•  2377
    The dominance of the visual
    In D. Stokes, M. Matthen & S. Biggs (eds.), Perception and its Modalities, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    Vision often dominates other perceptual modalities both at the level of experience and at the level of judgment. In the well-known McGurk effect, for example, one’s auditory experience is consistent with the visual stimuli but not the auditory stimuli, and naïve subjects’ judgments follow their experience. Structurally similar effects occur for other modalities (e.g. rubber hand illusions). Given the robustness of this visual dominance, one might not be surprised that visual imagery often domina…Read more
  •  2235
    Cognitive Penetrability of Perception
    Philosophy Compass 8 (7): 646-663. 2013.
    Perception is typically distinguished from cognition. For example, seeing is importantly different from believing. And while what one sees clearly influences what one thinks, it is debatable whether what one believes and otherwise thinks can influence, in some direct and non-trivial way, what one sees. The latter possible relation is the cognitive penetration of perception. Cognitive penetration, if it occurs, has implications for philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cogn…Read more
  •  1630
    Aesthetics and cognitive science
    Philosophy Compass 4 (5): 715-733. 2009.
    Experiences of art involve exercise of ordinary cognitive and perceptual capacities but in unique ways. These two features of experiences of art imply the mutual importance of aesthetics and cognitive science. Cognitive science provides empirical and theoretical analysis of the relevant cognitive capacities. Aesthetics thus does well to incorporate cognitive scientific research. Aesthetics also offers philosophical analysis of the uniqueness of the experience of art. Thus, cognitive science does…Read more
  •  1544
    This paper considers an orectic penetration hypothesis 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 orectic penetration hyp…Read more
  •  1173
    There are good, even if inconclusive, reasons to think that cognitive penetration of perception occurs: that cognitive states like belief causally affect, in a relatively direct way, the contents of perceptual experience. The supposed importance of – indeed as it is suggested here, what is definitive of – this possible phenomenon is that it would result in important epistemic and scientific consequences. One interesting and intuitive consequence entirely unremarked in the extant literature conce…Read more
  •  1020
    Noise, uncertainty, and interest: Predictive coding and cognitive penetration
    with Jona Vance
    Consciousness and Cognition 47 86-98. 2017.
    This paper concerns how extant theorists of predictive coding conceptualize and explain possible instances of cognitive penetration. §I offers brief clarification of the predictive coding framework and relevant mechanisms, and a brief characterization of cognitive penetration and some challenges that come with defining it. §II develops more precise ways that the predictive coding framework can explain, and of course thereby allow for, genuine top-down causal effects on perceptual experience, of …Read more
  •  919
    Modular architectures and informational encapsulation: A dilemma
    with Vincent Bergeron
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3): 315-38. 2015.
    Amongst philosophers and cognitive scientists, modularity remains a popular choice for an architecture of the human mind, primarily because of the supposed explanatory value of this approach. Modular architectures can vary both with respect to the strength of the notion of modularity and the scope of the modularity of mind. We propose a dilemma for modular architectures, no matter how these architectures vary along these two dimensions. First, if a modular architecture commits to the information…Read more
  •  869
    Attention and the Cognitive Penetrability of Perception
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (2): 303-318. 2018.
    One sceptical rejoinder to those who claim that sensory perception is cognitively penetrable is to appeal to the involvement of attention. So, while a phenomenon might initially look like one where, say, a perceiver’s beliefs are influencing her visual experience, another interpretation is that because the perceiver believes and desires as she does, she consequently shifts her spatial attention so as to change what she senses visually. But, the sceptic will urge, this is an entirely familiar phe…Read more
  •  867
    Rich perceptual content and aesthetic properties
    In Anna Bergqvist & Robert Cowan (eds.), Evaluative Perception, Oxford University Press. 2018.
    Both common sense and dominant traditions in art criticism and philosophical aesthetics have it that aesthetic features or properties are perceived. However, there is a cast of reasons to be sceptical of the thesis. This paper defends the thesis—that aesthetic properties are sometimes represented in perceptual experience—against one of those sceptical opponents. That opponent maintains that perception represents only low-level properties, and since all theorists agree that aesthetic properties a…Read more
  •  780
    This paper surveys historical and recent philosophical discussions of the relations between imagination and creativity. In the first two sections, it covers two insufficiently studied analyses of the creative imagination, that of Kant and Sartre, respectively. The next section discusses imagination and its role in scientific discovery, with particular emphasis on the writings of Michael Polanyi, and on thought experiments and experimental design. The final section offers a brief discussion of so…Read more
  •  760
  •  703
    Mental imagery and fiction
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6): 731-754. 2019.
    Fictions evoke imagery, and their value consists partly in that achievement. This paper offers analysis of this neglected topic. Section 2 identifies relevant philosophical background. Section 3 offers a working definition of imagery. Section 4 identifies empirical work on visual imagery. Sections 5 and 6 criticize imagery essentialism, through the lens of genuine fictional narratives. This outcome, though, is not wholly critical. The expressed spirit of imagery essentialism is to encourage phil…Read more
  •  647
    Incubated cognition and creativity
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (3): 83-100. 2007.
    Many traditional theories of creativity put heavy emphasis on an incubation stage in creative cognitive processes. The basic phenomenon is a familiar one: we are working on a task or problem, we leave it aside for some period of time, and when we return attention to the task we have some new insight that services completion of the task. This feature, combined with other ostensibly mysterious features of creativity, has discouraged naturalists from theorizing creativity. This avoidance is misguid…Read more
  •  595
    The evaluative character of imaginative resistance
    British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (4): 287-405. 2006.
