Mental capacities for perceiving, remembering, thinking, and planning involve the processing of structured mental representations. A compositional semantics of such representations would explain how the content of any given representation is determined by the contents of its constituents and their mode of combination. While many have argued that semantic theories of mental representations would have broad value for understanding the mind, there have been few attempts to develop such theories in a systematic and empirically constrained way. This paper contributes to (...) that end by developing a semantics for a ‘fragment’ of our mental representational system: the visual system’s representations of the bounding contours of objects. At least three distinct kinds of composition are involved in such representations: ‘concatenation’, ‘feature composition’, and ‘contour composition’. I sketch the constraints on and semantics of each of these. This account has three principal payoﬀs. First, it models a working framework for compositionally ascribing structure and content to perceptual representations, while highlighting core kinds of evidence that bear on such ascriptions. Second, it shows how a compositional semantics of perception can be compatible with holistic, or Gestalt, phenomena, which are often taken to show that the whole percept is ‘other than the sum of its parts’. Finally, the account illuminates the format of a key type of perceptual representation, bringing out the ways in which contour representations exhibit domain-speciﬁc form of the sort that is typical of structured icons such as diagrams and maps, in contrast to typical discursive representations of logic and language. (shrink)
A central objection to McDowell’s conceptualism about empirical content concerns the fine-grained phenomenology of experience, which supposedly entails that the actual content of experience cannot be matched in its particularity by our concepts. While McDowell himself has answered this objection in recourse to the possibility of demonstrative concepts, his reply has engendered a plethora of further objections and is widely considered inadequate. I believe that McDowell’s critics underestimate the true force of his reply because they tend to read unrecognized empiricist (...) presuppositions into his account of experience. To show this, I introduce a new hylomorphic reading of McDowell’s account of experience and argue that the objections to his reply all rest on a specific empiricist assumption, which is untenable because it conflates the form of experience with its content. Consequently, conceptualism so understood can resist all of these objections, as I attempt to show by systematizing and answering them. (shrink)
Recently, Charles Goldhaber (2019) has argued that Tyler Burge’s (2005, 2010, 2011) arguments against disjunctivism in the philosophy of perception fail when juxtaposed with the literature in perceptual psychology. In addition, Goldhaber traces Burge’s motives for dismissing disjunctivism: his underlying theoretical assumptions vis-à-vis human rationality virtually force him to maintain that there is a genuine inconsistency between disjunctivism and perceptual psychology. While Goldhaber aims to defend epistemological disjunctivism à la John McDowell, my concern will be the other target of Burge’s (...) attack, namely John Campbell’s (2002a, 2002b, 2011a) relationism. I will reexamine the Burge/Campbell debate concerning the role of perceptual psychology in theorizing about the nature of perception and the status of perceptual beliefs so that I can support Goldhaber’s stance that Burge’s plan to put the kibosh on disjunctivism backfires in the end. Finally, by using the challenge of cognitive penetrability, I show how Burge’s argumentation strategy can be turned against him. (shrink)
The fact that you see some particular object seems to be due to the causal relation between your visual experience and that object, rather than to your experiences’ phenomenal character. On the one hand, whenever some phenomenal element of your experience stands in the right sort of causal relation to some object, your experience presents that object (your experience’s phenomenology doesn’t need to match that object). On the other hand, you can’t have a perceptual experience that presents some object unless (...) you stand in the right sort of causal relation to that object (no matter how closely your experience’s phenomenology matches some object). According to the continuity thesis, property perception is similar to object perception in these two respects. A standard reason to reject the continuity thesis is the assumption that the environmental properties that a perceptual experience presents are determined by its phenomenal properties (which are not determined by the environmental properties that cause the experience). I maintain that the continuity thesis is false but for a different reason: perceptual experiences present both objects and properties via manners of presentation; but, whereas perceptual manners of presentation for objects are purely relational, perceptual manners of presentation for properties are satisfactional. (shrink)
