In this Introduction we introduce the central themes of the Evaluative Perception volume. After identifying historical and recent contemporary work on this topic, we discuss some central questions under three headings: (1) Questions about the Existence and Nature of Evaluative Perception: Are there perceptual experiences of values? If so, what is their nature? Are experiences of values sui generis? Are values necessary for certain kinds of experience? (2) Questions about the Epistemology of Evaluative Perception: Can evaluative experiences (...) ever justify evaluative judgments? Are experiences of values necessary for certain kinds of justified evaluative judgments? (3) Questions about Value Theory and Evaluative Perception: Is the existence of evaluative experience supported or undermined by particular views in value theory? Are particular views in value theory supported or undermined by the existence of value experience? (shrink)
Outside of philosophy, ‘intuition’ means something like ‘knowing without knowing how you know’. Intuition in this broad sense is an important epistemological category. I distinguish intuition from perception and perception from perceptual experience, in order to discuss the distinctive psychological and epistemological status of evaluative property attributions. Although it is doubtful that we perceptually experience many evaluative properties and also somewhat unlikely that we perceive many evaluative properties, it is highly plausible that we intuit many instances of evaluative (...) properties as such. The resulting epistemological status of evaluative property attributions is very much like it would be if we literally perceived such properties. (shrink)
This collection of essays by eminent philosopher Fred Dretske brings together work on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind spanning thirty years. The two areas combine to lay the groundwork for a naturalistic philosophy of mind. The fifteen essays focus on perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Together, they show the interconnectedness of Dretske's work in epistemology and his more contemporary ideas on philosophy of mind, shedding light on the links which can be made between the two. The first (...) section of the book argues the point that knowledge consists of beliefs with the right objective connection to facts; two essays discuss this conception of knowledge's implications for naturalism. The next section articulates a view of perception, attempting to distinguish conceptual states from phenomenal states. A naturalized philosophy of mind, and thus a naturalized epistemology, is articulated in the third section. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students, and will also be of interest to cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of biology. (shrink)
This paper defends doubts about the existence of genuine moral perception, understood as the claim that at least some moral properties figure in the contents of perceptual experience. Standard examples of moral perception are better explained as transitions in thought whose degree of psychological immediacy varies with how readily non-moral perceptual inputs, jointly with the subject's background moral beliefs, training, and habituation, trigger the kinds of phenomenological responses that moral agents are normally disposed to have when they represent (...) things as being morally a certain way. (shrink)
Many of Margaret Cavendish’s criticisms of Thomas Hobbes in the Philosophical Letters (1664) relate to the disorder and damage that she holds would result if Hobbesian pressure were the cause of visual perception. In this paper, I argue that her “two men” thought experiment in Letter IV is aimed at a different goal: to show the explanatory potency of her account. First, I connect Cavendish’s view of visual perception as “patterning” to the “two men” thought experiment in Letter (...) IV. Second, I provide a potential reply on Hobbes’s behalf that appeals to physiological differences between perceivers’ sense organs, drawing upon Hobbes’s optics in De homine. Third, I argue that such a reply would misunderstand Cavendish’s objective of showing the limited explanatory resources available in understanding visual perception as pressing when compared to her view of visual perception as patterning. (shrink)
Sarah McGrath argues that moral perception has an advantage over its rivals in its ability to explain ordinary moral knowledge. I disagree. After clarifying what the moral perceptualist is and is not committed to, I argue that rival views are both more numerous and more plausible than McGrath suggests: specifically, I argue that inferentialism can be defended against McGrath’s objections; if her arguments against inferentialism succeed, we should accept a different rival that she neglects, intuitionism; and, reductive epistemologists can (...) appeal to non-naturalist commitments to avoid McGrath’s counterexamples. (shrink)
Early modern empiricists thought that the nature of perceptual experience is given by citing the object presented to the mind in that experience. Hallucination and illusion suggest that this requires untenable mind-dependent objects. Current orthodoxy replaces the appeal to direct objects with the claim that perceptual experience is characterized instead by its representational content. This paper argues that the move to content is problematic, and reclaims the early modern empiricist insight as perfectly consistent, even in cases of illusion, with the (...) realist contention that these direct objects of perception are the persisting mind-independent physical objects we all know and love. (shrink)
What is the nature of, and what is the relationship between, external objects and our visual perceptual experience of them? In this book, Frank Jackson defends the answers provided by the traditional Representative theory of perception. He argues, among other things that we are never immediately aware of external objects, that they are the causes of our perceptual experiences and that they have only the primary qualities. In the course of the argument, sense data and the distinction between mediate (...) and immediate perception receive detailed defences and the author criticises attempts to reduce perceiving the believing and to show that the Representative theory makes the external world unknowable. Jackson recognises that his views are unfashionable but argues in detail that they are to be preferred to their currently favoured competitors. It will become an obvious point of reference for all future work on the philosophy of perception. (shrink)
"Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us," writes Alva Noe. "It is something we do." In Action in Perception, Noe argues that perception and perceptual consciousness depend on capacities for action and thought — that ...