    A fiction may prescribe imagining that a pig can talk or tell the future. A fiction may prescribe imagining that torturing innocent persons is a good thing. We generally comply with imaginative prescriptions like the former, but not always with prescriptions like the latter: we imagine non-evaluative fictions without difficulty but sometimes resist imagining value-rich fictions. Thus arises the puzzle of imaginative resistance. Most analyses of the phenomenon focus on the content of the relevant…Read more
  •  586
    Philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists have recently taken renewed interest in cognitive penetration, in particular, in the cognitive penetration of perceptual experience. The question is whether cognitive states like belief influence perceptual experience in some important way. Since the possible phenomenon is an empirical one, the strategy for analysis has, predictably, proceeded as follows: define the phenomenon and then, definition in hand, interpret various psychological data. Howeve…Read more
  •  575
    Minimally Creative Thought
    Metaphilosophy 42 (5): 658-681. 2011.
    Creativity has received, and continues to receive, comparatively little analysis in philosophy and the brain and behavioural sciences. This is in spite of the importance of creative thought and action, and the many and varied resources of theories of mind. Here an alternative approach to analyzing creativity is suggested: start from the bottom up with minimally creative thought. Minimally creative thought depends non-accidentally upon agency, is novel relative to the acting agent, and could not …Read more
  •  555
    We offer a brief characterization of creativity, followed by a review of some of the reasons people have been skeptical about the possibility of explaining creativity. We then survey some of the recent work on creativity that is naturalistic in the sense that it presumes creativity is natural (as opposed to magical, occult, or supernatural) and is therefore amenable to scientific inquiry. This work is divided into two categories. The broader category is empirical philosophy, which draws on empir…Read more
  •  544
    On perceptual expertise
    Mind and Language 36 (2): 241-263. 2021.
    Expertise is a cognitive achievement that clearly involves experience and learning, and often requires explicit, time-consuming training specific to the relevant domain. It is also intuitive that this kind of achievement is, in a rich sense, genuinely perceptual. Many experts—be they radiologists, bird watchers, or fingerprint examiners—are better perceivers in the domain(s) of their expertise. The goal of this paper is to motivate three related claims, by substantial appeal to recent empirical …Read more
  •  460
    Sorting the Senses
    In Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.), Perception and its Modalities, Oxford University Press. pp. 1-19. 2014.
    We perceive in many ways. But several dubious presuppositions about the senses mask this diversity of perception. Philosophers, scientists, and engineers alike too often presuppose that the senses (vision, audition, etc.) are independent sources of information, perception being a sum of these independent contributions. We too often presuppose that we can generalize from vision to other senses. We too often presuppose that vision itself is best understood as a passive receptacle for an image thro…Read more
  •  304
    This chapter concerns the cognitive penetration of the visual experience of colour. Alleged cases of cognitively penetrated colour perception are of special import since they concern an uncontroversial type of visual experience. All theorists of perception agree that colour properties figure properly in the content or presentation of visual perception, even though not all parties agree that pine trees or causes or other "high-level" properties can figure properly in visual content or presentatio…Read more
  •  284
    Perception and Its Modalities (edited book)
    with Mohan Matthen and Stephen Biggs
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    This volume is about the many ways we perceive. Contributors explore the nature of the individual senses, how and what they tell us about the world, and how they interrelate. They consider how the senses extract perceptual content from receptoral information. They consider what kinds of objects we perceive and whether multiple senses ever perceive a single event. They consider how many senses we have, what makes one sense distinct from another, and whether and why distinguishing senses may be us…Read more
  •  251
    Attributing Creativity
    In Berys Gaut & Matthew Kieran (eds.), Creativity and Philosophy, Routledge. 2018.
    Three kinds of things may be creative: persons, processes, and products. The standard definition of creativity, used nearly by consensus in psychological research, focuses specifically on products and says that a product is creative if and only if it is new and valuable. We argue that at least one further condition is necessary for a product to be creative: it must have been produced by the right kind of process. We argue furthermore that this point has an interesting epistemological implicat…Read more
  •  173
    Memory, Imagery, and Self-Knowledge
    Avant: Special Issue-Thinking with Images. forthcoming.
    One distinct interest in self-knowledge concerns whether one can know about one’s own mental states and processes, how much, and by what methods. One broad distinction is between accounts that centrally claim that we look inward for self-knowledge (introspective methods) and those that claim that we look outward for self-knowledge (transparency methods). It is here argued that neither method is sufficient, and that we see this as soon as we move beyond questions about knowledge of one’s beliefs,…Read more
  •  95
    Is perception cognitively penetrable? A philosophically satisfying and empirically testable reframing
    with Gary Lupyan, Fiona Macpherson, Rasha Abdel Rahman, and Robert Goldstone
    Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society 1 91-2. 2013.
    The question of whether perception can be penetrated by cognition is in the limelight again. The reason this question keeps coming up is that there is so much at stake: Is it possible to have theory-neutral observation? Is it possible to study perception without recourse to expectations, context, and beliefs? What are the boundaries between perception, memory, and inference (and do they even exist)? Are findings from neuroscience that paint a picture of perception as an inherently bidirectional …Read more
  •  84
    Review of Susanna Siegel-The Rationality of Perception (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 6 1-2. 2018.
  •  79
    Perceptual skills
    In Ellen Fridland & Carlotta Pavese (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Skill and Expertise, Routledge. 2020.
    This chapter has four parts. I distinguishes some types of perceptual skills and highlights their importance in everyday perception. II identifies a well-studied class of perceptual skills: cases of perceptual expertise. III discusses a less studied possible instance of perceptual skill: picture perception. Finally, IV outlines some important mechanisms underlying perceptual skills, with special emphasis on attention and mental imagery.