According to capacitism, to perceive is to employ personal-level, perceptual capacities. In a series of publications, Schellenberg (2016, 2018, 2019b, 2020) has argued that capacitism offers unified analyses of perceptual particularity, perceptual content, perceptual consciousness, perceptual evidence, and perceptual knowledge. “Capacities first” (2020: 715); appealing accounts of an impressive array of perceptual and epistemological phenomena will follow. We argue that, given the Schellenbergian way of individuating perceptual capacities which underpins the above analyses, perceiving an object does not require employing a (...) perceptual capacity which picks it out. Although each eye, used on its own, can suffice for perceiving objects in one’s environment, binocular vision allows one to see the same object(s) via both eyes, taking advantage of informational disparities registered by each eye. Yet in certain conditions it is possible to simultaneously see one object via the left eye and a distinct object via the right eye (at least when the inputs are sufficiently similar to prevent the onset of binocular rivalry). We argue that capacitism has trouble making sense of this. After surveying responses, we conclude that not all of the above phenomena can be unified under the capacitist framework. We then present a more nuanced, disjunctivist account of how capacities are individuated. While it may be illuminating to think of perceiving as the employment of perceptual capacities, this picture does not best favour a ‘common factor’ theory of perceptual content in the way existing presentations have envisaged. (shrink)
Perceptual representations pick out individuals and attribute properties to them. This paper considers the role of perceptual attribution in determining or guiding perceptual reference to objects. We consider three extant models of the relation between perceptual attribution and perceptual reference–all attribution guides reference, no attribution guides reference, or a privileged subset of attributions guides reference–and argue that empirical evidence undermines all three. We then defend a flexible-attributives model, on which the range of perceptual attributives used to guide reference shifts adaptively (...) with context. This model underscores the remarkable and dynamic intelligence of our perceptual capacities. We elucidate implications of the model for the boundary between perception and propositional thought. (shrink)
Perception of a property (e.g. a colour, a shape, a size) can enable thought about the property, while at the same time misleading the subject as to what the property is like. This long-overlooked claim parallels a more familiar observation concerning perception-based thought about objects, namely that perception can enable a subject to think about an object while at the same time misleading her as to what the object is like. I defend the overlooked claim, and then use it to (...) generate a challenge for a standard way of thinking about the relationship between visual experience and rational belief formation. Put informally, that view holds that just as we can mislead others by saying something false, illusory experience misleads by misrepresenting how things stand in the world. I argue that we ought to abandon this view in favour of some radical alternative account of the relationship between visual experience and rational belief formation. (shrink)
Starting with Gareth Evans, there’s an important tradition of theorizing about perception-based demonstrative thought which assigns necessary epistemic conditions to it. Its core idea is that demonstrative reference in thought is grounded in information links, understood as links which carry reliable information about their targets and which a subject exploits for demonstrative reference by tokening the mental files fed by these links. Perception, on these views, is not fundamental to perception-based demonstrative thought but is only the information link exploited in (...) these cases. Evans himself assigns a further epistemic condition, while more recently Imogen Dickie has expanded the reliability requirement into a more complex account centered around justification. In this paper I synthesize three central proponents of this approach and show that the epistemic conditions they place on perception-based demonstrative thought are not actually required. My argument gives two examples in which there is perceptual contact with an object but this perceptual contact fails to do the epistemic work in question. The first case is stimulus-incorporating dream experiences, the second involves multimodal binding failures. I argue that this perceptual contact still affords demonstrative thought in these cases. (shrink)
Attention plays a role in demonstrative thought: It sets the targets. Visual experience also plays a role. I argue here that it makes visual information available for use in the voluntary control of focal attention. To do so I use both introspection and neurophysiological evidence from projections between areas of attentional control and neural correlates of consciousness. Campbell and Smithies also identify roles for experience, but they further argue that only experience can play those roles. In contrast, I argue that (...) experience is not the only way in which visual information could be accessed for the voluntary control of attention. (shrink)
