A Defense of a Non-Computational, Interactive Model of Visual Observation

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:135 - 142 (1988)
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Abstract

If a computational account of visual perception were correct, then perception would involve at least two sorts of rule-guided inference processes: inference from primitive input to complex perceptual output (constructional inference) and inference from perceptual content to the organism's environment (representational inference). Psychologist J.J. Gibson argues that such accounts are circular. Fodor and Pylyshyn argue that Gibson's alternative account, though intended to be non-inferential, actually requires the above two sorts of inference. But their arguments for the necessity of inference work only if (1) complex properties cannot be transduced, and (2) we assume a signal transmission model of perception. The force of their arguments is weakened once we see that (1) their criterion for non-transducibility is itself problematic, and (2) an interactive model of visual perception does not require signal transmission.

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Bonnie Paller
California State University, Northridge

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