Philosophical Studies

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 477–492

Perceiving and desiring: a new look at the cognitive penetrability of experience


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-010-9688-8

Cite this article as:
Stokes, D. Philos Stud (2012) 158: 477. doi:10.1007/s11098-010-9688-8


This paper considers an orectic penetration hypothesis (OPH) which says that desires and desire-like states may influence perceptual experience in a non-externally mediated way. This hypothesis is clarified with a definition, which serves further to distinguish the interesting target phenomenon from trivial and non-genuine instances of desire-influenced perception. Orectic penetration is an interesting possible case of the cognitive penetrability of perceptual experience. The OPH is thus incompatible with the more common thesis that perception is cognitively impenetrable. It is of importance to issues in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, epistemology, and general philosophy of science. The plausibility of orectic penetration can be motivated by some classic experimental studies, and some new experimental research inspired by those same studies. The general suggestion is that orectic penetration thus defined, and evidenced by the relevant studies, cannot be deflected by the standard strategies of the cognitive impenetrability theorist.


Cognitive penetrabilityTheory-ladennessPerceptionExperienceCognitionModularity

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada