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Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp
  1.  64
    Between Perception and Action.Bence Nanay - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    What mediates between sensory input and motor output? What makes it possible to act on what you perceive? Bence Nanay argues that pragmatic representations provide the perceptual guidance for performing actions. They play a key role in our mental lives, and help explain why the majority of our mental processes are very similar to those of animals.
  2.  21
    Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Bency Nanay brings the discussion of aesthetics and perception together, to explore how many influential debates in aesthetics look very different, and may be easier to tackle, if we clarify the assumptions they make about perception and about experiences in general. He focuses on the concept of attention and the ways in which the distinction between distributed and focused attention can help us re-evaluate various key concepts and debates in aesthetics. Sometimes our attention is distributed in an unusual way: we (...)
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  3. Perception and Imagination: Amodal Perception as Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (2):239-254.
    When we see an object, we also represent those parts of it that are not visible. The question is how we represent them: this is the problem of amodal perception. I will consider three possible accounts: (a) we see them, (b) we have non-perceptual beliefs about them and (c) we have immediate perceptual access to them, and point out that all of these views face both empirical and conceptual objections. I suggest and defend a fourth account, according to which we (...)
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  4. Unconscious Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2021 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 376 (1817):20190689.
    Historically, mental imagery has been defined as an experiential state - as something necessarily conscious. But most behavioural or neuroimaging experiments on mental imagery - including the most famous ones - don’t actually take the conscious experience of the subject into consideration. Further, recent research highlights that there are very few behavioural or neural differences between conscious and unconscious mental imagery. I argue that treating mental imagery as not necessarily conscious (as potentially unconscious) would bring much needed explanatory unification to (...)
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  5. Perceptual Content and the Content of Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1723-1736.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that the phenomenal similarity between perceiving and visualizing can be explained by the similarity between the structure of the content of these two different mental states. And this puts important constraints on how we should think about perceptual content and the content of mental imagery.
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  6.  43
    Multimodal Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2018 - Cortex 105:125-136.
    When I am looking at my coffee machine that makes funny noises, this is an instance of multisensory perception – I perceive this event by means of both vision and audition. But very often we only receive sensory stimulation from a multisensory event by means of one sense modality, for example, when I hear the noisy coffee machine in the next room, that is, without seeing it. The aim of this paper is to bring together empirical findings about multimodal perception (...)
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  7. Implicit Bias as Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2021 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (3):329-347.
    What is the mental representation that is responsible for implicit bias? What is this representation that mediates between the trigger and the biased behavior? My claim is that this representation is neither a propositional attitude nor a mere association. Rather, it is mental imagery: perceptual processing that is not directly triggered by sensory input. I argue that this view captures the advantages of the two standard accounts without inheriting their disadvantages. Further, this view also explains why manipulating mental imagery is (...)
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  8. Do We See Apples as Edible?Bence Nanay - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3):305-322.
    Do we (sometimes) perceive apples as edible? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we see it as having certain shape, size and color and we only infer on the basis of these properties that it is. I argue that we do indeed see objects as edible, and do not just believe that they are. My argument proceeds in two steps. First, I point out (...)
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  9. The Role of Imagination in Decision-Making.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (1):126-142.
    The psychological mechanism of decision-making has traditionally been modeled with the help of belief-desire psychology: the agent has some desires (or other pro-attitudes) and some background beliefs and deciding between two possible actions is a matter of comparing the probability of the satisfaction of these desires given the background beliefs in the case of the performance of each action. There is a wealth of recent empirical findings about how we actually make decisions that seems to be in conflict with this (...)
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  10. Attention and Perceptual Content.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Analysis 70 (2):263-270.
    I argue that perceptual content is always affected by the allocation of one’s attention. Perception attributes determinable and determinate properties to the perceived scene. Attention makes (or tries to make) our perceptual attribution of properties more determinate. Hence, a change in our attention changes the determinacy of the properties attributed to the perceived scene.
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  11. 视觉的历史.Bence Nanay - 2018 - Zhongguo Meixue Yanjiu 10:311-331.
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  12. Against Imagination.Bence Nanay - forthcoming - In Jonathan Cohen & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Mind (2nd Edition). Oxford: Blackwell.
    The term ‘imagination’ may seem harmless. We talk about imagination all the time. Nonetheless, I will argue that we should treat it with suspicion. More precisely, I will argue that the explanatory power of the concept of imagination can be fully captured by a scientifically more respectable and more powerful concept, namely, the concept of mental imagery.