This book offers solutions to two persistent and I believe closely related problems in epistemology. The first problem is that of drawing a principled distinction between perception and inference: what is the difference between seeing that something is the case and merely believing it on the basis of what we do see? The second problem is that of specifying which beliefs are epistemologically basic (i.e., directly, or noninferentially, justified) and which are not. I argue that what makes a belief (...) a perceptual belief, or a basic belief, is not any introspectible feature of the belief but rather the nature of the cognitive system, or "module", that is causally responsible for the belief. Thus, even zombies, who in the philosophical literature lack conscious experiences altogether, can have basic, justified, perceptual beliefs. -/- The theories of perceptual and basic beliefs developed in the monograph are embedded in a larger reliabilist epistemology. I use this theory of basic beliefs to develop a detailed reliabilist theory: Inferentialist Reliabilism, which offers a reliabilist theory of inferential justification and which solves some longstanding problems for other reliabilist views by demanding inferential support for some—but not all—beliefs. The book is an instance of a thoroughgoingly naturalistic approach to epistemology. Many of my arguments have an empirical basis, and the view that I endorse reserves a central role for the cognitive sciences—in particular, cognitive neuroscience—in filling in the details of an applied epistemological theory. (shrink)
We can see a theft, hear a lie, and feel a stabbing. These are morally important perceptions. But are they also moral perceptions--distinctively moral responses? In this book, Robert Audi develops an original account of moral perceptions, shows how they figure in human experience, and argues that they provide moral knowledge. He offers a theory of perception as an informative representational relation to objects and events. He describes the experiential elements in perception, illustrates moral perception in relation (...) to everyday observations, and explains how moral perception justifies moral judgments and contributes to objectivity in ethics. -/- Moral perception does not occur in isolation. Intuition and emotion may facilitate it, influence it, and be elicited by it. Audi explores the nature and variety of intuitions and their relation to both moral perception and emotion, providing the broadest and most refined statement to date of his widely discussed intuitionist view in ethics. He also distinguishes several kinds of moral disagreement and assesses the challenge it poses for ethical objectivism. -/- Philosophically argued but interdisciplinary in scope and interest, Moral Perception advances our understanding of central problems in ethics, moral psychology, epistemology, and the theory of the emotions. (shrink)
When we see an object, we also represent those parts of it that are not visible. The question is how we represent them: this is the problem of amodal perception. I will consider three possible accounts: (a) we see them, (b) we have non-perceptual beliefs about them and (c) we have immediate perceptual access to them, and point out that all of these views face both empirical and conceptual objections. I suggest and defend a fourth account, according to which (...) we represent the occluded parts of perceived objects by means of mental imagery. This conclusion could be thought of as a (weak) version of the Strawsonian dictum, according to which “imagination is a necessary ingredient of perception itself”. (shrink)
This book offers a provocative, clear and rigorously argued account of the nature of perception and its role in the production of knowledge. Walter Hopp argues that perceptual experiences do not have conceptual content, and that what makes them play a distinctive epistemic role is not the features which they share with beliefs, but something that in fact sets them radically apart. He explains that the reason-giving relation between experiences and beliefs is what Edmund Husserl called 'fulfilment' - in (...) which we find something to be as we think it to be. His book covers a wide range of central topics in contemporary philosophy of mind, epistemology and traditional phenomenology. It is essential reading for contemporary analytic philosophers of mind and phenomenologists alike. (shrink)
Questions about perception remain some of the most difficult and insoluble in both epistemology and in the philosophy of mind. This controversial but highly accessible introduction to the area explores the philosophical importance of those questions by re-examining what had until recent times been the most popular theory of perception - the sense-datum theory. Howard Robinson surveys the history of the arguments for and against the theory from Descartes to Husserl. He then shows that the objections to the (...) theory, particularly Wittgenstein's attack on privacy and those of the physicalists, have been unsuccessful. He argues that we should return to the theory sense-data in order to understand perception. In doing so he seeks to overturn a consensus that has dominated the philosophy of perception for nearly half a century. (shrink)
Physical objects are such things as stones, tables, trees, people and other animals: the persisting macroscopic constituents of the world we live in. therefore expresses a commonsense commitment to physical realism: the persisting macroscopic constituents of the world we live in exist, and are as they are, quite independently of anyone.