Cognitive scientists have long known that the modalities interact during perceptual processing. Cross-modal illusions like the ventriloquism effect show that the course of processing in one modality can alter the course of processing in another. But how do the modalities interact in the specific domain of object perception? This paper distinguishes and analyzes two kinds of multisensory interaction in object perception. First, the modalities may bind features to a single object or event. Second, the modalities may cooperate when differentiating an (...) object or event from its surroundings. I critically evaluate evidence for various forms of multisensory binding. I then consider the case for multisensory differentiation. I argue that existing evidence for multisensory differentiation is inconclusive. I highlight ways that the issue might be empirically resolved. (shrink)
Objects are central in visual, auditory, and tactual perception. But what counts as a perceptual object? I address this question via a structural unity schema, which specifies how a collection of parts must be arranged to compose an object for perception. On the theory I propose, perceptual objects are composed of parts that participate in causally sustained regularities. I argue that this theory falls out of a compelling account of the function of object perception, and illustrate its applications to multisensory (...) perception. I also argue that the account avoids problems faced by standard views of visual and auditory objects. (shrink)
The topic of this paper is the question of in virtue of what first-person thoughts are about what they are about. I focus on a dilemma arising from this question. On the one hand, approaches to answering this question that promise to be satisfying seem doomed to be inconsistent with the seeming truism that first-person thought is always about the thinker of the thought. But on the other hand, ensuring consistency with that truism seems doomed to make any answer to (...) the question unsatisfying. Contrary to a careful and enticing recent effort to both sharpen and escape this dilemma by Daniel Morgan, I will argue that the dilemma remains pressing both for broadly epistemic and broadly causal-acquaintance-based accounts of the aboutness of first-person thought. (shrink)
This paper defends a version of the old empiricist claim that to think about unobservable physical properties a subject must be able to think perception-based thoughts about observable properties. The central argument builds upon foundations laid down by G. E. M. Anscombe and P. F. Strawson. It bridges the gap separating these foundations and the target claim by exploiting a neglected connection between thought about properties and our grasp of causation. This way of bridging the gap promises to introduce substantive (...) constraints on right accounts of perception and perception-based thought. (shrink)
The most prominent theories of perceptual content are incapable of accounting for the phenomenal particularity of perceptual experience. This difficulty, or so I argue, springs from the absence of a series of distinctions that end up turning the problem apparently unsolvable. After briefly examining the main shortcomings of representationalism and naïve realism, I advance a proposal of my own that aims to make the trivial fact of perceptually experiencing a particular object as such philosophically unproblematic. Though I am well aware (...) of the sketchy and schematic way in which my proposal is advanced and the other alternatives are criticized, I hope this paper is still worth its ink at least insofar as it is capable of pointing to a novel and promising way out of old and resilient difficulties that have been haunting philosophers of perception. If not a fully developed theory, at least I deliver here a sketch that, or so I sell, is worth the bet. (shrink)
The focus of this paper will be on singular thoughts. In the first section I will present Jeshion’s cognitivism; a view that holds that one should characterize singular thoughts by their cognitive roles. In the second section I will argue that, contrary to Jeshion’s claims, results from studies of object tracking in cognitive psychology do not support cognitivism. In the third section I will discuss Jeshion’s easy transmission of singular thought and argue that it ignores a relevant distinction between general (...) and specific understanding of names. Finally, the last section will argue that conscious attention should replace Jeshion’s significance condition as a necessary condition for one to have a singular thought. The paper will show that we need to take seriously the acquaintance requirement for singular thoughts, as even the easy transmission of singular thoughts with the use of names will be called into question. (shrink)
Pautz has argued that the most prominent naive realist account of hallucination—negative epistemic disjunctivism—cannot explain how hallucinations enable us to form beliefs about perceptually presented properties. He takes this as grounds to reject both negative epistemic disjunctivism and naive realism. Our aims are two: First, to show that this objection is dialectically ineffective against naive realism, and second, to draw morals from the failure of this objection for the dispute over the nature of perceptual experience at large.