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  13. Imagination and Perception.Bence Nanay - 2016 - In Amy Kind (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Imagination. Routledge.
    Look at a red apple. Now close your eyes and visualize this apple. Your perceptual state and your imagery of the apple are very similar in some respects. They are also different in some respects. The aim of this paper is to address three questions about the relation between perception and imagination: -/- (a) How similar are perception and imagination and what explains this similarity? (b) How different are perception and imagination and what explains this difference? (c) How do perception (...)
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  14. A Modal Theory of Function.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (8):412-431.
    The function of a trait token is usually defined in terms of some properties of other (past, present, future) tokens of the same trait type. I argue that this strategy is problematic, as trait types are (at least partly) individuated by their functional properties, which would lead to circularity. In order to avoid this problem, I suggest a way to define the function of a trait token in terms of the properties of the very same trait token. To able to (...)
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  15. Hallucination as Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (7-8):65-81.
    Hallucination is a big deal in contemporary philosophy of perception. The main reason for this is that the way hallucination is treated marks an important stance in one of the most hotly contested debates in this subdiscipline: the debate between 'relationalists' and 'representationalists'. I argue that if we take hallucinations to be a form of mental imagery, then we have a very straightforward way of arguing against disjunctivism: if hallucination is a form of mental imagery and if mental imagery and (...)
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  16. Amodal Completion and Knowledge.Grace Helton & Bence Nanay - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):415-423.
    Amodal completion is the representation of occluded parts of perceived objects. We argue for the following three claims: First, at least some amodal completion-involved experiences can ground knowledge about the occluded portions of perceived objects. Second, at least some instances of amodal completion-grounded knowledge are not sensitive, that is, it is not the case that in the nearest worlds in which the relevant claim is false, that claim is not believed true. Third, at least some instances of amodal completion-grounded knowledge (...)
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  17. Action-Oriented Perception.Bence Nanay - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):430-446.
    Abstract: When I throw a ball at you, do you see it as catch-able? Do we perceive objects as edible, climbable or Q-able in general? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we only infer on the basis of its other properties that it is. I argue that whether or not an object is edible or climbable is indeed represented perceptually: we see objects as (...)
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  18. Aesthetic Attention.Bence Nanay - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (5-6):96-118.
    The aim of this paper is to give a new account of the way we exercise our attention in some paradigmatic cases of aesthetic experience. I treat aesthetic experience as a specific kind of experience and like in the case of other kinds of experiences, attention plays an important role in determining its phenomenal character. I argue that an important feature of at least some of our aesthetic experiences is that we exercise our attention in a specific, distributed, manner: our (...)
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  19. Attention Is Amplification, Not Selection.Peter Fazekas & Bence Nanay - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):299-324.
    We argue that recent empirical findings and theoretical models shed new light on the nature of attention. According to the resulting amplification view, attentional phenomena can be unified at the neural level as the consequence of the amplification of certain input signals of attention-independent perceptual computations. This way of identifying the core realizer of attention evades standard criticisms often raised against sub-personal accounts of attention. Moreover, this approach also reframes our thinking about the function of attention by shifting the focus (...)
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  20.  63
    Threefoldness.Bence Nanay - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):163-182.
    Theories of picture perception aim to understand our perceptual relation to both the picture surface and the depicted object. I argue that we should talk about not two, but three entities when understanding picture perception: the picture surface, the three dimensional object the picture surface visually encodes and the three dimensional depicted object. As and can come apart, we get a more complex picture of picture perception than normally assumed and one where the notion of twofoldness, which has played an (...)
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  21. Perceiving Indeterminately.Bence Nanay - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):160-166.
    It has been argued recently that perception is indeterminate. But there are more than one ways of spelling out what this means. The standard line is that perceptual states attribute different probabilities to different propositions. I provide an alternative to this view, where it is not the attitude, but the content of perceptual states that is indeterminate, inasmuch as it consists of the representation of determinable properties. This view does justice to the more general claim that perception is indeterminate without (...)
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  22. Relationalism and Unconscious Perception.Jacob Berger & Bence Nanay - 2016 - Analysis 76 (4):426-433.
    Relationalism holds that perceptual experiences are relations between subjects and perceived objects. But much evidence suggests that perceptual states can be unconscious. We argue here that unconscious perception raises difficulties for relationalism. Relationalists would seem to have three options. First, they may deny that there is unconscious perception or question whether we have sufficient evidence to posit it. Second, they may allow for unconscious perception but deny that the relationalist analysis applies to it. Third, they may offer a relationalist explanation (...)
