, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 397–417 | Cite as

The Causal Theory of Perception Revisited

  • Valtteri Arstila
  • Kalle Pihlainen
Original Article


It is generally agreed upon that Grice’s causal theory of perception describes a necessary condition for perception. It does not describe sufficient conditions, however, since there are entities in causal chains that we do not perceive and not all causal chains yield perceptions. One strategy for overcoming these problems is that of strengthening the notion of causality (as done by David Lewis). Another is that of specifying the criteria according to which perceptual experiences should match the way the world is (Frank Jackson and Michael Tye). Finally, one can also try to provide sufficient conditions by elaborating on the content of perceptual experiences (Alva Nöe). These different strategies are considered in this paper, with the conclusion that none of them is successful. However, a careful examination of their problems points towards the general solution that we outline at the end.


Perceptual Experience Visual Experience Spatial Property Causal Theory Causal Path 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank the two anonymous referees for their valuable comments, especially concerning our earlier version of the third condition for the theory of perception, which has undergone significant revisions. V. A. wishes to thank the Academy of Finland for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyÅbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland

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