A Sense So Rare: Measuring Olfactory Experiences and Making a Case for a Process Perspective on Sensory Perception

Biological Theory 9 (3):258-268 (2014)
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Abstract

Philosophical discussion about the reality of sensory perceptions has been hijacked by two tendencies. First, talk about perception has been largely centered on vision. Second, the realism question is traditionally approached by attaching objects or material structures to matching contents of sensory perceptions. These tendencies have resulted in an argumentative impasse between realists and anti-realists, discussing the reliability of means by which the supposed causal information transfer from object to perceiver takes place. Concerning the nature of sensory experiences and their capacity to provide access to reality, this article challenges the standard categories through which most arguments in this debate have been framed to date. Drawing on the underexplored case of olfaction, I first show how the details of the perception process determine the modalities of sensory experiences. I specifically examine the role of measurement and analyze its influence on the characterization of perceptions in olfaction. My aim is to argue for an understanding of perception through a process view, rather than one pertaining to objects and properties of objects.

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Author's Profile

Ann-Sophie Barwich
Indiana University, Bloomington

Citations of this work

Smelling Objects.Becky Millar - 2019 - Synthese 196 (10):4279-4303.
Spatial Aspects of Olfactory Experience.Solveig Aasen - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (8):1041-1061.
A Critique of Olfactory Objects.Ann-Sophie Barwich - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.

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References found in this work

The Problem of Perception.Tim Crane - 2005 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Sensing The World.Moreland Perkins - 1983 - Indianapolis: Hackett.
Smelling Matter.Benjamin D. Young - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (4):1-18.

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