this idea. I argue that when they predict the outcomes of hypothetical physical situations, thought experiments cannot simulate physical processes. They use mental models, which (...) should not be confused with process-driven simulations. A convincing case can be made that thought experiments about hypothetical mental processes are mental simulations. Concerning moral thought experiments, I argue that construing them as simulations of mental processes favours certain moral theories over others. The scope of mental simulation in thought experiments is primarily limited by the constraint of relevant similarity on source and target processes: on one hand, this constraint disqualifies thought from simulating external natural processes; on the other hand, it is a source of epistemic bias in moral thought experiments. In view of these results, I conclude that thought experiments and mental simulations cannot be assimilated as means of acquiring knowledge. (shrink)
Theories that seek to explain the status of psychological states experienced in fictional contexts either claim that those states are special propositional attitudes specific to fictional contexts (make-believe attitudes), or else define them as normal propositional attitudes by stretching the concept of a propositional attitude to include ‘objectless’ states that do not imply constraints such as truth or satisfaction. I argue that the first theory is either vacuous or false, and that the second, by defining the reality of the states (...) in question only nominally, risks having a result similar to the first. Then I put forward an explanation of how propositional attitudes function in fictional contexts which meets the following requirements: (i) does not postulate the existence of attitudes specific to or definitive of fictionality; (ii) does not imply that we transgress our knowledge of the ontological claims of fictions for some attitudes (for example, fear) but not others (belief); (iii) explains how we can adopt normal propositional attitudes towards fictions; (iv) allows explanation of how attitudes adopted during fictional response connect or are relevant to our broader systems of belief and volition. (shrink)
Among the book's arguments: Aesthetic property relativism, as described by Alan Goldman, requires subjects to make judgments based on prima facie preferences for determinable properties (eg being curved, being blue). These judgments are not bona fide because they do not require acquaintance with objects. Value concepts and aesthetic (thick) concepts relate contingently. We can be aesthetic property realists, or quasi-realists, without being aesthetic value realists. Contains epistemological arguments against neuro-aesthetics (Ramachandran), aesthetic sense theory (Hutcheson), physiological theories (Burke), and Hume's realism.