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Abstract: The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, spatial and temporal properties, but does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of an object as a tomato encoded in the phenomenology of perception? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say “no”, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenology say “yes”. This paper clarifies the debate between conservatives and liberals, and provides a case in favour of the liberal position: high-level content can inform perceptual phenomenology
Abstract: Where in cognitive architecture do experiences of agency lie? This chapter defends the claim that such states qualify as a species of perception. Reference to ‘the sense of agency’ should not be taken as a mere façon de parler but picks out a genuinely perceptual system. The chapter begins by outlining the perceptual model of agentive experience before turning to its two main rivals: the doxastic model, according to which agentive experience is really a species of belief, and the telic model, according to which agentive experience is really a species of agency. I conclude by defending the perceptual model against a number of objections to it, and by briefly exploring its implications for the question of how to approach the study of perception
Abstract: One important issue in the philosophy of perception is the question of which features of objects are perceivable.1 Perhaps the only fairly uncontroversial claim in this debate is that we can perceive the traditional examples of what have been called ‘secondary qualities’ — such as colours, smells, or tastes.2 But even among those who accept that we are also able to perceive certain basic ‘primary qualities’ — notably shapes, distances, sizes, weights, and so on — there is disagreement about whether our access to more higher-level properties can likewise be perceptual. Thus, it is debated, for instance, whether we can see the sadness or intelligence of a friend, the kindness of an action, the elegance of a gait, the climbability of a wall, the fragility of a glass, the quality of a proof or of a move in chess, the content of a painting, or even simpler properties like being a bottle or being a cat. Some of our recognitions of such higher-level features have three things in common. First, they are immediate in the sense of being phenomenologically (or psychologically) immediate. We need not engage in a conscious inference or another form of reasoning in order to notice that someone is sad or that a certain chess move is bad. Second, our awareness of the higher-level features involves or is grounded in the — typically perceptual — recognition of relevant lower-level features which contribute to the realisation3 of the higher-level features in question. We notice that a friend is sad partly on the basis of perceiving the tone of his voice or the shape of his gestures. And we notice that a chess move is bad partly in response to perceiving the specific situation on the board. Third, we have an intelligible and reasonable practice of backing up our ascriptions of the higher-level features by highlighting the respective lower-level properties. When someone challenges our judgement that our friend is sad, or the move bad, we support our assessments by referring to the lower-level features just mentioned..
Abstract: According to a classical causal account of perception, to perceive that object x is F is to fulfill the following conditions: (i) one has an experience as of x's being F, (ii) x is F, and (iii) one's experience of x's being F depends causally on x's being F. This is the core of Grice's causal theory of perception, and it is initially quite plausible (Grice 1961)
Abstract: Perceptual states represent the world as being certain ways, as having certain properties. Which ways and properties are these? When I hold out my hand and look at it, it seems that I have a visual experience of a hand. One traditional view has held that my perceptual state is not of a hand but merely of an array of color patches, or the like, which disposes me to believe that there
Abstract: Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments to account for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position
Abstract: Some propose that the question of how you know that James is angry can be adequately answered with the claim that you see that James is angry. Call this the Perceptual Hypothesis. Here, I examine that hypothesis.
I argue that there are two different ways in which the Perceptual Hypothesis could be made true. You might see that James is angry by seeing his bodily features. Alternatively, you might see that James is angry by seeing his anger. If you see that James is angry in the first way, your knowledge is inferential. If you see that James is angry in the second way, your knowledge is not inferential. These are different ways of knowing that James is angry. So the Perceptual Hypothesis alone does not adequately answer the question of how you know that fact. To ascertain how you know it, we need to decide whether or not you saw his anger.
This is an epistemological argument. But it has consequences for a theory of perception. It implies that there is a determinate fact about which features of an object you see. This fact is made true independently of what you come to know by seeing.
In the final section of the paper, I seek to undermine various ways in which the claim that you see James’ anger may be thought implausible.
Abstract: I develop a seeming antinomy in relation to the question, Do natural kind properties, strictly speaking, characterize the phenomenology of experience? Or, in Peacockean terms, Are natural kind concepts observational? On the one hand, na
Abstract: There seems to be a large gulf between percepts and concepts. In particular, con- cepts seem to be capable of representing things that percepts cannot. We can conceive of things that would be impossible to perceive. (The converse may also seem true, but I will leave that to one side.) In one respect, this is trivially right. We can conceive of things that we cannot encounter, such as unicorns. We cannot literally perceive unicorns, even if we occasionally
Abstract: 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
Abstract: What is the difference between perception and mere sensation? Take a typical perceptual experience, such as an experience of seeing a fish or a table, and a merely sensory experience, such as the experience of ‘seeing stars’ or of enjoying a red phosphene (a phosphene is a kind of afterimage). One difference between these experiences is that in the first case, there is an external object that one sees. But this difference is not the only difference. On the face of it, typical perceptual experiences and mere sensations also differ in their phenomenal character. How can this difference be understood?
Abstract: How is causation represented in the mind? We often believe that one event has caused another. But can we visually experience two things as causally related? If so, then experiences represent causation. A different question in the vicinity is whether we can ever see that something is causing (or has just caused) something else to happen. In the relevant sense of ‘seeing’ here, seeing is factive – you can see that p only if p. By contrast, experiential representation of properties or relations is not factive, so you can represent that p even if p is not true
Abstract: This paper explores some issues having to do with the perception of causation. It discusses the role that phenomena that that are associated with causal perception, such as Michottean launching interactions, play within philosophical accounts of causation and also speculates on their possible role in development