Philosophical Studies

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 373–392 | Cite as

Strong representationalism and centered content

Article

Abstract

I argue that strong representationalism, the view that for a perceptual experience to have a certain phenomenal character just is for it to have a certain representational content (perhaps represented in the right sort of way), encounters two problems: the dual looks problem and the duplication problem. The dual looks problem is this: strong representationalism predicts that how things phenomenally look to the subject reflects the content of the experience. But some objects phenomenally look to both have and not have certain properties, for example, my bracelet may phenomenally look to be circular-shaped and oval-shaped (and hence non-circular-shaped). So, if strong representationalism is true, then the content of my experience ought to represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. Yet, intuitively, the content of my experience does not represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. The duplication problem is this. On a standard conception of content, spatio-temporally distinct experiences and experiences had by distinct subjects may differ in content despite the fact that they are phenomenally indistinguishable. But this undermines the thesis that phenomenal character determines content. I argue that the two problems can be solved by applying a version of an idea from David Chalmers, which is to recognize the existence of genuinely centered properties in the content of perceptual experience.

Keywords

Strong representationalism The duplication problem The dual looks problem The content of perception Perceptual content Phenomenal character Viewpoint-dependent property Viewpoint-independent property Centered worlds Centered content Centered properties 

References

  1. Alston, W. P. (2002). Sellars and the ‘Myth of the given’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 65, 69–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bermudez, J. L. (1995). Nonconceptual content: From perceptual experience to subpersonal computational states. Mind and Language, 10, 333–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brogaard, B. (2009). Perspectival truth and color primitivism. In C. Wright & N. Pedersen (Eds.), New waves in truth. New Waves Series, (forthcoming). Google Scholar
  4. Carruthers, P. (2000). Phenomenal consciousness: A naturalistic theory. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. (2004). The representational character of experience. In B. Leiter (Ed.), The future for philosophy (pp. 153–181). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chalmers, D. (2006). Perception and the fall from Eden. In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Perceptual experience (pp. 49–125). Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chisholm, R. (1957). Perceiving: A philosophical study (Vol. 4). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crane, T. (1992). The nonconceptual content of experience. In T. Crane (Ed.), The contents of experience (pp. 136–157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crane, T. (2006). Is there a perceptual relation? In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Perceptual experience. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  10. Crane, T. (2007). Intentionalism. In A. Beckerman & B. McLaughlin (Eds.), Oxford handbook to the philosophy of mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dretske, F. (1995). Naturalizing the mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Egan, A. (2006). Appearance properties? Noûs, 40, 495–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harman, G. (1999). Reasoning, meaning and mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heck, R. (2000). Nonconceptual content and the ‘Space of reasons’. Philosophical Review, 109, 483–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson, F. (1977). Perception: A representative theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kaplan, D. (1973/1989). Demonstratives. In J. Almog, J. Perry, & H. Wettstein (Eds.), Themes from Kaplan. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 481–563. (Page numbers refer to the published version.)Google Scholar
  17. Lasersohn, P. (2009). Relative truth, speaker commitment, and control of implicit arguments. Synthese, 166, 359–374. Google Scholar
  18. Lycan, W. (1995). “Layered perceptual representation”, and “Replies”. In E. Villanueva (Ed.), Philosophical issues (pp. 81–100, 127–142). Atascadero: Ridgeview Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Lycan, W. (1996). Consciousness and experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Martin, M. G. F. (1992). Perception, concepts and memory. Philosophical Review, 101, 745–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McGinn, C. (1989). Mental content. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. Noë, A. (2004). Action in perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Peacocke, C. (1983). Sense and content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Peacocke, C. (1992/2003). Scenarios, concepts and perception. In Y. Gunther (Ed.), Essays on nonconceptual content (pp. 107–132). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Peacocke, C. (1998). Nonconceptual content defended. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 58, 381–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sainsbury, M. (2007). A puzzle about how things look. In M. M. McCabe & M. Textor (Eds.), Perspectives on perception (pp. 7–17). Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.Google Scholar
  27. Schellenberg, S. (2008). The situation-dependency of perception. Journal of Philosophy, 105, 55–84.Google Scholar
  28. Schiffer, S. (1978). The basis of reference. Erkenntnis, 13, 171–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schiffer, S. (1981). Indexicals and the theory of reference. Synthese, 49, 43–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schroeder, T., & Caplan, B. (2007). On the content of experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 75, 590–611. (Citations refer to online version.)Google Scholar
  31. Searle, J. (1983). Intentionality. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  32. Thompson, B. (2006). Color constancy and Russellian representationalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 84, 75–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tye, M. (1996). Perceptual experience is a many-layered thing. In E. Villanueva (Ed.), Philosophical Issues (Vol 7, pp. 117–126). Atascadero: Ridgeview Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Tye, M. (2000). Consciousness, color and content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Tye, M. (2003). Consciousness and persons: Unity and identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Tye, M. (2005). On the nonconceptual content of experience. In M. E. Reicher & J. C. Marek (Eds.), Experience and analysis (pp. 221–239). Vienna: ÖBV & HPT.Google Scholar
  37. Tye, M. (2007). Intentionalism and the argument from no common content. In J. Hawthorne (Ed.), Philosophical perspectives 21: philosophy of Mind (pp. 589–613). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Tye, M. (2008). The admissible contents of visual experience. The Philosophical Quarterly. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.575.x.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.University of MissouriSt. Louis USA

Personalised recommendations