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.