Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com
MindPapers is now part of PhilPapers: online research in philosophy, a new service with many more features.
 
 Compiled by David Chalmers (Editor) & David Bourget (Assistant Editor), Australian National University. Submit an entry.
 
   
click here for help on how to search

3.6. Perceptual Qualities (Perceptual Qualities on PhilPapers)

See also:
Byrne, Alex & Hilbert, David R. (eds.) (1997). Readings on Color: The Philosophy of Color Vol. I. The Mit Press.   (Google)

3.6a Sound

Nudds, Matthew (online). Auditory perception and sounds.   (Google)
Abstract: It is a commonly held view that auditory perception functions to tell us about sounds and their properties. In this paper I argue that this common view is mistaken and that auditory perception functions to tell us about the objects that are the sources of sounds. In doing so, I provide a general theory of auditory perception and use it to give an account of the content of auditory experience and of the nature of sounds
Cohen, Jonathan, Sounds and temporality.   (Google)
Abstract: What is the relationship between sounds and time? More specifically, is there something essentially or distinctively temporal about sounds that distinguishes them from, say, colors, shapes, odors, tastes, or other sensible qualities? And just what might this distinctive relation to time consist in? Apart from their independent interest, these issues have a number of important philosophical repercussions. First, if sounds are temporal in a way that other sensible qualities are not, then this would mean that standard lists of paradigm secondary qualities offered by Locke, Galileo, and other modern philosophers — lists which include colors, odors and sounds without any significant distinctions — overlook significant metaphysical differences. This, in turn, would threaten to undermine the coherence of the modern understanding of secondary qualities itself. Moreover, a number of authors have recently urged that the essential temporality of sounds makes it impossible to understand sounds as properties (except on a trope theory of properties; see note 3). If true, and given the more or less universal view that colors are properties, this last conclusion would make potentially inapplicable to sounds much of the comparatively well-developed philosophical taxonomy and apparatus that has arisen in philosophical disputes over the status of colors (for presentations of this taxonomy and apparatus see, for example, Byrne and Hilbert (2003); Cohen (2008b)).1 Therefore, the conclusion that sounds are distinctively temporal would be a serious blow to hopes for a theoretically unified treatment of the sensory qualities.2 For all these reasons, quite a lot seems to hang on the question of the temporality of sounds
Coval, Sam C. (1963). Persons and sounds. Philosophical Quarterly 13 (January):26-32.   (Google | More links)
Kulvicki, John (2008). The nature of noise. Philosophers' Imprint 8 (11):1-16.   (Google)
Abstract: There is a growing consensus in the philosophical literature that sounds differ rather profoundly from colors. Colors are qualities, while sounds are particulars of some sort or other, such as events or pressure waves. A key motivation for this is that sounds seem to be transient, to evolve over time, to begin and end, while colors seem like stable qualities of objects' surfaces. I argue that sounds are indeed, like colors, stable qualities of objects. Sounds are not transient, and they do not seem to be, even though they are typically perceived transiently. In particular, sounds are dispositions of objects to vibrate in response to being stimulated. This stable property view of sounds aligns nicely with, and owes an inspirational debt to, reflectance physicalist accounts of color. The upshot is a unified picture of colors, sounds, and the perception thereof
Locke, Don (1961). Strawson's auditory universe. Philosophical Review 70 (October):518-532.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Macpherson, Fiona (1999). Perfect pitch and the content of experience. Philosophy and Anthropology 3 (2).   (Google | More links)
Muldoon, Mark S. (1996). Silence revisited: Taking the sight out of auditory qualities. Review of Metaphysics 50 (2):275-298.   (Google)
Nudds, Matthew (2001). Experiencing the production of sounds. European Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):210-229.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Whether or not we would be happy to do without sounds, the idea that our expe- rience of sounds is of things which are distinct from the world of material objects can seem compelling. All you have to do to confirm it is close your eyes and reflect on the character of your auditory experience
Nudds, Matthew & O'Callaghan, Casey (eds.) (2010). Sounds and Perception: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
O'Callaghan, Casey (2009). Audition. In John Symons & Paco Calvo (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology.   (Google)
Abstract: Provides the theoretical and psychological framework to the philosophy of sounds and audition. I address auditory scene analysis, spatial hearing, the audible qualities, and cross-modal interactions.
O'Callaghan, Casey (2007). Echoes. The Monist 90 (3):403-414.   (Google)
Abstract: Echo experiences are illusory experiences of ordinary primary sounds. Just as there is no new object that we see at the surface of a mirror, there is no new sound that we hear at a reflecting surface. The sound that we hear as an echo just is the original primary sound, though its perception involves illusions of place, time, and qualities. The case of echoes need not force us to adopt a conception according to which sounds are persisting object-like particulars that travel through space.