Evidence from cognitive science supports the claim that humans and other animals see the world as divided into objects. Although this claim is widely accepted, it remains unclear whether the mechanisms of visual reference have representational content or are directly instantiated in the functional architecture. I put forward a version of the former approach that construes object files as icons for objects. This view is consistent with the evidence that motivates the architectural account, can respond to the key arguments against (...) representational accounts, and has explanatory advantages. I draw general lessons for the philosophy of perception and the naturalization of intentionality. (shrink)
Many have held that when a person visually attends to an object, her visual system deploys a representation that designates the object. Call the referential link between such representations and the objects they designate attentive visual reference. In this article I offer an account of attentive visual reference. I argue that the object representations deployed in visual attention—which I call attentive visual object representations —refer directly, and are akin to indexicals. Then I turn to the issue of how the reference (...) of an AVOR is determined relative to a context. After raising problems for existing accounts, I propose a mechanism of reference determination that is both causal and descriptive: For an AVOR to refer to a particular object, the object must appropriately cause the deployment of the AVOR, and the AVOR must be associated with descriptive information about some of the object's geometrical and mereological properties. (shrink)
In seeing a tilted penny, we are experientially aware of both its circularity and another shape, which I dub ‘β-ellipticality’. Some claim that our experiential awareness of the intrinsic shapes/sizes of everyday objects depends upon our experiential awareness of β-shapes/β-sizes. In contrast, I maintain that β-property experiences are the result of what Richard Wollheim calls ‘seeing-in’, but run in reverse: instead of seeing a three-dimensional object in a flat surface, we see a flat surface in a three-dimensional object. Using this (...) new account, I re-examine the phenomenological directness of visual experience and undermine an argument for skepticism about β-property experiences. (shrink)
Both Russell and Donnellan proposed direct, non-descriptive cognitive relations between thinkers and objects. They agreed that such relations couldn’t be initiated in evidence cases, but Donnellan, unlike Russell, thought direct cognitive relations could be transmitted from person to person. Kaplan (2012) suggests the issues of initiation and transmission are separable—allowing one to deny that evidence yields direct cognition while believing direct cognition is transmittable. Here, cases involving transmission, evidence, ordinary perception, and perception aided by technology are considered. It is concluded (...) that the same mechanism is at work in each case, and that the initiation issue cannot be separated from the transmission issue since transmission cases are evidence cases. Finally, it is argued that this doesn’t threaten the directness of the cognitive relations involved. (shrink)
Research in vision science, developmental psychology, and the foundations of cognitive science has led some theorists to posit referential mechanisms similar to indices. This hypothesis has been framed within a Fodorian conception of the early vision module. The article shows that this conception is mistaken, for it cannot handle the ‘interface problem’—roughly, how indexing mechanisms relate to higher cognition and conceptual thought. As a result, I reject the inaccessibility of early vision to higher cognition and make some constructive remarks on (...) the perception–cognition interface. -/- 1 The Case for Visual Indices 1.1 Preliminary assumptions 1.2 Transcendental arguments 1.3 Evidence from vision science 2 Visual Indices, Object Files, and Fodorian Modularity 3 The Interface Problem 3.1 Top-down attention and modularity 3.2 Selective attention and information 4 Revising the Indexing Hypothesis 4.1 Revising the perception–cognition interface 4.2 Revising the modularity of early vision 5 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
Object files are mental representations that enable perceptual systems to keep track of objects as numerically the same. How is their reference fixed? A prominent approach, championed by Zenon Pylyshyn and John Campbell, makes room for a non-satisfactional use of properties to fix reference. This maneuver has enabled them to reconcile a singularist view of reference with the intuition that properties must play a role in reference fixing. This paper examines Campbell’s influential defense of this strategy. After criticizing it, a (...) new approach is sketched. The alternative view introduces representational contents to explain perceptual individuation. After arguing that those contents are not satisfactional, it is concluded that there is room for a third view of reference fixing that does not fit into the singularist/descriptivist dichotomy. (shrink)
[ https://plus.google.com/108060242686103906748/posts/cwvdB6mK3J6 ] The phenomenal description on own thoughts regard me to describe Coleridge, along with William Wordsworth, was instrumental in initiating a poetic revolution in the early nineteenth century which is known as the Romantic Movement. Coleridge invokes the Divine Spirit that blows upon the wild Harp of Time. Time is like the stringed musical instrument on which the Spirit produces sweet harmonious melodies. Coleridge is perhaps best known for his haunting ballad Rime of Ancient Mariner, the dream-like Kubla (...) Khan and the unfinished Christabel, but he wrote several other smaller poems, quite remarkable for their imaginative power. (Edited with own analysis)…[http://philpapers.org/profile/112741] http://www.academia.edu/18834746/LITERATURE_I_DO-_THE_ROMANTICS_AND_SUBJECTIVITY_SAMUEL_TAYLOR_COLER IDGE. (shrink)
