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.
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.
There is an important division in the human mind between perception and reasoning. We reason from information that we have already, but perception is a means of taking in new information. SusannaSiegel argues that these two aspects of the mind become deeply intertwined when beliefs, fears, desires, or prejudice influence what we perceive.
I discuss the roles of journalism in aspirational democracies, and argue that they generate set of pressures on attention that apply to people by virtue of the type of society they live in. These pressures, I argue, generate a problem of democratic attention: for journalism to play its roles in democracy, the attentional demands must be met, but there are numerous obstacles to meeting them. I propose a principle of salience to guide the selection and framing of news stories that (...) I argue may help address the puzzle: the public-as-protagonist principle. -/- . (shrink)
Includes a summary of my book *The Rationality of Perception* (Oxford, 2017) and replies to commentaries on it by Endre Begby, Harmen Ghijsen, and Katia Samoilova. These commentaries and my summary and replies will be published soon in Analysis Reviews. Begby focuses on my analysis of the epistemic features of the interface between individual minds and their cultural milieu (discussed in chapter 10 of *The Rationality of Perception*), Ghijsen focuses on the notion of inference and reliabilism (chapters 5 and 6), (...) and Samoilova focuses on the relationship between epistemic charge (chapter 3) and shifts in the amount of justification needed for knowledge. (shrink)
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)
I argue that inference can tolerate forms of self-ignorance and that these cases of inference undermine canonical models of inference on which inferrers have to appreciate (or purport to appreciate) the support provided by the premises for the conclusion. I propose an alternative model of inference that belongs to a family of rational responses in which the subject cannot pinpoint exactly what she is responding to or why, where this kind of self-ignorance does nothing to undermine the intelligence of the (...) response. (shrink)
Can perceptual experiences be states of uncertainty? We might expect them to be, if the perceptual processes from which they're generated, as well as the behaviors they help produce, take account of probabilistic information. Yet it has long been presumed that perceptual experiences purport to tell us about our environment, without hedging or qualifying. Against this long-standing view, I argue that perceptual experiences may well occasionally be states of uncertainty, but that they are never probabilistically structured. I criticize a powerful (...) line of reasoning that we should expect perceptual experience to be probabilistic, given their interfaces with unconscious probabilistic information, with behavior responsive to it, and with credences. (shrink)
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)
My contribution to the first round of a tetralog with Bill Brewer, Anil Gupta, and John McDowell. Each of us has written a response to the writings of the other three philosophers on the topic "Empirical Reason". My initial contribution focuses on what we know a priori about perception. In the second round, we will each respond to the each writer's first-round contributions.
I argue that there are phenomenological constraints on what it is to see an object, and that these are overlooked by some theories that offer allegedly sufficient causal and counterfactual conditions on object-seeing.
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.
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.
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.
This paper explores two kinds of selection effects on perception by the subject’s own psychological states, such as desires, fears, or beliefs. Such states can influence the selection of objects for perceptual experience, or they can influence the selection of perceptual experience for uptake in the process of belief-formation. It is argued that both kinds of selection effects are rationally assessable, even when the subject is not aware of their influence on the selection.
Since disjunctivists when talking about perception deny that hallucinations and veridical perceptions have a common fundamental nature, they need some other way to account for the fact that these kinds of experiences can ‘seem the same’ from the inside. A natural response is to give a purely epistemic account of hallucination, according to which there is nothing more to hallucinations than their indiscriminability from veridical perceptions. This chapter argues that the epistemic conception of hallucination falters in its treatment of cognitively (...) unsophisticated creatures, and that it cannot respect all the facts about what we can know on the basis of introspection. (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.
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)
I’m grateful to Endre Begby, Harmen Ghijsen, and Katia Samoilova for engaging with The Rationality of Perception and for writing such interesting and productive commentaries. Taken together, the three commentaries cover a diverse range of topics.
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.