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Matthen, Mohan, , . How Things Look (and What Things Look That Way)
2010, In Bence Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Abstract: What colour does a white wall look in the pinkish light of the late afternoon? What shape does a circular table look when you are standing next to it? These questions seem simple enough, but philosophers disagree sharply about them. In this paper, I attempt to provide a new approach to these questions, based on the idea that perception modifies our epistemic dispositions regarding specific environmental objects. I shall argue that by determining which object is involved in this way, we can determine the subject of visual predication. This enables us to parcel out visual features to different visual objects in a way that enables us to reconcile conflicting philosophical intuitions.

Comment: Matthen’s discussion of perceptual constancy is very clear and is centered on a philosophical analysis of the perceptual psychology. For this reason, it serves as a useful empirically informed companion to other philosophical discussions of perceptual constancy which are less empirically informed. It would be great in a third year or postgraduate course in Philosophy of Perception.

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Siegel, Susanna, , . Do Experiences Have Contents?
2010, In Bence -Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Will Hornett

Summary: This paper argues that despite the differences between perception and belief, perception involves states that are importantly similar to beliefs: conscious visual experiences. According to the Content View, these experiences have contents in the form of accuracy conditions. The paper develops and defends the Content View, discusses its significance, and argues that contrary to what is often supposed, the Content View is compatible with Naive Realist disjunctivism.

Comment: It is a fairly difficult paper because it has some technical sections and her main argument is rather dense. However, it is generally very clearly written, with numerous helpful examples, and a broad discussion of views on contemporary debate on perception. This paper could be used in a senior year or postgraduate course on the philosophy of perception as seminar reading since it is a detailed and controversial discussion of the metaphysics of perception. It has also been central to recent debates. It is is useful to teach alongside Thomas Raliegh’s “Phenomenology Without Representation” (2013).

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Siegel, Susanna, , . How Does Visual Phenomenology Constrain Object Seeing
2006, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84: 429-441.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: I argue that there are phenomenological constraints on what it is to see an object, and that these are overlooked by some theories that offer allegedly sufficient causal and counterfactual conditions on object-seeing.

Comment: Further reading on causal theories of perception; offers an interesting counterexample to the Lewisian view.

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Siegel, Susanna, , . The Contents of Visual Experience
2011, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Publisher’s Note: What do we see? We are visually conscious of colors and shapes, but are we also visually conscious of complex properties such as being John Malkovich? In this book, Susanna Siegel develops a framework for understanding the contents of visual experience, and argues that these contents involve all sorts of complex properties. Siegel starts by analyzing the notion of the contents of experience, and by arguing that theorists of all stripes should accept that experiences have contents. She then introduces a method for discovering the contents of experience: the method of phenomenal contrast. This method relies only minimally on introspection, and allows rigorous support for claims about experience. She then applies the method to make the case that we are conscious of many kinds of properties, of all sorts of causal properties, and of many other complex properties. She goes on to use the method to help analyze difficult questions about our consciousness of objects and their role in the contents of experience, and to reconceptualize the distinction between perception and sensation. Siegel’s results are important for many areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. They are also important for the psychology and cognitive neuroscience of vision.

Comment: Background reading on intentionalism in philosophy of perception
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