Workshop on Naturalism in Philosophy of Perception

The next of our ‘Purpose and Procedure in the Philosophy of Perception‘ workshops will be in York on March 29th. Our speakers are Zoe Drayson, Keith Wilson and Paul Noordhof. All welcome, but places are limited: email to register.



Keith Wilson, ‘How Many Senses?’

In an influential paper, Paul Rozin (1982) claims that human olfaction is a “dual sense” due to the differing pathways involved in what we normally think of as ‘smell’ and ‘taste’ (aka flavour) experiences. This makes olfaction an interesting test case for theories of sensory individuation. In this paper I argue that the criteria that have been traditionally been advanced to answer the question of how many type or token senses we possess do not deliver a clear verdict in this case. Indeed, the question itself is ambiguous between two importantly different notions of what constitutes a sensory modality. Rather than being competing notions, as some philosophers have argued, however, we should allow that both are required to do justice to the multimodal nature of perception.

Zoe Drayson, ‘Naturalism and the metaphysics of perception’

In this paper I explore the relationship between philosophical theories of perception (e.g. naïve realism, representationalism) and scientific theories of perception (e.g. ecological theories, constructivism). According to an a priori approach to metaphysical necessity, for example, scientific accounts of perception can’t tell us about the nature of perception, but only how it is realized in the actual world. More naturalistic approaches to the philosophy of perception, such as Andy Clark and Jakob Howhy’s recent work on predictive processing, seem to suggest that the correct philosophical theory of perception can be ‘read off’ the appropriate science. In this paper I highlight the problems for this extreme form of naturalism, and draw on work in naturalized metaphysics concerning nomological necessity, laws of nature, and natural kinds to outline the options for a more moderate naturalism.

CFP: Purpose and Procedure in the Philosophy of Perception conference and edited volume

We invite submissions of papers for inclusion in an edited volume that directly address the goal of our project, Purpose and Procedure in the Philosophy of Perception. Those whose papers are selected for the volume will also be invited to be commentators at our project conference on July 11-12, 2017 in Leeds. (We will be able to cover accommodation and intra-European travel expenses.)

Please send submissions prepared for blind review to (as a .pdf file entitled “Purpose and Procedure Conference Submission”). The deadline for submissions is 13 March 2017. Applicants will be notified of the results in early to mid April.

Papers should be circa 8500 words and contain an informative abstract to facilitate review.


Conference on Molyneux’s Question and more!

We are very pleased to say that (with John Schwenkler from Florida State) we have been awarded some more money from the Templeton-funded New Directions project to hold a two day conference, in York, on the philosophical significance of Molyneux’s Question. More information, including a call for papers, coming soon!

Also this academic year, we’ll be holding two more workshops and a conference as part of our Purpose and Procedure project. The first workshop, to be held in York, will be on naturalism in the philosophy of perception. The second, in Durham, will be on the role of metaphysics in the philosophy of perception. The conference will be in Leeds. We’ll announce speakers and dates nearer the time.

Durham workshop on Hallucinations, Illusions and Delusions: schedule and registration

Find below the schedule for our next Purpose and Procedure in the Philosophy of Perception workshop on Hallucinations, Illusions and Delusions. We have a small number of places available at this workshop. To register, please email

September 14th, University of Durham


11:00 -12:30              Ema Sullivan-Bissett (Birmingham) (with Paul Noordhof):

“Delusional Experience and Relational Accounts of Perception”

12:30 -1:30                 Lunch

1:30 – 3:00                 Craig French (Nottingham) (with Ian Phillips):

“Austerity and Illusion”

3:00 – 3:30                  Coffee

3:30 – 5:00                  Sam Wilkinson (Durham)

“Hearing Soundless Voices”