O'Callaghan, Casey (2009). Introduction: The Philosophy of Sounds and Auditory Perception. In Matthew Nudds & Casey O'Callaghan (eds.), Sounds and Perception: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
O'Callaghan, Casey (ms). Pitch.   (Google)
Abstract: Some sounds have pitch, some do not. A tuba’s notes are lower pitched than a flute’s, but the fuzz from an untuned radio has no discernible pitch. Pitch is an attribute in virtue of which sounds that possess it can be ordered from “low” to “high”. Given how audition works, physics has taught us that frequency determines what pitch a sound auditorily appears to have
O'Callaghan, Casey (2010). Perceiving the locations of sounds. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Frequently, we learn of the locations of things and events in our environment by means of hearing. Hearing, I argue, is a locational mode of perceiving with a robustly spatial nature. I defend three proposals. First, audition furnishes information about the locations of things and events in one's environment because auditory experience itself is spatial. Audition represents space. Second, we hear the locations of things and events by or in hearing locational information about their sounds. Third, we auditorily experience sounds themselves as having relatively stable distal locations. I reject skepticism about spatial audition tracing to Strawson's Individuals, and suggest that spatial audition supports the view that audition and vision share a dimension of perceptual content
O'Callaghan, Casey (2009). Sounds. In Timothy J. Bayne, Axel Cleeremans & P. Wilken (eds.), Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Oup.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
O'Callaghan, Casey (2009). Sounds and events. In Matthew Nudds & Casey O'Callaghan (eds.), Sounds and Perception: New Philosophical Essays.   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that sounds are best conceived not as pressure waves that travel through a medium, nor as physical properties of the objects ordinarily thought to be the sources of sounds, but rather as events of a certain kind. Sounds are particular events in which a surrounding medium is disturbed or set into wavelike motion by the activities of a body or interacting bodies. This Event View of sounds provides for a uni- ?ed perceptual account of several pervasive sound phenomena, including transmission through barriers, constructive and destructive interference, and echoes
O'Callaghan, Casey (2007). Sounds: A Philosophical Theory. Oxford University Press.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: ... ISBN0199215928 ... Abstract: Vision dominates philosophical thinking about perception, and theorizing about experience in cognitive science traditionally has focused on a visual model. This book presents a systematic treatment of sounds and auditory experience. It demonstrates how thinking about audition and appreciating the relationships among multiple sense modalities enriches our understanding of perception. It articulates the central questions that comprise the philosophy of sound, and proposes a novel theory of sounds and their perception. Against the widely accepted philosophical view that sounds are among the secondary or sensible qualities, and against the scientific view that sounds are waves that propagate through a medium such as air or water, the book argues that sounds are events in which objects or interacting bodies disturb a surrounding medium. This does not imply that sounds propagate through a medium, such as air or water. Rather, sounds are events that take place in one's environment at or near their sources. This account captures the way in which sounds essentially are creatures of time and situates sounds in the world. Sounds are not ethereal, mysterious entities. It also provides a powerful account of echoes, interference, reverberation, Doppler effects, and perceptual constancies that surpasses the explanatory richness of alternative theories. Investigating sounds and audition demonstrates that considering other sense modalities teaches what we could not otherwise learn from thinking exclusively about the visual. This book concludes by arguing that a surprising class of cross-modal perceptual illusions demonstrates that the perceptual modalities cannot be completely understood in isolation, and that a visuocentric model for theorizing about perception — according to which perceptual modalities are discrete modes of experience and autonomous domains of philosophical and scientific inquiry — ought to be abandoned.
O'Callaghan, Casey (ms). The argument from vacuums.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A commonly shared assumption is that there are no sounds in vacuums. If the standard science-based view that sounds are waves that exist in and travel through a medium such as air or water is correct, then vacuums hold no sounds and the shared assumption is true. Recently, however, several philosophers (Pasnau 1999, 2000; Casati and Dokic 1994) have argued against the received view. These authors have claimed, primarily on perceptual grounds, that sounds are properties of their sources (Pasnau 1999) or events located at their sources. According to Pasnau (1999), sounds are either identical with or supervene upon the the vibrations of objects ordinarily thought to make or produce sounds. For Casati and Dokic (1994), sounds are events constituted by such vibrations. These views share the consequence that sounds can exist in vacuums; sounds occur when an object vibrates alone in the absence of a surrounding medium. I do not wish here to directly engage the debate over whether sounds are properties or events in the medium or in the sources. Instead, I wish to indirectly address it by urging that the question of whether there could be sounds in vacuums should be decided neither by simply consulting common sense nor by reading off the consequences of one’s favorite metaphysical theory of sounds. I argue that even independent of explicit theoretical commitments concerning the nature of
