•  766
    Perceptual Pluralism
    Noûs 54 (4): 807-838. 2020.
    Perceptual systems respond to proximal stimuli by forming mental representations of distal stimuli. A central goal for the philosophy of perception is to characterize the representations delivered by perceptual systems. It may be that all perceptual representations are in some way proprietarily perceptual and differ from the representational format of thought (Dretske 1981; Carey 2009; Burge 2010; Block ms.). Or it may instead be that perception and cognition always trade in the same code (Prinz…Read more
  •  469
    Inferential Transitions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3): 532-547. 2018.
    ABSTRACTThis paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian [2014] calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit t…Read more
  •  455
    Believing in Perceiving: Known Illusions and the Classical Dual‐Component Theory
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (4): 550-575. 2015.
    According to a classic but nowadays discarded philosophical theory, perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual sensory states and full-blown propositional beliefs. This classical dual-component theory of experience is often taken to be obsolete. In particular, there seem to be cases in which perceptual experience and belief conflict: cases of known illusions, wherein subjects have beliefs contrary to the contents of their experiences. Modern dual-component theories reject the belief req…Read more
  •  382
    Iconicity and the Format of Perception
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (3-4): 255-263. 2016.
    According to one important proposal, the difference between perception and cognition consists in the representational formats used in the two systems (Carey, 2009; Burge, 2010; Block, 2014). In particular, it is claimed that perceptual representations are iconic, or image-like, while cognitive representations are discursive, or language-like. Taking object perception as a test case, this paper argues on empirical grounds that it requires discursive label-like representations. These representatio…Read more
  •  360
    Against dispositionalism: belief in cognitive science
    Philosophical Studies 175 (9): 2353-2372. 2018.
    Dispositionalism about belief has had a recent resurgence. In this paper we critically evaluate a popular dispositionalist program pursued by Eric Schwitzgebel. Then we present an alternative: a psychofunctional, representational theory of belief. This theory of belief has two main pillars: that beliefs are relations to structured mental representations, and that the relations are determined by the generalizations under which beliefs are acquired, stored, and changed. We end by describing some o…Read more
  •  349
    Many contemporary epistemologists take rational inference to be a conscious action performed by the thinker (Boghossian 2014; 2018; Valaris 2014; Malmgren 2018). It is tempting to think that rational evaluability requires responsibility, which in turn requires conscious action. In that case, unconscious cognition involves merely associative or otherwise arational processing. This paper argues instead for deep rationalism: unconscious inference often exhibits the same rational status and richly s…Read more
  •  309
    Concepts and predication from perception to cognition
    Philosophical Issues 30 (1): 273-292. 2020.
    Philosophical Issues, EarlyView.
  •  307
    Is Iconic Memory Iconic?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (3): 660-682. 2020.
    Short‐term memory in vision is typically thought to divide into at least two memory stores: a short, fragile, high‐capacity store known as iconic memory, and a longer, durable, capacity‐limited store known as visual working memory (VWM). This paper argues that iconic memory stores icons, i.e., image‐like perceptual representations. The iconicity of iconic memory has significant consequences for understanding consciousness, nonconceptual content, and the perception–cognition border. Steven Gross …Read more
  •  288
    The outlier paradox: The role of iterative ensemble coding in discounting outliers
    with Michael Epstein, Eric Mandelbaum, and Tatiana Emmanouil
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1. forthcoming.
    Ensemble perception—the encoding of objects by their group properties—is known to be resistant to outlier noise. However, this resistance is somewhat paradoxical: how can the visual system determine which stimuli are outliers without already having derived statistical properties of the ensemble? A simple solution would be that ensemble perception is not a simple, one-step process; instead, outliers are detected through iterative computations that identify items with high deviance from the mean a…Read more
  •  191
    Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the…Read more
  •  181
    What is an object file?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    The notion of an object file figures prominently in recent work in philosophy and cognitive science. Object files play a role in theories of singular reference, object individuation, perceptual memory, and the development of cognitive capacities. However, the philosophical literature lacks a detailed, empirically informed theory of object files. In this paper, we articulate and defend the multiple-slots view, which specifies both the format and architecture of object files. We argue that object …Read more
  •  109
    Unconscious perceptual justification
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (5-6): 569-589. 2018.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs. A perceptual experience of a dog justifies the belief that there is a dog present. But there is much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, as in experiments involving masked priming. Do unconscious perceptual states provide justification as well? The answer depends on one’s theory of justification. While most varieties of externalism seem compatible with unconscious perceptual justification, several theories have recently affor…Read more
  •  93
    Polysemy and thought: Toward a generative theory of concepts
    Mind and Language 36 (1): 158-185. 2021.