Bill Brewer presents an original view of the role of conscious experience in the acquisition of empirical knowledge. He argues that perceptual experiences must provide reasons for empirical beliefs if there are to be any determinate beliefs at all about particular objects in the world. This fresh approach to epistemology turns away from the search for necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge and works instead from a theory of understanding in a particular area.
This book does several things, and it does them all well. Yolton firmly contextualizes the debates about perception within the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while showing how these debates are often repeated in contemporary philosophy of mind. Along the way, he provides novel interpretations of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant that are clearly and convincingly presented. Perhaps the most important feature of his treatment is that it so vividly shows the Moderns grappling with issues about perception that (...) continue to plague us. The uniting theme of the work is Yolton’s insistence that direct realism and representationalism are compatible. Yolton’s defense of direct realism is largely motivated by the thesis that many philosophers incorrectly take a representational theory of mind to necessitate indirect realism. This mistake arises, according to Yolton, because they suppose that the representations themselves become the objects of perception and therefore stand between the perceiver and the world of objects. Yolton’s argument that the philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were struggling to establish two interactive relations between perceivers and the physical world underlies his compatibility thesis: There is a physical and causal relationship and, more importantly, there is what Yolton calls a “cognitive” or “semantic” relationship. The latter relationship holds the key to the compatibility of representationalism with direct realism. (shrink)
In this work Tim Ingold provides a persuasive new approach to the theory behind our perception of the world around us. The core of the argument is that where we refer to cultural variation we should be instead be talking about variation in skill. Neither genetically innate or culturally acquired, skills are incorporated into the human organism through practice and training in an environment.They are as much biological as cultural.
In the Garden of Eden, we had unmediated contact with the world. We were directly acquainted with objects in the world and with their properties. Objects were simply presented to us without causal mediation, and properties were revealed to us in their true intrinsic glory.
This paper, in opposition to the standard theories of social cognition found in psychology and cognitive science, defends the idea that direct perception plays an important role in social cognition. The two dominant theories, theory theory and simulation theory , both posit something more than a perceptual element as necessary for our ability to understand others, i.e., to “mindread” or “mentalize.” In contrast, certain phenomenological approaches depend heavily on the concept of perception and the idea that we have (...) a direct perceptual grasp of the other person’s intentions, feelings, etc. This paper explains precisely what the notion of direct perception means, offers evidence from developmental studies, and proposes a non-simulationist interpretation of the neuroscience of mirror systems. (shrink)
In the 1980s, a number of philosophers argued that perception is analog. In the ensuing years, these arguments were forcefully criticized, leaving the thesis in doubt. This paper draws on Weber’s Law, a well-entrenched finding from psychophysics, to advance a new argument that perception is analog. This new argument is an adaptation of an argument that cognitive scientists have leveraged in support of the contention that primitive numerical representations are analog. But the argument here is extended to the (...) representation of non-numerical magnitudes, such as luminance and distance, and shown to apply to perception and not just cognition. The relevant sense of ‘analog’ is also clarified, and two powerful objections are addressed. Finally, the question whether perception’s analog vehicles are located in conscious experience is explored and related to a well-known controversy within psychophysics. (shrink)
The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say ’No’, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say ’Yes’. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level content can (...) directly inform the phenomenal character of perception. (shrink)
Mind perception entails ascribing mental capacities to other entities, whereas moral judgment entails labeling entities as good or bad or actions as right or wrong. We suggest that mind perception is the essence of moral judgment. In particular, we suggest that moral judgment is rooted in a cognitive template of two perceived minds—a moral dyad of an intentional agent and a suffering moral patient. Diverse lines of research support dyadic morality. First, perceptions of mind are linked to moral (...) judgments: dimensions of mind perception (agency and experience) map onto moral types (agents and patients), and deficits of mind perception correspond to difficulties with moral judgment. Second, not only are moral judgments sensitive to perceived agency and experience, but all moral transgressions are fundamentally understood as agency plus experienced suffering—that is, interpersonal harm—even ostensibly harmless acts such as purity violations. Third, dyadic morality uniquely accounts for the phenomena of dyadic completion (seeing agents in response to patients, and vice versa), and moral typecasting (characterizing others as either moral agents or moral patients). Discussion also explores how mind perception can unify morality across explanatory levels, how a dyadic template of morality may be developmentally acquired, and future directions. (shrink)