O'Callaghan, Casey (ms). The locations of sounds.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: When you hear the sound of a car drive by on the street outside your window, you learn not only whether the car has a hole in its muffler or has squealing brakes. You also learn something about the location of the car because hearing furnishes information about the locations of its objects. By listening, you learn not only about the character of the things and happenings around you, but also about where they are in the surrounding environment. The question I wish to address is this: Do we hear the locations of sounds themselves, or do we merely hear the locations of sound sources—the objects and events that produce sounds? I shall argue that frequently we do hear the locations of sounds themselves, and that this is required in order to hear and learn the locations of sound-producing sources. This feature of auditory experience has consequences for the metaphysics of sounds. If we veridically hear the locations of sounds, then the most prominent conception of sounds is mistaken and we must revise our ontology
O'Callaghan, Casey (2009). The world of sound. The Philosophers' Magazine.   (Google)
O'Shaughnessy, Brian (1957). The location of sound. Mind 66 (October):471-490.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Pasnau, Robert (2000). Sensible qualities: The case of sound. Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (1):27-40.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Pasnau, Robert (1999). What is sound? Philosophical Quarterly 50 (196):309-24.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Phillips, Ian (forthcoming). Hallucinating silence. In Dimitri Platchias & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Hallucination. MIT Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Audrey … lives in a noisy environment and so has never experienced silence. Audrey … wants to experience silence and so constructs a soundproof chamber. When she enters the chamber, Audrey learns something: what it is like to hear silence. … Audrey is introspecting an absence of auditory sensations while perceiving an absence of sound … an auditory gap that originates through healthy hearing of an external state of silence. (271)
Rosenberg, Jay F. (1978). On Strawson: Sounds, skepticism, and necessity. Philosophia 8 (November):405-419.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Sorensen, Roy A. (2009). Hearing silence: The perception and introspection of absences. In Matthew Nudds & Casey O'Callaghan (eds.), Sounds and Perception. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: in Sounds and Perception: New Philosophical Essays, ed. by Matthew Nudds and Casey O’Callaghan (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2008)
Strawson, P. F. (1959). Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. Routledge.   (Google)

3.6b Primary and Secondary Qualities

Allen, Keith (2008). Mechanism, resemblance and secondary qualities: From Descartes to Locke. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (2):273 – 291.   (Google)
Armstrong, David M. (1987). Smart and the secondary qualities. In Philip Pettit, Richard Sylvan & J. Norman (eds.), Metaphysics And Morality. Blackwell.   (Cited by 26 | Google)
Averill, Edward W. (1982). The primary-secondary quality distinction. Philosophical Review 91 (July):343-362.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Beck, Lewis White (1946). Secondary quality. Journal of Philosophy 43 (October):599-609.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Bennett, Jonathan (1965). Substance, reality, and primary qualities. American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (January):1-17.   (Cited by 19 | Google)
Blackburn, Simon W. (1993). Circles, finks, smells and biconditionals. Philosophical Perspectives 7:259-279.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Brittan Jr, Gordon G. (1969). Measurability, commonsensibility, and primary qualities. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47 (1):15 – 24.   (Google | More links)
Brooks, D. H. M. (1992). Secondary qualities and representation. Analysis 52 (3):174-179.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Charlesworth, Maurice (1987). Hacker on secondary qualities. Mind 76 (July):386-391.   (Google | More links)
Cummins, Phillip D. (1963). Perceptual relativity and ideas in the mind. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 24 (December):202-214.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Dicker, Georges (1977). Primary and secondary qualities: A proposed modification of the Lockean account. Southern Journal of Philosophy 15:457-471.   (Google)
Egan, Andy (2006). Secondary qualities and self-location. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (1):97-119.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Colors aren't as real as shapes. Shapes are full?fledged qualities of things in themselves, independent of how they're perceived and by whom. Colors aren't. Colors are merely qualities of things as they are for us, and the colors of things depend on who is perceiving them. When we take the fully objective view of the world, things keep their shapes, but the colors fall away, revealed as the mere artifacts of our own subjective, parochial perspective on the world that they are
Fischer, Eugen (2009). Philosophical pictures and secondary qualities. Synthese 171 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: The paper presents a novel account of nature and genesis of some philosophical problems, which vindicates a new approach to an arguably central and extensive class of such problems: The paper develops the Wittgensteinian notion of ‘philosophical pictures’ with the help of some notions adapted from metaphor research in cognitive linguistics and from work on unintentional analogical reasoning in cognitive psychology. The paper shows that adherence to such pictures systematically leads to the formulation of unwarranted claims, ill-motivated problems, and pointless theories. To do so, the paper proceeds from a case-study on a lastingly influential development in early modern philosophy: the adoption of the doctrine of secondary qualities, and its principal consequences. The findings motivate a new approach to an arguably extensive and important class of philosophical problems: to the problems we raise in the grip of philosophical pictures
Frohlich, Fanchon (1959). Primary qualities in physical explanation. Mind 68 (April):209-217.   (Google | More links)
Gibson, James J. (1969). Are there sensory qualities of objects? Synthese 19 (April):408-409.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Holman, Emmett (2006). Dualism and secondary quality eliminativism. Philosophical Studies 128:229--56.   (Google)
Abstract: Frank Jackson formulated his knowledge argument as an argument for dualism. In this paper I show how the argument can be modified to also establish the irreducibility of the secondary qualities to the properties of physical theory, and ultimately "secondary quality eliminativism"- the view that the secondary qualities are physically uninstantiated.