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  23. Teleosemantics Without Etiology.Bence Nanay - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):798-810.
    The aim of teleosemantics is to give a scientifically respectable, or ‘naturalistic’ theory of mental content. In the debates surrounding the scope and merits of teleosemantics a lot has been said about the concept of indication (or carrying information). The aim of this paper is to focus on the other key concept of teleosemantics: biological function. It has been universally accepted in the teleosemantics literature that the account of biological function one should use to flesh out teleosemantics is that of (...)
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  24. Action‐Oriented Perception.Bence Nanay - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):430-446.
    : When I throw a ball at you, do you see it as catch‐able? Do we perceive objects as edible, climbable or Q‐able in general? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we only infer on the basis of its other properties that it is. I argue that whether or not an object is edible or climbable is indeed represented perceptually: we see objects as (...)
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  25. Perceiving Pictures.Bence Nanay - 2011 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (4):461-480.
    I aim to give a new account of picture perception: of the way our visual system functions when we see something in a picture. My argument relies on the functional distinction between the ventral and dorsal visual subsystems. I propose that it is constitutive of picture perception that our ventral subsystem attributes properties to the depicted scene, whereas our dorsal subsystem attributes properties to the picture surface. This duality elucidates Richard Wollheim’s concept of the “twofoldness” of our experience of pictures: (...)
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  26. Amodal completion and relationalism.Bence Nanay - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2537-2551.
    Amodal completion is usually characterized as the representation of those parts of the perceived object that we get no sensory stimulation from. In the case of the visual sense modality, for example, amodal completion is the representation of occluded parts of objects we see. I argue that relationalism about perception, the view that perceptual experience is constituted by the relation to the perceived object, cannot give a coherent account of amodal completion. The relationalist has two options: construe the perceptual relation (...)
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  27. Perception is Not All-Purpose.Bence Nanay - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 17):4069-4080.
    I aim to show that perception depends counterfactually on the action we want to perform. Perception is not all-purpose: what we want to do does influence what we see. After clarifying how this claim is different from the one at stake in the cognitive penetrability debate and what counterfactual dependence means in my claim, I will give a two-step argument: one’s perceptual attention depends counterfactually on one’s intention to perform an action and one’s perceptual processing depends counterfactually on one’s perceptual (...)
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  28. The Representationalism Versus Relationalism Debate: Explanatory Contextualism About Perception.Bence Nanay - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (2):321-336.
    There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to representationalism, perceptual states are representations: they represent the world as being a certain way. They have content, which may or may not be different from the content of beliefs. They represent objects as having properties, sometimes veridically, sometimes not. According to relationalism, perception is a relation between the agent and the perceived object. Perceived objects are literally constituents of our perceptual states and not of the contents thereof. Perceptual (...)
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  29. How to (and How Not to) Think About Top-Down Influences on Visual Perception.Christoph Teufel & Bence Nanay - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 47:17-25.
    The question of whether cognition can influence perception has a long history in neuroscience and philosophy. Here, we outline a novel approach to this issue, arguing that it should be viewed within the framework of top-down information-processing. This approach leads to a reversal of the standard explanatory order of the cognitive penetration debate: we suggest studying top-down processing at various levels without preconceptions of perception or cognition. Once a clear picture has emerged about which processes have influences on those at (...)
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  30. Trompe L’Oeil and the Dorsal/Ventral Account of Picture Perception.Bence Nanay - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (1):181-197.
    While there has been a lot of discussion of picture perception both in perceptual psychology and in philosophy, these discussions are driven by very different background assumptions. Nonetheless, it would be mutually beneficial to arrive at an understanding of picture perception that is informed by both the philosophers’ and the psychologists’ story. The aim of this paper is exactly this: to give an account of picture perception that is valid both as a philosophical and as a psychological account. I argue (...)
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  31. Imaginative Resistance and Conversational Implicature.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):586-600.
    We experience resistance when we are engaging with fictional works which present certain (for example, morally objectionable) claims. But in virtue of what properties do sentences trigger this ‘imaginative resistance’? I argue that while most accounts of imaginative resistance have looked for semantic properties in virtue of which sentences trigger it, this is unlikely to give us a coherent account, because imaginative resistance is a pragmatic phenomenon. It works in a way very similar to Paul Grice's widely analysed ‘conversational implicature’.
