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Abstract: I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and..
Abstract: Our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts and memories have objects. They are about or of things and properties around us. I perceive her, have beliefs about her, think of her and have memories of her. How are we to construe this aboutness (or ofness) of our cognitive states?' There are four major choices on the philosophical market. There is an interaction approach which says that the object of cognition is fixed by and understood in terms of what cognizers physically and sensorily interact with - or, alternatively, in terms of what the information delivered by such interaction is about. There is the satisfactional approach which says that the object of a cognitive state is whatever satisfies the representation constitutive of that state. There is also a hybrid approach which requires both physical/sensory interaction and representational satisfaction in the fixation of the object of cognition. And there is, finally, the direct acquaintance approach which says that only an immediate cognitive contact with things and properties can establish them as objects of cognition. The latter, as far as I can tell, goes the way perception goes, so only the remaining three approaches look like serious contenders
Abstract: Physical objects are such things as stones, tables, trees, people and other animals: the persisting macroscopic constituents of the world we live in. (1) 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
Abstract: The field of machine perception is based on standard informational and computational approaches to perception. But naturalistic informational theories are widely regarded as being inadequate, while purely syntactic computational approaches give no account of perceptual content. Thus there is a significant need for a novel, purely naturalistic perceptual theory not based on informational or computational concepts, which could provide a new paradigm for mechanistic perception. Now specifically evolutionary naturalistic approaches to perception have been—perhaps surprisingly—almost completely neglected for this purpose. Arguably perceptual mechanisms enhance evolutionary fitness by facilitating sensorily mediated causal interactions between an organism Z and items X in its environment. A ‘reflexive’ theory of perception of this kind is outlined, according to which an organism Z perceives an item X just in case X causes a sensory organ zi of Z to cause Z to acquire a disposition toward the very same item X that caused the perception. The rest of the paper shows how an intuitively plausible account of mechanistic perception can be developed and defended in terms of the reflexive theory. Also, a compatibilist option is provided for those who wish to preserve a distinct informational concept of perception
Abstract: Of all the problems attending the sense-datum theory, arguably the deepest is that it draws a veil of appearances over the external world. Today, the sense-datum theory is widely regarded as an overreaction to the problem of hallucination. Instead of accounting for hallucination in terms of intentional relations to sense data, it is often thought that we should account for it in terms of intentional relations to properties. In this paper, however, I argue that in the versions that might address the problem of hallucination, this newer account is guilty of a vice similar to sense-datum theory’s: it draws a veil of abtracta over the concrete world.
Abstract: This paper is about perception and its objects. My aim is to suggest a new way to articulate some of the central ideas of direct realism. Sections 1 and 2 offer from different perspectives a panoramic view of the main problems and options in the philosophy of perception. Section 3 introduces the notion of
Abstract: Husserl and Sartre’s analyses of mental imagery and some of the latest cognitive research on vision provide a framework for understanding a number of films by Hitchcock (Psycho and Rear Window) and Buñuel (Un Chien Andalou), films which similarly probe the subtleties and uses of mental imagery. One of the many ways to enjoy these films is to see them as explorations of visual phenomenology; they allow us to enact, as well as reflect upon, mental images as part of the film experience.
Abstract: Contextualist solutions to skeptical puzzles have recently been subjected to various criticisms. In this paper, I will defend contextualism against an objection prominently pressed by Stanley 2000. According to Stanley, contextualism in epistemology advances an empirically implausible hypothesis about the semantics of knowledge ascriptions in natural language. It is empirically implausible because it attributes to knowledge ascriptions a kind of semantic context-sensitivity that is wholly unlike any well- established type of semantic context-sensitivity in natural language
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.
Abstract: 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
Abstract: I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perceptual experience are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. Since a hallucinating subject is not related to any such objects or property-instances, the concepts she employs remain unsaturated. I argue that the phenomenology of hallucinations and perceptions can be identified with employing concepts and analogous nonconceptual structures. By doing so, I defend a minimalist view of the phenomenology of experience that (1) satisfies the Aristotelian principle according to which the existence of any type depends on its tokens and (2) amounts to a naturalized view of the phenomenology of experience.
Abstract: The fundamental philosophical interest in perception is to answer the question of how perception can give us knowledge of the world. One of the challenges in answering this question is that perception is necessarily tied to a particular time and place. One necessarily perceives from a particular location and at a particular time. As a consequence, what is immediately perceptually available is subject to situational features, such as one’s point of view and the lighting conditions. But although objects are always perceived subject to situational features, one can perceive the shape and color of objects.<sup>1</sup> One can perceive the shape of objects although only the facing surfaces are visible and one can perceive two objects to be the same size although one is nearer than the other. Similarly, one can perceive the uniform color of a surface although parts of it are illuminated more brightly than others<sup>2</sup> and one can recognize the sound of a cello regardless of whether it is played on a street or in a concert hall. More generally, one can perceive the properties objects have regardless of the situational features, although one always perceives them subject to situational features