Kneale, William C. (1951). Sensation and the physical world. Philosophical Quarterly 1 (January):109-126.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Kulvicki, John (2005). Perceptual content, information, and the primary/secondary quality distinction. Philosophical Studies 122 (2):103-131.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Our perceptual systems make information about the world available to our cognitive faculties. We come to think about the colors and shapes of objects because we are built somehow to register the instantiation of these properties around us. Just how we register the presence of properties and come to think about them is one of the central problems with understanding perceptual cognition. Another problem in the philosophy of perception concerns the nature of the properties whose presence we register. Among the perceptible properties are colors and shapes, for example, and there is a long philosophical tradition of drawing and refusing to draw metaphysical distinctions between them. This paper makes a claim about the information-theoretic approach to perceptual cognition in order to argue for a fundamentally epistemological distinction between colors and shapes. What makes shapes and colors seem so different to us is how we carry information about their presence around us. In particular, we can come to know more about the shapes on the basis of perceiving them than we can come to know about the colors. One interesting feature of how this distinction is drawn is that it partially vindicates Locke’s claim that our ideas of primary qualities like shapes resemble them in ways our ideas of colors do not
Levin, Janet (1987). Physicalism and the subjectivity of secondary qualities. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (December):400-411.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Lewis, Douglas (1970). Some problems of perceptions. Philosophy of Science 37 (March):100-113.   (Google | More links)
Lovejoy, Arthur O. (1913). Secondary qualities and subjectivity. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (8):214-218.   (Google | More links)
Matthen, Mohan (2010). Color Experience: A Semantic Theory. In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press.   (Google)
Abstract: What is the relationship between color experience and color? Here, I defend the view that it is semantic: color experience denotes color in a code innately known by the perceiver. This semantic theory contrasts with a variety of theories according to which color is defined as the cause of color experience (in a special set of circumstances). It also contrasts with primary quality theories of color, which treat color as a physical quantity. I argue that the semantic theory better accounts for the kinds of knowledge we have regarding both the color of objects that we see and of the colors themselves.
McGinn, Colin (1983). The Subjective View: Secondary Qualities And Indexical Thoughts. Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 100 | Google)
Abstract: This book investigates the subjective and objective representations of the world, developing analogies between secondary qualities and indexical thoughts and arguing that subjective representations are ineliminable. Throughout, McGinn brings together historical and contemporary discussions to illuminate old problems in a novel way
McKitrick, Jennifer (2002). Reid's foundation for the primary/secondary quality distinction. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):478-494.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
McNaughton, David (1984). McGinn on experience of primary and secondary qualities. Analysis 44 (2):78-80.   (Google)
Millar, Roderick (1983). Valberg's secondary qualities. Philosophy 58 (January):107-109.   (Google)
Miscevic, Nenad (2001). Painting the manifest picture. Acta Analytica 16 (26):75-96.   (Google)
Miscevic, Nenad (1997). Secondary and tertiary qualities: Semantics and response--dependence. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (4):363-379.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Secondary and tertiary qualities are plausibly explained along dispositionalist lines. Concepts of such qualities are response-dependent, denoting properties that are partly mind/brain-dependent. Unfortunately, dispositionalism is hard to square with extant versions of naturalistic theories of representation. In particular the standard naturalistic (indicational) semantics of representational content cannot handle the question from either the subjectivist or the dispositional viewpoint. The paper proposes a remedy: the problem can be solved in a smooth and natural way, provided that we revise and supplement the standard semantics in a rather obvious fashion, by allowing the mind/brain-involving properties to figure within it
Moked, Gabriel (1988). Particles And Ideas: Bishop Berkeley's Corpuscularian Philosophy. Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: Demonstrating that in George Berkeley's last major work, Siris, Berkeley had converted to a belief in the usefulness of the concept and existence of minute particles, Moked here posits that Berkeley developed a highly original brand of corpuscularian physics
Nadler, Steven M. (1990). Berkeley's ideas and the primary/secondary distinction. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20 (1):47-61.   (Google)
Narski, Igor (1974). The question of the objective content of sensations. Ajatus 36:44-74.   (Google)
Novitz, David (1975). Primary and secondary qualities: A return to fundamentals. Philosophical Papers 4 (October):89-104.   (Google)
Olding, A. (1968). Armstrong, Smart and the ontological status of secondary qualities. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 46 (1):52 – 64.   (Google)
O'Shaughnessy, Brian (1986). Secondary qualities. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 67 (July):153-171.   (Google)
Pettit, P. (1991). Realism and response-dependence. Mind 100 (4):587-626.   (Cited by 56 | Google | More links)
Railton, Peter A. (1998). Red, bitter, good. In European Review of Philosophy, Volume 3: Response-Dependence. Stanford: CSLI Publications.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Rickless, Samuel C. (1997). Locke on primary and secondary qualities. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (3):297-319.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that Book II, Chapter viii of Locke' Essay is a unified, self-consistent whole, and that the appearance of inconsistency is due largely to anachronistic misreadings and misunderstandings. The key to the distinction between primary and secondary qualities is that the former are, while the latter are not, real properties, i.e., properties that exist in bodies independently of being perceived. Once the distinction is properly understood, it becomes clear that Locke's arguments for it are simple, valid and (in one case) persuasive as well
Sandoe, Peter (1988). Secondary qualities--subjective and intrinsic. Theoria 54:200-219.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Smith, A. D. (1990). Of primary and secondary qualities. Philosophical Review 99 (2):221-254.   (Cited by 13 | Google | More links)
Tully, R. E. (1976). Reduction and secondary qualities. Mind 85 (July):351-370.   (Google | More links)
Valberg, E. (1980). A theory of secondary qualities. Philosophy 55 (October):437-453.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Vision, Gerald (1982). Primary and secondary qualities: An essay in epistemology. Erkenntnis 17 (March):135-170.   (Google | More links)
Abstract:   It seems almost a truism to say that colour is a sensation; and yet Young, by honestly recognizing this elementary truth, established the first consistent theory of colour. So far as I know, Thomas Young was the first who, starting from the well-known fact that there are three primary colours, sought for the explanation of this fact, not in the nature of light, but in the constitution of man. (James Clerk Maxwell, p. 267.)It is doubtless scientific to disregard certain aspects when we work; but to urge that therefore such aspects are not fact, and that what we use without them is an independent real thing-this is barbarous metaphysics. (F. H. Bradley, p. 15.)