    Most theories of concepts take concepts to be structured bodies of information used in categorization and inference. This paper argues for a version of atomism, on which concepts are unstructured symbols. However, traditional Fodorian atomism is falsified by polysemy and fails to provide an account of how concepts figure in cognition. This paper argues that concepts are generative pointers, that is, unstructured symbols that point to memory locations where cognitively useful bodies of informatio…Read more
  •  78
    Unconscious perception and phenomenal coherence
    Analysis 79 (3): 461-469. 2019.
    It is an orthodoxy in cognitive science that perception can occur unconsciously. Recently, Hakwan Lau, Megan Peters and Ian Phillips have argued that this orthodoxy may be mistaken. They argue that many purported cases of unconscious perception fail to rule out low degrees of conscious awareness while others fail to establish genuine perception. This paper presents a case of unconscious perception that avoids these problems. It also advances a general principle of ‘phenomenal coherence’ that can…Read more
  •  76
    Attention and encapsulation
    Mind and Language 35 (3): 335-349. 2020.
    The question of whether perception is encapsulated from cognition has been a major topic in the study of perception in the past decade. One locus of debate concerns the role of attention. Some theorists argue that attention is a vehicle for widespread violations of encapsulation; others argue that certain forms of cognitively driven attention are compatible with encapsulation, especially if attention only modulates inputs. This paper argues for an extreme thesis: no effect of attention, whether …Read more
  •  50
    Rationalization is irrational and self-serving, but useful
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43. 2020.
    Rationalization through reduction of cognitive dissonance does not have the function of representational exchange. Instead, cognitive dissonance is part of the “psychological immune system” and functions to protect the self-concept against evidence of incompetence, immorality, and instability. The irrational forms of attitude change that protect the self-concept in dissonance reduction are useful primarily for maintaining motivation.
  •  48
    Was Reid a Direct Realist?
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (2). 2013.
    There are issues in Reid scholarship as well as the primary texts that seem to suggest that Reid is not a direct realist about visual perception. In this paper, I examine two key issues ? colour perception and visible figure ? and attempt to defend the direct realism of Reid's theory through an interpretation of ?directness? as well as what Reid calls ?acquired perception?, which is ?mediate? in that it requires prior perception of signs, but nonetheless constitutes direct perception
  •  33
    Reid's Doxastic Theory of Perception
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    Reid endorsed a doxastic theory of perception, on which beliefs are constituents of perceptual experiences. This theory faces the problem of known illusions: we can perceive that p while believing that not-p. Some scholars argue that the problem of known illusions and other problems entail that Reid’s view cannot be charitably interpreted as a doxastic theory. This paper explores Reid’s theoretical commitments with respect to belief acquisition and uses textual evidence to show that his theory i…Read more
  •  30
    Concept Appraisal
    with Sapphira R. Thorne, Joulia Smortchkova, Nicholas Shea, and James A. Hampton
    Cognitive Science 45 (5). 2021.
    This paper reports the first empirical investigation of the hypothesis that epistemic appraisals form part of the structure of concepts. To date, studies of concepts have focused on the way concepts encode properties of objects and the way those features are used in categorization and in other cognitive tasks. Philosophical considerations show the importance of also considering how a thinker assesses the epistemic value of beliefs and other cognitive resources and, in particular, concepts. We de…Read more
  •  21
    Stand‐Up Comedy, Authenticity, and Assertion
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (4): 477-490. 2020.
    Stand‐up comedy is often viewed in two contrary ways. In one view, comedians are hailed as providing genuine social insight and telling truths. In the other, comedians are seen as merely trying to entertain and not to be taken seriously. This tension raises a foundational question for the aesthetics of stand‐up: Do stand‐up comedians perform genuine assertions in their performances? This article considers this question in the light of several theories of assertion. We conclude that comedians on …Read more