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  32. Empirical Problems with Anti-Representationalism.Bence Nanay - 2014 - In B. Brogaard (ed.), Does Perception have Content? Oxford University Press.
    The aim of this paper is to raise some serious worries about anti-representationalism: the recently popular view according to which there are no perceptual representations. Although anti-representationalism is more and more popular, I will argue that we have strong empirical reasons for mistrusting it. More specifically, I will argue that it is inconsistent with some important empirical findings about dorsal perception and about the multimodality of perception.
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  33. Perceptual Phenomenology.Bence Nanay - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):235-246.
    I am looking at an apple. The apple has a lot of properties and some, but not all, of these are part of my phenomenology at this moment: I am aware of these properties. And some, but not all, of these properties that I am aware of are part of my perceptual (or sensory) phenomenology. If I am attending to the apple’s color, this property will be part of my perceptual phenomenology. The property of being a granny smith apple from (...)
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  34.  18
    What Do We See in Pictures? The Sensory Individuals of Picture Perception.Bence Nanay - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3729-3746.
    When I am looking at an apple, I perceptually attribute certain properties to certain entities. Two questions arise: what are these entities and what are these properties? This paper is about the former, less widely explored, question: what does our perceptual system attribute properties to? In other words, what are these ‘sensory individuals’. There have been important debates in philosophy of perception about what sensory individuals would be the most plausible candidates for which sense modalities. The aim of this paper (...)
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  35. Success Semantics: The Sequel.Bence Nanay - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):151-165.
    The aim of this paper is to reinterpret success semantics, a theory of mental content, according to which the content of a belief is fixed by the success conditions of some actions based on this belief. After arguing that in its present form, success semantics is vulnerable to decisive objections, I examine the possibilities of salvaging the core of this proposal. More specifically, I propose that the content of some very simple, but very important, mental states, the immediate mental antecedents (...)
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  36. Perceiving Tropes.Bence Nanay - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (1):1-14.
    There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to the first one, perception is representational: it represents the world as being a certain way. According to the second, perception is a genuine relation between the perceiver and a token object. These two views are thought to be incompatible. My aim is to work out the least problematic version of the representational view of perception that preserves the most important considerations in favor of the relational view. According to (...)
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  37. Synesthesia as (Multimodal) Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2021 - Multisensory Research 34:281-296.
    It has been repeatedly suggested that synesthesia is intricately connected with unusual ways of exercising one’s mental imagery, although it is not always entirely clear what the exact connection is. My aim is to show that all forms of synesthesia are forms of (often very different kinds of) mental imagery and, further, if we consider synesthesia to be a form of mental imagery, we get significant explanatory benefits, especially concerning less central cases of synesthesia where the inducer is not sensory (...)
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  38.  53
    Audition and Composite Sensory Individuals.Nick Young & Bence Nanay - 2022 - In Rick Grush (ed.), Sensory individuals, properties, and perceptual objects: unimodal and multimodal perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
    What are the sensory individuals of audition? What are the entities our auditory system attributes properties to? We examine various proposals about the nature of the sensory individuals of audition, and show that while each can account for some aspects of auditory perception, each also faces certain difficulties. We then put forward a new conception of sensory individuals according to which auditory sensory individuals are composite individuals. A feature shared by all existing accounts of sounds and sources is that they (...)
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  39. Entity Realism About Mental Representations.Bence Nanay - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (1):75-91.
    The concept of mental representation has long been considered to be central concept of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But not everyone agrees. Neo-behaviorists aim to explain the mind without positing any representations. My aim here is not to assess the merits and demerits of neo-behaviorism, but to take their challenge seriously and ask the question: What justifies the attribution of representations to an agent? Both representationalists and neo-behaviorists tend to take it for granted that the real question about (...)
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  40. Olfactory Amodal Completion.Benjamin D. Young & Bence Nanay - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):372-388.
    Amodal completion is the representation of those parts of the perceived object that we get no sensory stimulation from. While amodal completion is rife and plays an essential role in all sense modalities, philosophical discussions of this phenomenon have almost entirely been limited to vision. The aim of this paper is to examine in what sense we can talk about amodal completion in olfaction. We distinguish three different senses of amodal completion – spatial, temporal and feature-based completion – and argue (...)
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  41. Can Cumulative Selection Explain Adaptation?Bence Nanay - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1099-1112.
