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.
In discussions of perception and its relation to knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one's belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver comes to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Consider the content.
In this paper I offer a theory of what makes certain influences on visual experiences by prior mental states (including desires, beliefs, moods, and fears) reduce the justificatory force of those experiences. The main idea is that experiences, like beliefs, can have rationally assessable etiologies, and when those etiologies are irrational, the experiences are epistemically downgraded.
This paper makes the case that when wishful thinking ill-founds belief, the belief depends on the desire in ways can be recapitulated at the level of perceptual experience. The relevant kinds of desires include motivations, hopes, preferences, and goals. I distinguish between two modes of dependence of belief on desire in wishful thinking: selective or inquiry-related, and responsive or evidence-related. I offers a theory of basing on which beliefs are badly-based on desires, due to patterns of dependence that can found (...) in the relationship between experiences and desires as well. This conclusion brings us a large part of the way to the conclusion that like beliefs, experiences can be ill-founded by depending on a desire. (shrink)
An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
I distinguish between two kinds of selection effects on experience: selection of objects or features for experience, and anti-selection of experiences for cognitive uptake. I discuss the idea that both kinds of selection effects can lead to a form of confirmation bias at the level of perception, and argue that when this happens, selection effects can influence the rational role of experience.
Early formulations of disjunctivism about perception refused to give any positive account of the nature of hallucination, beyond the uncontroversial fact that they can in some sense seem to the same to the subject as veridical perceptions. Recently, some disjunctivists have attempt to account for hallucination in purely epistemic terms, by developing detailed account of what it is for a hallucinaton to be indiscriminable from a veridical perception. In this paper I argue that the prospects for purely epistemic treatments of (...) hallucinations are dim, and that this undermines the case for disjunctivism. (shrink)
This is a critical piece on *The Character of Consciousness* by David Chalmers. It focuses on Chalmers's two-stage view of perceptual content and the epistemology of perceptual belief that flows from this theory, and criticizes his theories of Edenic concepts, perceptual acquaintance, and perceptual belief.
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.
Perception provides a form of contact with the world and the other people in it. For example, we can learn that Franco is sitting in his chair by seeing Franco; we can learn that his hair is gray by seeing the colour of his hair. Such perception enables us to understand primitive forms of language, such as demonstrative expressions.
What do we see? We are visually conscious of colors and shapes, but are we also visually conscious of complex properties such as being John Malkovich? In this book, Susanna Siegel develops a framework for understanding the contents of visual experience, and argues that these contents involve all sorts of complex properties. Siegel starts by analyzing the notion of the contents of experience, and by arguing that theorists of all stripes should accept that experiences have contents. She then introduces a (...) method for discovering the contents of experience: the method of phenomenal contrast. This method relies only minimally on introspection, and allows rigorous support for claims about experience. She then applies the method to make the case that we are conscious of many kinds of properties, of all sorts of causal properties, and of many other complex properties. She goes on to use the method to help analyze difficult questions about our consciousness of objects and their role in the contents of experience, and to reconceptualize the distinction between perception and sensation. Siegel's results are important for many areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. They are also important for the psychology and cognitive neuroscience of vision. (shrink)
In The Problem of Perception, A.D. Smith’s central aim is to defend the view that we can directly perceive ordinary objects, such as cups, keys and the like.1 The book is organized around the two arguments that Smith considers to be serious threats to the possibility of direct perception: the argument from illusion, and the argument from hallucination. The argument from illusion threatens this possibility because it concludes that indirect realism is true. Indirect realism is the view that we perceive (...) mind-independent ordinary objects, but can only do so indirectly, by perceiving mind-dependent objects: objects whose existence depends on being perceived or thought about. The argument from hallucination draws a similar conclusion: if we perceive mindindependent ordinary objects at all, then our perception of them is indirect in the same way. In responding to these arguments, Smith develops an account of percep- tual consciousness. Perceptual consciousness is a kind of experience, distinct from what Smith calls ‘mere sensory experiences’, or equivalently, ‘mere sensation’. Perceptual consciousness is experience that is properly percep- tual, in which one has the phenomenology of perceiving things in the external world (including one’s body) that exist independently of one’s mind. Perceptual consciousness on its own does not suffice for actually being in perceptual contact with mind-independent reality, although it suffices for it to seem as if one i s . It follows that perceptual consciousness does not suffice for direct perception of ordinary objects, or for direct realism. Nevertheless, Smith holds that the correct account of perceptual consciousness is a crucial element in blocking the arguments from illusion and hallucination, and therefore in supporting the possibility of direct perception. This is an extraordinarily engaging book. Within a single, unified narrative, one encounters the views of many philosophers—Husserl, Fine, Broad, Sextus Empiricus, Loar, Schopenhauer, Meinong, Burge, Dilthey, Russell, Dennett, Sartre, O’Shaughnessy, Evans, Berkeley, Craig, Brentano and many.... (shrink)
Siegel defends "Limited Intentionism", a theory of what secures the semantic reference of uses of bare demonstratives ("this", "that" and their plurals). According to Limited Intentionism, demonstrative reference is fixed by perceptually anchored intentions on the part of the speaker.
This is a compilations of short talks presented at a workshop held at Harvard in April 14 on the life of analytic philosophy today in Spanish. Authors include Susanna Siegel, Diana Acosta and Patricia Marechal, Diana Perez, Laura Pérez, and Josefa Toribio.
It is often assumed that while beliefs redound on the rational standing of a subject, perceptions do not. An irrational belief detracts from the rationality of believers, according to this assumption, but perceptions cannot do the same. I argue that perceptual experiences can have a rational standing, and that their epistemic status can be modulated by other psychological states that help produce them. Drawing on a metaphor from electricity, I call the epistemic status that perceptual experiences can have ‘epistemic charge'.
Background: Today in vitro fertilisation is a widespread and important technique of reproductive medicine. When the technique was first used, it was considered ethically controversial. This is the first study conducted of adult IVF-offspring in order to learn about their ethical opinions and personal attitudes towards this medical technology.Methods: We recruited the participants from the first cases of in vitro fertilisation in Germany at the Gynaecological Clinic of the University Hospital Erlangen. Our qualitative interview study consisted of in-depth, face-to-face interviews (...) with 16 adults who had been conceived by IVF. Our data was analysed with methods of Grounded Theory.Results: For these adults, the most important factor influencing their personal attitudes towards IVF was the knowledge that they were deeply wanted children. The artificiality of their conception seemed irrelevant for their ethical opinion. All participants mentioned that it was important for them to be informed about the circumstances of their conception by their parents.Conclusions: IVF seems to be a medical technique which, although it affects intimate aspects of human existence, can be integrated into the lives of the affected persons without any great difficulties. The findings suggest that parents should inform their children about their fertilisation at an early age and as part of a process over time, not only on a single occasion. Physicians should advise IVF-parents accordingly. (shrink)
In discussions of perception and its provision of knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one's belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver would normally come to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Consider the content.
How can we discover the contents of experience? I argue that neither introspection alone nor naturalistic theories of experience content are sufficient to discover these contents. I propose another method of discovery: the method of phenomenal contrast. I defend the method against skeptics who doubt that the contents of experience can be discovered, and I explain how the method may be employed even if one denies that experiences have contents.