Williams, C. J. F. (1969). Are primary qualities qualities? Philosophical Quarterly 19 (October):310-323.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Wright, C. (1988). Moral values, projection, and secondary qualities. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 63:1-26.   (Cited by 44 | Google)

3.6c Perceptual Qualities, Misc

Blatti, Stephan (2006). No Impediment to Solidity as Impediment. Metaphysica 7 (1):35-41.   (Google)
Abstract: ABSTRACT: Quassim Cassam (1997) accepts the standard account of solidity, according to which, if S feels x as solid, then S feels x as an imediment to his movement. Recently, Martin Fricke and Paul Snowdon (2003) have presented a battery of counter-examples designed to show that S may feel x as solid and as exerting a pressure that supports or facilitates his movement. In this note, I defend the standard account against Fricke and Snowdon’s attack. Integral to this defense is a distinction between two (sometimes overlapping) ways in which S may feel x as an impediment to his movement: as an influence on a movement state of S, or as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement. After demonstrating the primacy of the former sense, I argue that Fricke and Snowdon’s counter-examples only undermine a version of the standard account that glosses ‘impediment’ as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement.
Bradley McGilvary, Evander (1933). Perceptual and memory perspectives. Journal of Philosophy 30 (12):309-330.   (Google | More links)
Broughton, Lynne M. (1981). Quine's 'quality space'. Dialectica 35:291-302.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Churchland, Patricia S. (1976). How Quine perceives perceptual similarity. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (June):251-255.   (Google)
Clement, W. C. (1956). Quality orders. Mind 65 (April):184-199.   (Google | More links)
Egan, Andy (2006). Appearance properties? Noûs 40 (3):495-521.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is wholly determined by its representational content is very attractive. Unfortunately, it is in conflict with some quite robust intuitions about the possibility of phenomenal spectrum inversion without misrepresentation. Faced with such a problem, there are the usual three options: reject intentionalism, discount the intuitions and deny that spectrum inversion without misrepresentation is possible, or find a way to reconcile the two by dissolving the apparent conflict. Sydney Shoemaker's (1994) introduction of appearance properties is a particularly ingenious way of pursuing the third strategy, by maintaining that there is a representational difference between the phenomenally spectrum-inverted subjects.2 In introducing appearance properties, Shoemaker does two things: he identifies a theoretical role for some family of properties to play, and he suggests a family of properties as candidates to play that role. I'll argue that his proposed candidates do not play the role as well as we would like, suggest some new candidates, and argue that they do a better job
Goldman, Alan H. (1975). Criteriological arguments in perception. Mind 84 (January):102-105.   (Google | More links)
Hacker, P. M. S. (1991). Appearance and Reality: A Philosophical Investigation Into Perception and Perceptual Qualities. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 34 | Google)
Jackson, Frank (1973). Do material things have non-physical properties? Personalist 54:105-110.   (Google)
O'Callaghan, Casey (ms). Pitch.   (Google)
Abstract: Some sounds have pitch, some do not. A tuba’s notes are lower pitched than a flute’s, but the fuzz from an untuned radio has no discernible pitch. Pitch is an attribute in virtue of which sounds that possess it can be ordered from “low” to “high”. Given how audition works, physics has taught us that frequency determines what pitch a sound auditorily appears to have
O'Callaghan, Casey (ms). The argument from vacuums.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A commonly shared assumption is that there are no sounds in vacuums. If the standard science-based view that sounds are waves that exist in and travel through a medium such as air or water is correct, then vacuums hold no sounds and the shared assumption is true. Recently, however, several philosophers (Pasnau 1999, 2000; Casati and Dokic 1994) have argued against the received view. These authors have claimed, primarily on perceptual grounds, that sounds are properties of their sources (Pasnau 1999) or events located at their sources. According to Pasnau (1999), sounds are either identical with or supervene upon the the vibrations of objects ordinarily thought to make or produce sounds. For Casati and Dokic (1994), sounds are events constituted by such vibrations. These views share the consequence that sounds can exist in vacuums; sounds occur when an object vibrates alone in the absence of a surrounding medium. I do not wish here to directly engage the debate over whether sounds are properties or events in the medium or in the sources. Instead, I wish to indirectly address it by urging that the question of whether there could be sounds in vacuums should be decided neither by simply consulting common sense nor by reading off the consequences of one’s favorite metaphysical theory of sounds. I argue that even independent of explicit theoretical commitments concerning the nature of
Pluhar, Evelyn Begley (1987). The perceptual and physical worlds. Philosophical Studies 31:228-240.   (Google)

3.6d Discriminability

Burgess, John A. (1990). Phenomenal qualities and the nontransitivity of matching. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 68 (2):206-220.   (Google | More links)
Chuard, Philippe (2007). Indiscriminable shades and demonstrative concepts. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):277 – 306.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Conceptualists have it that the representational content of perceptual experience is determined by the concepts a subject applies in having such an experience. Conceptualists like Bill Brewer [1999] and John McDowell [1994] have laid particular emphasis on demonstrative concepts in trying to account for the fact that subjects can perceive and discriminate very many specific shades of colour in experience. Against this, it has been objected that such demonstrative concepts have incoherent conditions of extension and/or of individuation, due to the fact that chromatic indiscriminability is non-transitive. In this paper, I consider three different versions of this objection and show why each fails
Chuard, Philippe & Corry, Richard (ms). Looks non-transitive!   (Google)
Abstract: Suppose you are presented with three red objects. You are then asked to take a careful look at each possible pair of objects, and to decide whether or not their members look chromatically the same. You carry out the instructions thoroughly, and the following propositions sum up the results of your empirical investigation:
i. red object #1 looks the same in colour as red object #2.
