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Drayson, Zoe, , . What is Action-Oriented Perception?
2017, in Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the 15th International Congress (College Publications, 2017).
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Contemporary scientific and philosophical literature on perception often focuses on the relationship between perception and action, emphasizing the ways in which perception can be understood as geared towards action or ‘action-oriented’. In this paper I provide a framework within which to classify approaches to action-oriented perception, and I highlight important differences between the distinct approaches. I show how talk of perception as action-oriented can be applied to the evolutionary history of perception, neural or psychological perceptual mechanisms, the semantic content or phenomenal character of perceptual states, or to the metaphysical nature of perception. I argue that there are no straightforward inferences from one kind of action-oriented perception to another. Using this framework and its insights, I then explore the notion of action-oriented perceptual representation which plays a key role in some approaches to embodied cognitive science. I argue that the concept of action-oriented representation proposed by Clark and Wheeler is less straightforward than it might seem, because it seems to require both that the mechanisms of perceptual representation are action-oriented and that the content of these perceptual representations are action-oriented. Given that neither of these claims can be derived from the other, proponents of action-oriented representation owe us separate justification for each claim. I will argue that such justifications are not forthcoming in the literature, and that attempts to reconstruct them run into trouble: the sorts of arguments offered for the representational mechanisms being action-oriented seem to undermine the sorts of arguments offered for the representational content being action-oriented, and vice-versa.

Comment: Useful background reading concerning perception and action; cover enactivism, but also other perception/action issues

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Gangopadhyay, Nivedita, , Julian Kiverstein. Enactivism and the Unity of Perception and Action
2009, Topoi 28: 63-73
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: This paper contrasts two enactive theories of visual experience: the sensorimotor theory (O’Regan and Noë, Behav Brain Sci 24(5):939–1031, 2001; Noë and O’Regan, Vision and mind, 2002; Noë, Action in perception, 2004) and Susan Hurley’s (Consciousness in action, 1998, Synthese 129:3–40, 2001) theory of active perception. We criticise the sensorimotor theory for its commitment to a distinction between mere sensorimotor behaviour and cognition. This is a distinction that is firmly rejected by Hurley. Hurley argues that personal level cognitive abilities emerge out of a complex dynamic feedback system at the subpersonal level. Moreover reflection on the role of eye movements in visual perception establishes a further sense in which a distinction between sensorimotor behaviour and cognition cannot be sustained. The sensorimotor theory has recently come under critical fire (see e.g. Block, J Philos CII(5):259–272, 2005; Prinz, Psyche, 12(1):1–19, 2006; Aizawa, J Philos CIV(1), 2007) for mistaking a merely causal contribution of action to perception for a constitutive contribution. We further argue that the sensorimotor theory is particularly vulnerable to this objection in a way that Hurley’s active perception theory is not. This presents an additional reason for preferring Hurley’s theory as providing a conceptual framework for the enactive programme.

Comment: Specialised background reading on enactivism.
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Hurley, Susan, , . Perception and Action: Alternative Views
2001, Synthese 129(1): 3-40.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: A traditional view of perception and action makes two assumptions: that the causal flow between perception and action is primarily linear or one-way, and that they are merely instrumentally related to each other, so that each is a means to the other. Either or both of these assumptions can be rejected. Behaviorism rejects the instrumental but not the one-way aspect of the traditional view, thus leaving itself open to charges of verificationism. Ecological views reject the one-way aspect but not the instrumental aspect of the traditional view, so that perception and action are seen as instrumentally interdependent. It is argued here that a better alternative is to reject both assumptions, resulting in a two-level interdependence view in which perception and action co-depend on dynamically circular subpersonal relations and as a result may be more than merely instrumentally interdependent. This is illustrated by reference to motor theories of perception and control theories of action.

Comment: A great introduction to motor theories of perception and a great challenge to the traditional view of the senses and actions. Would be a useful source in any examination of philosophy of perception.

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Levin, Janet, , . Molyneux’s Question and the Amodality of Experience
2018, Inquiry 61: 590-610.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience purports to have answered a question posed to Locke in 1688 by his friend William Molyneux, namely, whether ‘a man born blind and made to see’ would be able to identify, immediately and by vision alone, objects previously known only by touch. The answer, according to the researchers – and as predicted by Molyneux, as well as Locke, Berkeley, and others – is ‘likely negative. The newly sighted subjects did not exhibit an immediate transfer of their tactile shape knowledge to the visual domain’. Since then, however, many commentators have argued that the answer is still not clear. Moreover, in the contemporary literature on Molyneux’s Question, and more generally on cross-modal perception and the individuation of the senses, it is sometimes hard to determine what question is being investigated. In this paper, I distinguish a number of different questions about the relation between visual and tactual perception that can arise when considering Molyneux’s problem.

Comment: Background reading on Molyneux’s question and spatial perception.
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Siegel, Susanna, , . Affordances and the Contents of Perception
2014, in Brogaard, Berit (ed.) Does Perception have Content, OUP
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Summary: The author questions the centrality of representation in perceptual experience that comes from a specific class of experience, namely, those experiences of the environment that compels you to act in a certain way.

Comment: This could work as secondary reading for a postgraduate course on philosophy of perception.
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