In his account of visual perception, Thomas Reid describes visible figure as both ‘real and external’ to the eye and as the ‘immediate object of sight’. These claims appear to conflict with Reid's direct realism, since if the ‘immediate’ object of vision is also its direct object, then sight would be perceptually indirect due to the role of visible figure as a perceptual intermediary. I argue that this apparent threat to Reid's direct realism may be resolved by understanding visible figure (...) as the set of geometrical properties that holds between an object's visible surfaces and some particular perspective or point of view. On this relational interpretation of visible figure, and once an ambiguity over the use of the term ‘object’ is resolved, Reid's account of vision is both epistemically and perceptually direct, as well as consistent with his account of the other senses and doctrine of signs. (shrink)
John McDowell (in Mind and World) and Bill Brewer (in Perception and Reason) argue that the content of our perceptual experience is conceptual in the following sense. It is of the type of content that could be the content of a judgement – that is, a content which results from the actualization of two (or more) conceptual abilities. Specifically, they suggest that the conceptual abilities actualized in experience are demonstrative abilities, and thus the resulting content is of the type we (...) may express by means of sentences of the form ‘this is thus’. In this paper I argue that we cannot construe experiential contents in this way. I first outline a construal of the ability to think about a thing being thus which is based on Brewer's discussion of conceptual experiential contents, and which I take to be the best construal available to the conceptualist. I then show that on this construal the demonstrative abilities that account for our experience of properties require intentional focused attention to the relevant properties. The conceptualist is thus committed to holding that we experience only the properties we are intentionally attending to, and I argue that this is implausible. The interest in examining Brewer's conceptualist construal of experiential content and pointing out its shortcoming is not limited merely to an interest in whether there is a workable conceptualist account of experiential content. I suggest that certain aspects of Brewer's construal capture important (and often neglected) aspects of our perceptual experience, and that understanding why the account fails can contribute to our understanding of both experiential content and demonstrative thought. (shrink)
When I act on something, three kinds of idea (or representation) come into play. First, I have a non-visual representation of my goals. Second, I have a visual description of the kind of thing that I must act upon in order to satisfy my goals. Finally, I have an egocentric position locator that enables my body to interact with the object. It is argued here that these ideas are distinct. It is also argued that the egocentric position locator functions in (...) the same way as a demonstrative, and that the involvement of such demonstratives in visual content negates naive realism. (This is a nearly final draft of a paper that is to be published in Raftopoulos and Machamer (eds), Perception, Realism, and the Problem of Reference (forthcoming from Cambridge UP. It is a shorter revised version of "Visual Reference", posted earlier.). (shrink)
Like their contemporary counterparts, early modern philosophers find themselves in a predicament. On one hand, there are strong reasons to deny that sensations are representations. For there seems to be nothing in the world for them to represent. On the other hand, some sensory representations seem to be required for us to experience bodies. How else could one perceive the boundaries of a body, except by means of different shadings of color? I argue that Nicolas Malebranche offers an extreme -- (...) and ultimately unworkable -- attempt to solve this riddle. Most commentators claim that Malebranche defends an adverbial theory of sensation, according to which a sensation is merely a way in which an act of sensing happens. The adverbial reading is wrong, or so I argue. Once we arrive at a more accurate reading, we shall see that his position is much more strange than is currently thought. Nevertheless, Malebranche’s view is similar to the adverbial theory in one respect, albeit it at a very high level of generality. His view thus inherits two of the main problems that afflict adverbial theories. Although Malebranche fails to solve them, his ingenious attempts to do so are instructive. (shrink)
This brief note corrects some basic errors in Meijsing's JCS paper on 'The Whereabouts of Pictorial Space', concerning the status of phenomenal objects in the reflexive model of perception. In particular I clarify the precise sense in which a phenomenal object relates to the object itself in visual perception.
In order to demonstratively refer to an object, we must perceive it. That much is clear on the philosophy of perception and language; but how does perception explain the intentionality of thought? Philosophical tradition has internalized and over- intellectualized the relations we have with the material objects we perceive and think about, making the task of naturalizing the semantic relation of reference much more difficult than it already is. Drawing on current research in contemporary vision science, Carvalho argues that what (...) explains the fundamental point of contact between mind and world is a form of nonconceptual access to objects described only in terms of natural principles that guide the workings of our perceptual systems. This will form the basis of a new way of looking at modes of presentation, neither as entities that compose the contents of our thoughts, nor as ways of thinking of objects, but merely as natural sensory mechanisms, through which we can explain the perceptual determination of demonstrative reference. (shrink)
I shall propose five theses on de re states and attitudes. To be a de re state or attitude is to bear a peculiarly direct epistemic and representational relation to a particular referent in perception or thought. I will not dress this bare statement here. The fifth thesis tries to be less coarse. The first four explicate and restrict context- bound, singular, empirical representation, which constitutes a significant and central type of de re state or attitude.