ii. red object #2 looks the same in colour as red object #3
Chuard, Philippe (2010). Non-transitive looks & fallibilism. Philosophical Studies 149 (2).   (Google)
Abstract: Fallibilists about looks deny that the relation of looking the same as is non-transitive. Regarding familiar examples of coloured patches suggesting that such a relation is non-transitive, they argue that, in fact, indiscriminable adjacent patches may well look different, despite their perceptual indiscriminability: it’s just that we cannot notice the relevant differences in the chromatic appearances of such patches. In this paper, I present an argument that fallibilism about looks requires commitment to an empirically false consequence. To succeed in deflecting putative cases of non-transitivity, fallibilists would have to claim that there can’t be any perceptual limitations of any kind on human chromatic discrimination. But there are good reasons to think such limitations exist
Clark, Austen (1992). Sensory Qualities. Clarendon.   (Cited by 177 | Annotation | Google)
Abstract: Drawing on work in psychophysics, psychometrics, and sensory neurophysiology, Clark analyzes the character and defends the integrity of psychophysical explanations of qualitative facts, arguing that the structure of such explanations is sound and potentially successful
Cohen, Ariel (2008). Indiscriminability as indiscernibility by default. Studia Logica 90 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: Most solutions to the sorites reject its major premise, i.e. the quantified conditional . This rejection appears to imply a discrimination between two elements that are supposed to be indiscriminable. Thus, the puzzle of the sorites involves in a fundamental way the notion of indiscriminability. This paper analyzes this relation and formalizes it, in a way that makes the rejection of the major premise more palatable. The intuitive idea is that we consider two elements indiscriminable by default, i.e. unless we know some information that discriminates between them. Specifically, following Rough Set Theory, two elements are defined to be indiscernible if they agree on the vague property in question. Then, a is defined to be indiscriminable from b if a is indiscernible by default from b . That is to say, a is indiscriminable from b if it is consistent to assume that a and b agree on the relevant vague property
Danto, Arthur C. (1999). Indiscernibility and perception: A reply to Joseph Margolis. British Journal of Aesthetics 39 (4):321-329.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
De Clercq, Rafael & Horsten, Leon (2004). Perceptual indiscriminability: In defence of Wright's proof. Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):439-444.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Deutsch, Max (2005). Intentionalism and intransitivity. Synthese 144 (1):1-22.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: I argue in this paper that the existence of sorites series of color patches – series of color patches arranged so that the patches on each end look different in color though no two adjacent patches do – shows that the relation of same phenomenal charac­ter as is not a transitive relation. I then argue that the intransitivity of same phenomenal character as conflicts with certain versions of intentionalism, the view that an experiences phenomenal character is exhausted, or fully determined by its intentional content. Lastly, I consider various objections to the arguments and reply to them
Drai, Dalia (2007). The phenomenal sorites and response dependence. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (4):619 – 631.   (Google)
Abstract: Since Nelson Goodman 1951, the assumption that phenomenal indiscriminability is non-transitive is taken generally for granted. Moreover, this assumption was used (by Goodman 1951, Travis 1985, Dummett 1975 and others) to argue against the existence or coherence of subjective and/or observational properties. Recently, however, the assumption has been questioned [Fara 2001] and I agree with Fara that the assumption is much more problematic than was thought, partly because it is not clear what is meant by the relation of phenomenal indiscriminability, and partly because it is not clear how to interpret ideas such as continuous change, and the limitations of our power of perceptual discrimination. In this paper I will bypass the question of the transitivity of phenomenal indiscriminability. I will use only the assumption about the existence (or even the possibility of existence) of a phenomenal sorites. This assumption is less controversial, and accepted (at least the version I will use) by opponents and defenders of transitivity alike. I will argue that the incoherence of 'red' (as response-dependent or purely observational) can be derived without committing ourselves to a view on the question of transitivity, and I will use this incoherence, to argue against the account of 'red' as a response-dependent concept
Farkas, Katalin (2006). Indiscriminability and the sameness of appearance. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2):39-59.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Abstract: How exactly should the relation between a veridical perception and a corresponding hallucination be understood? I argue that the epistemic notion of ‘indiscriminability’, understood as lacking evidence for the distinctness of things, is not suitable for defining this relation. Instead, we should say that a hallucination and a veridical perception involve the same phenomenal properties. This has further consequences for attempts to give necessary and sufficient conditions for the identity of phenomenal properties in terms of indiscriminability, and for considerations about the phenomenal sorites.
