, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 169–191 | Cite as

A New Method for Establishing high-level Visual Content: The Conflict cross-modal Approach

  • Daniel TippensEmail author


Restrictivists hold that visual experience only represents low-level properties such as shape, spatial location, motion, color, etc. Expansionists contend that visual experience also represents high-level properties such as being a pine tree. I outline a new approach to support expansionism called the conflict cross-modal argument. What I call the conflict cross-modal effects occur when at least two perceptual systems disagree about some property belonging to a common stimulus, and this disagreement causes a change in the representational and phenomenal content of the perceptual experience associated with one, or both, modalities. The conflict cross-modal argument works by accepting that (1) if a property figures in a conflict cross-modal effect, then prima facie that property is a strong common sensible between the two modalities (that property normally figures in both modalities’ perceptual experiences), and (2) vision and another modality disagree about a property that is high-level for vision. After outlining this argument, and showing how it overcomes two obstacles that face traditional methods employed to defend expansionism, I turn to the well known Mcgurk effect as a case where vision and audition disagree about phoneme properties in order to employ my argument for the conclusion that phoneme properties are represented in visual experience. The upshot is that since phoneme properties are high-level for vision, we have an argument supporting expansionism.


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