This paper is about the Descriptivism/Singularism debate, which has loomed large in 20-century philosophy of language and mind. My aim is to defend Singularism by showing, first, that it is a better and more promising view than even the most sophisticated versions of Descriptivism, and second, that the recent objections to Singularism (based on a dismissal of the acquaintance constraint on singular thought) miss their target.
I argue that perception is necessarily situation-dependent. The way an object is must not just be distinguished from the way it appears and the way it is represented, but also from the way it is presented given the situational features. First, I argue that the way an object is presented is best understood in terms of external, mind-independent, but situation-dependent properties of objects. Situation-dependent properties are exclusively sensitive to and ontologically dependent on the intrinsic properties of objects, such as their (...) shape, size, and color, and the situational features, such as the lighting conditions and the perceiver’s location in relation to the perceived object. Second, I argue that perceiving intrinsic properties is epistemically dependent on representing situation-dependent properties. Recognizing situation-dependent properties yields four advantages. It makes it possible to embrace the motivations that lead to phenomenalism and indirect realism by recognizing that objects are presented a certain way, while holding on to the intuition that subjects directly perceive objects. Second, it acknowledges that perceptions are not just individuated by the objects they are of, but by the ways those objects are presented given the situational features. Third, it allows for a way to accommodate the fact that there is a wide range of viewing conditions or situational features that can count as normal. Finally, it makes it possible to distinguish perception and thought about the same object with regard to what is represented. (shrink)
Der in der zeitgenössischen Philosophie vorherrschende Empirismus hinsichtlich des Erwerbs von Farbbegriffen besagt: S erwirbt den Farbbegriff F nur dann, wenn S phänomenale Erlebnisse gemacht hat, die von einem Gegenstand, der die durch den Farbbegriff F bezeichnete Farbe aufweist, auf geeignete Weise kausal verursacht sind. Der Empirismus hinsichtlich des Erwerbs von Farbbegriffen geht Hand in Hand mit dem Empirismus hinsichtlich der Speicherung von Farbbegriffen: S hat zum Zeitpunkt t2 den zum Zeitpunkt t1 erworbenen Farbbegriff F nur dann gespeichert, wenn S (...) zum Zeitpunkt t2 persönliche Erinnerungen an das phänomenale Erlebnis haben kann, welches von einem Gegenstand, der die durch den Farbbegriff F bezeichnete Farbe aufweist, zum Zeitpunkt t1 auf geeignete Weise kausal verursacht wurde. Gegen den Empirismus hinsichtlich des Erwerbs von Farbbegriffen wird ins Feld geführt, daß man einen Farbbegriff erwerben kann, auch ohne die bezeichnete Farbe gesehen zu haben. Der Besitz des Begriffes rot erfordert kein Wissen hinsichtlich der phänomenalen Qualität eines Roteindrucks. Gegen den Empirismus hinsichtlich der Speicherung von Farbbegriffen wird gezeigt, daß visuelle Erinnerungen an die phänomenalen Qualitäten von Farbeindrücken keine notwendige Bedingung für die Speicherung von Farbbegriffen darstellen. (shrink)
We assemble here in this time and place to discuss the thesis that conscious attention can provide knowledge of reference of perceptual demonstratives. I shall focus my commentary on what this claim means, and on the main argument for it found in the first five chapters of "Reference and Consciousness". The middle term of that argument is an account of what attention does: what its job or function is. There is much that is admirable in this account, and I am (...) confident that it will be the foundation, the launching-pad, for much future work on the subject. But in the end I will argue that Campbell's picture makes the mechanisms of attention too smart: smarter than they are, smarter than they could be. If we come to a more realistic appraisal of the skills and capacities of our sub-personal minions, the "knowledge of reference" which they yield will have to be taken down a notch or two. (shrink)
John Campbell argues that visual attention to objects is the means by which we can refer to objects, and that this is so because conscious visual attention enables us to retrieve information about a location. It is argued here that while Campbell is right to think that we visually attend to objects, he does not give us sufficient ground for thinking that consciousness is involved, and is wrong to assign an intermediary role to location. Campbell’s view on sortals is also (...) queried, as is his espousal of the so-called Referential View of Experience. (shrink)
The paper argues that the reference of perceptual demonstratives is fixed in a causal nondescriptive way through the nonconceptual content of perception. That content consists first in spatiotemporal information establishing the existence of a separate persistent object retrieved from a visual scene by the perceptual object segmentation processes that open an object-file for that object. Nonconceptual content also consists in other transducable information, that is, information that is retrieved directly in a bottom-up way from the scene (motion, shape, etc). The (...) nonconceptual content of the mental states induced when one uses a perceptual demonstrative constitutes the mode of presentation of the perceptual demonstrative that individuates but does not identify the object of perceptual awareness and allows reference to it. On that account, perceptual demonstratives put us in a de re relationship with objects in the world through the non-conceptual information retrieved directly from the objects in the environment. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the self-referential component which Searle rightly detects in the truth-conditions of perceptual judgments comes from the perceptual ‘mode' and is not an aspect of the ‘content' of the judgment, contrary to Searle's claim.