Goldberg, Sanford C. (2006). Brown on self-knowledge and discriminability. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (3):301�314.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. Perhaps the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such
Graff, Delia (2001). Phenomenal continua and the sorites. Mind 110 (440):905-935.   (Cited by 24 | Google | More links)
Abstract: I argue that, contrary to widespread philosophical opinion, phenomenal indiscriminability is transitive. For if it were not transitive, we would be precluded from accepting the truisms that if two things look the same then the way they look is the same and that if two things look the same then if one looks red, so does the other. Nevertheless, it has seemed obvious to many philosophers (e.g. Goodman, Armstrong and Dummett) that phenomenal indiscriminability is not transitive; and, moreover, that this non-transitivity is straightforwardly revealed to us in experience. I show this thought to be wrong. All inferences from the character of our experience to the non-transitivity of indiscriminability involve either a misunderstanding of continuity, a mistaken interpretation of the idea that we have limited powers of discrimination, or tendentious claims about what our experience is really like; or such inferences are based on inadequately supported premisses, which though individually plausible are jointly implausible
Haddock, Adrian & Macpherson, Fiona (eds.) (2008). Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Google | More links)
Hanson, Norwood Russell (1960). On having the same visual experiences. Mind 69 (July):340-350.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Hellie, Benj (2010). An externalist's guide to inner experience. In Bence Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Let's be externalists about perceptual consciousness and think the form of veridical perceptual consciousness includes /seeing this or that mind-independent particular and its colors/. Let's also take internalism seriously, granting that spectral inversion and hallucination can be "phenomenally" the same as normal seeing. Then perceptual consciousness and phenomenality are different, and so we need to say how they are related. It's complicated!

Phenomenal sameness is (against all odds) /reflective indiscriminability/. I build a "displaced perception" account of reflection on which indiscriminability stems from shared "qualia". Qualia are compatible with direct realism: while they generate an explanatory gap (and colors do not), so does /seeing/; qualia are excluded from perceptual consciousness by its "transparency"; instead, qualia are aspects of thought about the perceived environment.

The asymmetry between my treatments of color and seeing is grounded in the asymmetry between ignorance and error: while inversion shows that normal subjects are ignorant of the natures of the colors, hallucination shows not that perceivers are ignorant of the nature of seeing but that hallucinators are prone to error about their condition. Past literature has treated inversion and hallucination as on a par: externalists see error in both cases, while internalists see mutual ignorance. My account is so complicated because plausible results require mixing it up.
Hellie, Benj (2005). Noise and perceptual indiscriminability. Mind 114 (455):481-508.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Perception represents colors inexactly. This inexactness results from phenomenally manifest noise, and results in apparent violations of the transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability. Whether these violations are genuine depends on what is meant by 'transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability'.
Jackson, Frank & Pinkerton, R. J. (1973). On an argument against sensory items. Mind 82 (326):269-72.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Lewis, Carroll (1973). On undetectable differences in sensations. Analysis 33 (June):193-194.   (Google)
Linsky, Bernard (1984). Phenomenal qualities and the identity of indistinguishables. Synthese 59 (June):363-380.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Haddock, Adrian & Macpherson, Fiona (2008). Introduction: Varieties of disjunctivism. In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Inspired by the writings of J. M. Hinton (1967a, 1967b, 1973), but ushered into the mainstream by Paul Snowdon (1980–1, 1990–1), John McDowell (1982, 1986), and M. G. F. Martin (2002, 2004, 2006), disjunctivism is currently discussed, advocated, and opposed in the philosophy of perception, the theory of knowledge, the theory of practical reason, and the philosophy of action. But what is disjunctivism?
