Philosophical Studies

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 227–249 | Cite as

Representationalism and the perspectival character of perceptual experience

  • René Jagnow


Perceptual experiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including Shoemaker and Lycan, argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense.


Perceptual experience Representationalism Perspectival character Scenario content 



I am grateful for comments by Beth Preston, who read an earlier draft of this paper. I presented a version of this paper at the annual meeting of the central division of the APA in 2010 and am grateful to Robert Schroer for his very helpful comments. Finally, I want to thank two anonymous reviewers for this journal. Their comments proved extremely valuable and helped me to improve the argument.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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