I am very much in sympathy with the overall approach of John Campbell’s paper, “Reference as Attention”. My sympathy extends to a variety of its features. I think he is right to suppose, for instance, that neuropsychological cases provide important clues about how we should treat some traditional philosophical problems concerning perception and reference. I also think he is right to suppose that there are subtle but important relations between the phenomena of perception, action, consciousness, attention, and reference. I even (...) think that there is probably something importantly right about the main claim of the paper. I take this to be the claim that there is a tight connection – of some sort at any rate – between our capacity to refer demonstratively to perceptually presented objects and our capacity to attend to those objects in our conscious awareness of them. What precisely this connection consists in, however, remains a mystery to me. My goal in these comments is to clarify this result. I will begin, in section 2, with a fairly general statement of the problem I take Campbell to have set himself. Following this, in section 3, I will focus more particularly on what kind of relation Campbell takes to exist, or does exist, or perhaps could exist between attention and demonstrative reference. I examine four options, the first three of which seem to admit of clear counterexamples, and the fourth of which is too weak to be of any real interest. (shrink)
The focus of this book is on conceptual and philosophical issues of perception including the classic notion of unconscious inferences in perception. The book consists of contributions from a group of internationally renowned researchers who spent a year together as distinguised fellows at the German Centre for Advanced Study.
The chapter deals with misconceptions in perception theory that are based on the idea of slicing the nature of perception along the joints of physics and on corresponding ill-conceived ʹpurposesʹ and ʹgoalsʹ of the perceptual system. It argues that the conceptual structure underlying the percept cannot be inferentially attained from the sensory input. The output of the perceptual system, namely meaningful categories, is evidently vastly underdetermined by the sensory input, namely physico-geometric energy patterns. Thus, the core task of perception theory (...) is to understand the internal conceptual structure with which our perceptual system is endowed. The conceptual structure underlying the semantic distinctions that characterise the output of the perceptual system can, by conceptual necessity, only be expressed by a logical language that is strictly more powerful than the logical language by which sensory notions can be expressed. Consequently, the internal structure underlying perceptual meaning – including core notions such as ‘Gestalt’ or ‘perceptual object’ – cannot be derived, by whatever kind of general inductive machinery, from the sensory input, or, more generally, from experience. (shrink)
When I was revising _Sensory Qualities_ there was a period of about a year when I set the manuscript aside and did other things. When I returned to it I found that certain portions of the argument had collapsed of their own weight, like an old New England barn, and could be carted off the premises without compunction. Other parts were wobbling on their foundation, while some had weathered well and seemed nice and solid. My revision strategy was simple: I (...) kept just the nice solid bits, thinking that I could go back and work on the wobbly portions later. (shrink)
We see things. We also perceptually demonstrate things. There seems to be some sort of link between these two phenomena. Indeed. in the standard case, the former is accompanied by a capacity for the latter. One sees a dog and can, on the basis of one’s perceptual capacities, think thoughts of the form ‘That is F’. But how strong is that link? Does seeing a thing inevitably bring with it the capacity for perceptually demonstrating it? In what follows, we argue (...) for a negative answer to this question. In so doing, we hope to shed some light on the phenomenon of perceptual demonstration. After presenting the main argument in section one, we go on in section two to consider a series of objections and replies. (shrink)
This paper explores some problems with Gareth Evans’s theory of the fundamental and non-fundamental levels of thought . I suggest a way to reconceive the levels of thought that overcomes these problems. But, first, why might anyone who was not already struck by Evans’s remarkable theory care about these issues? What’s at stake here?