This book clarifies Husserl's notion of perceptual experience as "immediate" or "direct" with respect to its purported object, and outlines his theory of evidence. In particular, it focuses on Husserl's account of our perceptual experience of time, an aspect of perception rarely noted in', recent philosophical literature, yet which must be taken into consideration if an adequate account of perception is to be provided. Perhaps equally important, there is a new wave of work in phenomenology (and intentionality), reflecting (...) a synthesis of phenomenological and analytic philosophy, Miller's book is an important contribution to that "new wave," and has a significant bearing on contemporary issues in cognitive science. (shrink)
When we perceive an object, we perceive the object from a perspective. As a consequence of the perspectival nature of perception, when we perceive, say, a circular coin from different angles, there is a respect in which the coin looks circular throughout, but also a respect in which the coin's appearance changes. More generally, perception of shape and size properties has both a constant aspect—an aspect that remains stable across changes in perspective—and a perspectival aspect—an aspect that changes (...) depending on one's perspective on the object. How should we account for the perspectival aspect of spatial perception? We present a framework within which to discuss the perspectival aspect of perception and put forward three desiderata that any account of the perspectival aspect of perception should satisfy. We discuss views on which the perspectival aspect of perception is analyzed in terms of constitutively mind-dependent appearance properties as well as views on which the perspectival aspect of perception is analyzed in terms of representations of mind-independent perspectival properties. (shrink)
Predictive approaches to the mind claim that perception, cognition, and action can be understood in terms of a single framework: a hierarchy of Bayesian models employing the computational strategy of predictive coding. Proponents of this view disagree, however, over the extent to which perception is direct on the predictive approach. I argue that we can resolve these disagreements by identifying three distinct notions of perceptual directness: psychological, metaphysical, and epistemological. I propose that perception is plausibly construed as (...) psychologically indirect on the predictive approach, in the sense of being constructivist or inferential. It would be wrong to conclude from this, however, that perception is therefore indirect in a metaphysical or epistemological sense on the predictive approach. In the metaphysical case, claims about the inferential properties of constructivist perceptual mechanisms are consistent with both direct and indirect solutions to the metaphysical problem of perception (e.g. naïve realism, representationalism, sense datum theory). In the epistemological case, claims about the inferential properties of constructivist perceptual mechanisms are consistent with both direct and indirect approaches to the justification of perceptual belief. In this paper, I demonstrate how proponents of the predictive approach have conflated these distinct notions of perceptual directness and indirectness, and I propose alternative strategies for developing the philosophical consequences of the approach. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that at least some moral properties can be part of the contents of experience. I argue for this claim using a _contrast argument_, a type of argument commonly found in the literature on the philosophy of perception. I first appeal to psychological research on what I call emotionally empathetic dysfunctional individuals to establish a phenomenal contrast between EEDI s and normal individuals in some moral situations. I then argue that the best explanation for this contrast, (...) assuming non-skeptical moral realism, is that _badness_ is represented in the normal individual’s experience but not in the EEDI ’s experience. I consider and reject four alternative explanations of the contrast. (shrink)
Vision has been the primary focus of naturalistic philosophical research concerning perception and perceptual experience. Guided by visual experience and vision science, many philosophers have focused upon theoretical issues dealing with the perception of objects. Recently, however, hearing researchers have discussed auditory objects. I present the case for object perception in vision, and argue that an analog of object perception occurs in auditory perception. I propose a notion of an auditory object that is stronger than (...) just that of an intentional object of audition, but that does not identify auditory objects with the ordinary material objects we see. (shrink)
It is close to current orthodoxy that perceptual experience is to be characterized, at least in part, by its representational content, roughly, by the way it represents things as being in the world around the perceiver. Call this basic idea the content view.