    Two strong arguments have been given in favor of the claim that no selection process can play a role in explaining adaptations. According to the first argument, selection is a negative force; it may explain why the eliminated individuals are eliminated, but it does not explain why the ones that survived (or their offspring) have the traits they have. The second argument points out that the explanandum and the explanans are phenomena at different levels: selection is a population-level phenomenon, whereas (...)
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  42. An Experiential Account of Creativity.Bence Nanay - 2014 - In Elliot Paul & Scott Barry Kaufman (eds.), The Philosophy of Creativity. Oxford University Press.
    The aim of the paper is to argue that the difference between creative and non-creative mental processes is not a functional/computational, but an experiential one. In other words, what is distinctive about creative mental processes is not the functional/computational mechanism that leads to the emergence of a creative idea, be it the recombination of old ideas or the transformation of one’s conceptual space, but the way in which this mental process is experienced. The explanatory power of the functional/computational theories and (...)
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  43. Inflected and Uninflected Perception of Pictures.Bence Nanay - 2010 - In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    It has been argued that picture perception is sometimes, but not always, ‘inflected’. Sometimes the picture’s design ‘inflects’, or is ‘recruited’ into the depicted scene. The aim of this paper is to cash out what is meant by these metaphors. Our perceptual state is different when we see an object fact to face or when we see it in a picture. But there is also a further distinction: our perceptual state is very different if we perceive objects in pictures in (...)
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  44. Unconscious Perceptual Justification.Jacob Berger, Bence Nanay & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (5-6):569-589.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs. A perceptual experience of a dog justifies the belief that there is a dog present. But there is much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, as in experiments involving masked priming. Do unconscious perceptual states provide justification as well? The answer depends on one’s theory of justification. While most varieties of externalism seem compatible with unconscious perceptual justification, several theories have recently afforded to consciousness a special role in perceptual justification. We argue that (...)
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  45. Against Aesthetic Judgments.Bence Nanay - 2018 - In Jennifer A. McMahon (ed.), Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment. London: Routledge.
    Analytic aesthetics has been obsessed with mature, art historically well-informed aesthetic judgment. But the vast majority of our engagement with art fails to take the form of this kind of judgment. Crucially, there seems to be a disconnect between taking pleasure in art and forming mature, well-informed judgments about it. My aim is to shift the emphasis away from aesthetic judgments to ways of engaging with works of art that are more enjoyable, more rewarding and happen to us more often.
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  46.  20
    Offline Perception.Peter Fazekas, Bence Nanay & Joel Pearson - 2021 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 376 (1817):2019.0686.
    Experiences that are self-generated and independent of sensory stimulations permeate our whole life. This theme issue examines their similarities and differences, systematizes the literature from an integrative perspective, critically discusses state-of-the-art empirical findings and proposes new theoretical approaches. The aim of the theme issue is to foster interaction between the different disciplines and research directions involved and to explore the prospects of a unificatory account of offline perception in general.
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  47. Perceiving the World.Bence Nanay (ed.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    'Perceiving the World' offers 11 essays written especially for this book by some of the leading contemporary philosophers of perception: Susanna Siegel, Jesse ...
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  48.  67
    Pain and Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2017 - The Monist 100 (4):485-500.
    One of the most promising trends both in the neuroscience of pain and in psychiatric treatments of chronic pain is the focus on mental imagery. My aim is to argue that if we take these findings seriously, we can draw very important and radical philosophical conclusions. I argue that what we pretheoretically take to be pain is partly constituted by sensory stimulation-driven pain processing and partly constituted by mental imagery. This general picture can explain some problematic cases of pain perception, (...)
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  49.  87
    Cognitive Penetration and the Gallery of Indiscernibles.Bence Nanay - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
    Danto's Gallery of Indiscernibles thought experiment only works if we make assumptions about the cognitive impenetrability of perception, which we have strong empirical reasons to reject.
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  50. Action Without Attention.Carolyn Dicey Jennings & Bence Nanay - 2016 - Analysis 76 (1):29-36.
    Wayne Wu argues that attention is necessary for action: since action requires a solution to the ‘Many–Many Problem’, and since only attention can solve the Many–Many Problem, attention is necessary for action. We question the first of these two steps and argue that it is based on an oversimplified distinction between actions and reflexes. We argue for a more complex typology of behaviours where one important category is action that does not require a solution to the Many–Many Problem, and so (...)
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