PPPP Conference Abstracts


Maja Spener, “Experiential Pluralism and Mental Kinds”

This paper offers a novel argument in favour of experiential pluralism about visual experience – the view that the nature of successful visual experience is different from the nature of unsuccessful visual experience. In addition, it makes a methodological point about philosophical debates concerning the nature of perceptual experience: whether a given view about the nature of experience amounts to an interesting and substantive thesis about our own minds, depends on the significance of the psychological kind claim made by it. This means that an adequate defence of a given view of the nature of experience must include articulation of the latter’s significance qua psychological kind. The argument advanced provides the material to meet this demand. In turn, this constitutes further support for the argument itself.

Joshua Gert, “Neo-pragmatism and Philosophy of Perception”

This paper illustrates how the methodology of neo-pragmatism can be fruitfully deployed in philosophy of perception. The neo-pragmatist emphasis on our linguistic practices explains the appeal of the theses of the immediacy and transparency of experience. The first of these theses asserts that, in perception, objects in the world are “made manifest” to us, rather than being represented by, or indirectly perceived via, intermediaries such as sense data. The second holds that attention to perceptual experience typically reveals only properties of its objects, rather than intrinsic properties of the experiences themselves. These plausible theses have led some philosophers to endorse the more surprising thesis of disjunctivism: the idea that even perfect hallucinations, regarded as mental phenomena, are of a fundamentally different metaphysical kind from the veridical perceptions from which they are subjectively indistinguishable. Neo-pragmatism not only helps explain immediacy and transparency, but it also helps to diagnose the errors that lead from the more plausible theses about perceptual experience to the much more controversial thesis of metaphysical disjunctivism. Moreover, neo-pragmatism also suggests a positive view of perception: a form of adverbialism that relies on the idea that our sensory states are information-bearing, but not, in any robust sense, representational.

Komarine Romdenh-Romluc, “Merleau-Ponty’s Theory of Perception—Methodology”

A methodology is a theory of method. In asking for a methodology, one wants to know which method(s) we should use for investigating some topic, and why. Merleau-Ponty is a phenomenologist who is famous for his analyses of perception. Phenomenology is not a unified movement – it’s more like a tradition, where figures are linked by historical lineages: the inheritance and taking up of particular themes and ideas. Whilst it explicitly bills itself as having a distinct method, different phenomenologists interpret it in various ways. In this paper, I will explain how Merleau-Ponty understands the phenomenological method, and how he applies it in his study of perception.

Anil Gomes, “Perception and Autonomy”

What method should we use when attempting to determine truths about the nature of perceptual experience? Call this the question of method. And how does the philosophy of perception relate to the science of perception? Call this the question of association. One answer to the question of method is that we should use transcendental arguments to determine the nature of perceptual experience. And one attraction of such a method is that it seems to allow an autonomous approach to the philosophy of perception, one which takes the philosophy of perception to be independent of the science of perception. This paper will compare the method of transcendental argumentation with two alternative answers to the question of method, one which emphasises our first-person perspective on perceptual experience, and one which takes the nature of perceptual experience to be determined by our best scientific theories. In particular, I’ll consider the extent to which the method of transcendental argumentation supports an autonomous conception of the philosophy of perception. I’ll suggest that it may be difficult to pursue an autonomous conception of the philosophy of perception independent of substantive commitments about the role that the first-person perspective plays in theorising about the nature of perceptual experience – commitments which were central to early analytic philosophy of perception but which may be less attractive to contemporary philosophers of perception.

Bill Fish, “Perceptual Paradigms”

Everyone would agree, I think, that contemporary philosophical thinking and theorising about perception should both be aware of, and consistent with, the findings of visual science. Yet despite this consensus, there is little discussion – and even less agreement – about how this should actually work in practice. In this paper, I will propose that we can gain useful insights by bringing some tools from the philosophy of science to bear on this question. I attempt to first motivate the possibility that different philosophical theories of perception can usefully be viewed through a Kuhnian lens – as paradigms (or, more strictly, Lakatosian research programmes, but that didn’t make for such a good title) – and then investigate the methodological consequences that would flow from this. I will argue that looking at recent debates in this way can not only shed light on why they may seem so intractable, but can also provide us with some reassurance that this is actually a good thing.

Wayne Wu, “Introspecting Perceptual Consciousness”

Theories of perceptual consciousness typically begin with introspection. Introspection, as I shall discuss it, is one’s distinctive access to one’s perceptually conscious states, and introspective reports provide the fundamental data for a theory of consciousness. But what is introspection as a psychological capacity? Strikingly, we do not have good cognitive models of introspection, but then, how can we assess the quality of introspective data? Which reports are reliable, which are not? The challenge, and an old one, is how to provide a systematic basis for calibrating introspection. Calibration requires a model, and in this talk, I provide one that is based on perceptual attention and its capacity to inform all action, including introspecting one’s perceptual experience. Having a model then opens a wealth of possibilities for calibration and a fruitful research program involving philosophy and cognitive science for understanding the nature of perceptual experience.