A traditional view of perception and action makestwo assumptions: that the causal flow betweenperception and action is primarily linear or one-way,and that they are merely instrumentally related toeach other, so that each is a means to the other.Either or both of these assumptions can be rejected. Behaviorism rejects the instrumental but not theone-way aspect of the traditional view, thus leavingitself open to charges of verificationism. Ecologicalviews reject the one-way aspect but not theinstrumental aspect of the traditional view, so thatperception (...) and action are seen as instrumentallyinterdependent. It is argued here that a betteralternative is to reject both assumptions, resultingin a two-level interdependence view in whichperception and action co-depend on dynamicallycircular subpersonal relations and as a result may bemore than merely instrumentally interdependent. Thisis illustrated by reference to motor theories ofperception and control theories of action. (shrink)
The success of the Bayesian approach to perception suggests probabilistic perceptual representations. But if perceptual representation is probabilistic, why doesn't normal conscious perception reflect the full probability distributions that the probabilistic point of view endorses? For example, neurons in MT/V5 that respond to the direction of motion are broadly tuned: a patch of cortex that is tuned to vertical motion also responds to horizontal motion, but when we see vertical motion, foveally, in good conditions, it does not look (...) at all horizontal. This article argues that the best Bayesian approach to this problem does not require probabilistic representation. (shrink)
Philosophers have lately seized upon Sperling's partial report technique and subsequent work on iconic memory in support of controversial claims about perceptual experience, in particular that phenomenology overflows cognitive access. Drawing on mounting evidence concerning postdictive perception, I offer an interpretation of Sperling's data in terms of cue-sensitive experience which fails to support any such claims. Arguments for overflow based on change-detection paradigms (e.g. Landman et al., 2003; Sligte et al., 2008) cannot be blocked in this way. However, such (...) paradigms are fundamentally different from Sperling's and, for rather different reasons, equally fail to establish controversial claims about perceptual experience. (shrink)
Charles Travis presents a series of essays on philosophy of perception, inspired by the insights of Gottlob Frege. He engages with a range of contemporary thinkers, and explores key issues including how perception can make the world bear on what we do or think, and what sorts of capacities we draw on in representing something as (being) something.
Representation and content in some (actual) theories of perception -- Representation in perception and cognition : task analysis, psychological functions, and rule instantiation -- Perception as unconscious inference -- Representation and constraints : the inverse problem and the structure of visual space -- On perceptual constancy -- Getting objects for free (or not) : the philosophy and psychology of object perception -- Color perception and neural encoding : does metameric matching entail a loss of information? (...) -- Objectivity and subjectivity revisited : color as a psychobiological property -- Sense data and the mind body problem -- The reality of qualia -- The sensory core and the medieval foundations of early modern perceptual theory -- Postscript (2008) on Ibn al-Haytham's (Alhacen's) theory of vision -- Attention in early scientific psychology -- Psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science : reflections on the history and philosophy of experimental psychology -- What can the mind tell us about the brain? : psychology, neurophysiology, and constraint -- Introspective evidence in psychology. (shrink)
This paper explores the epistemological significance of the view that we can literally see, hear, and touch evaluative properties (the high-level theory of value perception). My central contention is that, from the perspective of epistemology, the question of whether there are such high-level experiences doesn’t matter. Insofar as there are such experiences, they most plausibly emerged through the right kind of interaction with evaluative capacities that are not literally perceptual (e.g., of the sort involved in imaginative evaluative reflection). But (...) even if these other evaluative capacities turn out not to alter the content of perceptual experience, they would still be sufficient to do all of the justificatory work that high-level experiences are meant to do. I close by observing that it may matter a great deal whether a certain other picture of value perception is true. This alternative picture has it that desires and/or emotions are perceptual-like experiences of value. (shrink)
Philosophers and cognitive scientists of perception by custom have investigated individual sense modalities in relative isolation from each other. However, perceiving is, in a number of respects, multimodal. The traditional sense modalities should not be treated as explanatorily independent. Attention to the multimodal aspects of perception challenges common assumptions about the content and phenomenology of perception, and about the individuation and psychological nature of sense modalities. Multimodal perception thus presents a valuable opportunity for a case study (...) in mature interdisciplinary cognitive science. This chapter aims to raise these issues against the background of unimodal approaches in the study of perception. It presents some of the central empirical findings concerning multimodality, and it explains the philosophical implications of these findings. Foremost, it aims to encourage and open avenues for future research. (shrink)