William F. Brewer
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
This paper proposes a set of criteria for an appropriate experiment on the issue of the theory ladenness of perception. These criteria are used to select a number of experiments that use: belief-based ambiguous figures, fragmented figures, or memory color. Crucially, the data in experiments of this type are based on the participant’s qualitative visual experience. Across many different types of experimental designs, different types of stimuli, and different types of belief manipulation, these experiments show the impact of belief/theory on visual perception. Using an ecological validity argument, I conclude that attention-based interpretations of these findings are not successful because the relevant epistemological issues only require that we examine final perception, in the sense of visual awareness of the everyday world. Finally, I argue that the epistemological consequences of theory-ladenness can be reduced by using a top-down/bottom-up theoretical framework and by adopting appropriate methodological procedures to data derived from individual observations.
Keywords Cognitive penetrability of perception  Ecological validity  Naturalized philosophy of science  Observation in science  Perceptual modules  Theory-ladenness of perception
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-015-9284-x
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin Ira Goldman - 1986 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.

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