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 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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
We offer a framework for assessing what the structure of episodic memory might be, if one accepts the Buddhist denial of persisting selves. This paper is a response to Jonardon Ganeri's paper "Mental time travel and attention", which explores Buddhaghosa's ideas about memory. (It will eventually be published with a reply by Ganeri).
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.
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.
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.
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.