Martin, Michael G. F. (2004). The limits of self-awareness. Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):37-89.   (Cited by 25 | Google | More links)
Mills, Eugene O. (2002). Fallibility and the phenomenal sorites. Noûs 36 (3):384-407.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Pelling, Charlie (2007). Conceptualism and the (supposed) non-transitivity of colour indiscriminability. Philosophical Studies 134 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that those who accept the conceptualist view in the philosophy of perception should reject the traditional view that colour indiscriminability is non-transitive. I start by outlining the general strategy that conceptualists have adopted in response to the familiar ‘fineness of grain’ objection, and I show why a commitment to what I call the indiscriminability claim seems to form a natural part of this strategy. I then show how together, the indiscriminability claim and the non-transitivity claim –the claim that colour indiscriminability is non-transitive –entail a further, suspicious-looking claim that I call the problematic claim. My argument then splits into two parts. In the first part, I show why the conceptualist does indeed need to reject the problematic claim. Given that this claim is jointly entailed by the indiscriminability claim and the non-transitivity claim, the conceptualist is then left with a straight choice: reject the indiscriminability claim, or reject the non-transitivity claim. In the second part, I then explain why the conceptualist should choose the latter option
Pelling, Charlie (forthcoming). Characterizing hallucination epistemically. Synthese.   (Google)
Abstract: According to the epistemic theory of hallucination, the fundamental psychological nature of a hallucinatory experience is constituted by its being ‘introspectively indiscriminable’, in some sense, from a veridical experience of a corresponding type. How is the notion of introspective indiscriminability to which the epistemic theory appeals best construed? Following M. G. F. Martin, the standard assumption is that the notion should be construed in terms of negative epistemics: in particular, it is assumed that the notion should be explained in terms of the impossibility that a hallucinator might possess a certain type of knowledge on a certain basis. I argue that the standard assumption is mistaken. I argue that the relevant notion of introspective indiscriminability is better construed in terms of positive epistemics: in particular, I argue that the notion is better explained by reference to the fact that it would be rational for a hallucinator positively to make a certain type of judgement, were that judgement made on a certain basis
Pelling, Charles (2008). Exactness, inexactness, and the non-transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability. Synthese 164 (2).   (Google)
Abstract:  I defend, to a certain extent, the traditional view that perceptual indiscriminability is non-transitive. The argument proceeds by considering important recent work by Benj Hellie: Hellie argues that colour perception represents ‘inexactly’, and that this results in violations of the transitivity of colour indiscriminability. I show that Hellie’s argument remains inconclusive, since he does not demonstrate conclusively that colour perception really does represent inexactly. My own argument for the non-transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability uses inexactness instead as one horn of a dilemma: the key idea is that there is a class of perceptual experiences which might plausibly be supposed either to represent inexactly or to represent exactly—but which demonstrate the non-transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability either way
Perin, Casey (2005). Academic arguments for the indiscernibility thesis. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (4):493-517.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The Academics offered an argument from twins or perceptually indiscernible objects and an argument from dreams or madness in support of the indiscernibility thesis: that every true perceptual impression is such that some false impression just like it is possible. I claim that these arguments, unlike modern sceptical arguments, are supposed to establish mere counterfactual rather than epistemic possibilities. They purport to show that for any true perceptual impression j, there are a number of alternative causal histories j might have had which would not have resulted in any change in the way in which j represents its object
Phillips, Ian (ms). Indiscriminability and experience of change.   (Google)
Quine, W. V. (1976). Grades of discriminability. Journal of Philosophy 73 (5):113-116.   (Google | More links)
Raffman, Diana (2000). Is perceptual indiscriminability nontransitive? Philosophical Topics 28 (1):153-75.   (Google)
Abstract: It is widely supposed that one family of sorites paradoxes, perhaps the most perplexing versions of the puzzle, owe at least in part to the nontransitivity of perceptual indiscriminability. To a first approximation, perceptual indiscriminability is the relationship obtaining among objects (stimuli) that appear identical in some perceptual respect—for example hue, or pitch, or texture. Indiscriminable objects look the same, or sound the same, or feel the same. Received wisdom has it that there are or could be series of objects _o_1…_o_n in which _o_1 and _o_2 are indiscriminable, _o_2 and _o_3 are indiscriminable, etc., and _o_n-1 and_ o_n are indiscriminable, but _o_1 and _o_n are discriminably different. For example, there could be a series of colored patches so ordered that each patch looks the same in hue as its immediate neighbors but the whole progresses from a clear case of red to a clear case of orange. On the assumption that an observational word like ‘red’ applies to both if to either of a pair of perceptually indiscriminable items, the absurd conclusion of the sorites comes into view. Crispin Wright explains
Raffman, Diana (ms). Nontransitivity, Indiscriminability, and Looking the Same.   (Google)
Raffman, Diana (forthcoming). Vagueness and observationality. In Giuseppina Ronzitti (ed.), Vagueness: A Guide. Springer.   (Google)
Abstract: Of the many families of words that are thought to be vague, so-called observational predicates may be both the most fascinating and the most confounding. Roughly, observational predicates are terms that apply to objects on the basis of how those objects appear to us perceptually speaking. ‘Red’, ‘loud’, ‘sweet’, ‘acrid’, and ‘smooth’ are good examples. Delia Graff explains that a “predicate is observational just in case its applicability to an object (given a fixed context of evaluation) depends only on the way that object appears” (2001, 3). By the same token observational predicates are, as Crispin Wright observes, terms “whose senses are taught entirely by ostension” (1976). Like other vague predicates, observational words appear to generate sorites paradoxes. Consider for example a series of 20 colored patches progressing from a clearly red one to a clearly orange one, so ordered that each patch is just noticeably different in hue from the one before. The following argument then seems forced upon us: (1) Patch #1 is red. (2) Any patch that differs only slightly in hue from a red patch is itself red. (3) Therefore patch #20 is red. Premise (2) expresses what Wright has called the tolerance of ‘red’: the application of the predicate tolerates small changes in a decisive parameter (here, hue). Of course, most vague predicates, hence most versions of the sorites, are not observational. For instance, given a series of..
Shoemaker, Sydney (1975). Phenomenal similarity. Critica 7 (October):3-37.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google)
Siegel, Susanna (2004). Indiscriminability and the phenomenal. Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):91-112.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Siegel, Susanna (2008). The Epistemic Conception of Hallucination. In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action and Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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
Smith, A. D. (2008). Disjunctivism and discriminability. In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Van Quine, Wilard (1976). Grades of discriminability. Journal of Philosophy 73:113--6.   (Google)
Williamson, Timothy (1990). Identity and Discrimination. Blackwell.   (Cited by 44 | Google)