• Our Knowledge of Colour
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 27 215-246. 2001.
    Scientists are often bemused by the efforts of philosophers essaying a theory of colour: colour science sports a huge array of facts and theories, and it is unclear to its practitioners what philosophy can or is trying to contribute. Equally, philosophers tend to be puzzled about how they can fit colour science into their investigations without compromising their own disciplinary identity: philosophy is supposed to be an a priori investigation; philosophers do not work in psychophysics labs – no…Read more
  • Introduction
    with Robert Ware
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 20 1-20. 1994.
  •  49
    Aesthetic Value: Why Pleasure Counts
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. forthcoming.
    In this brief contribution to a ten-author symposium on aesthetic value, I make the case for aesthetic hedonism. The aesthetic value of an object is a measure of the benefit that humans realize by cognitive engagement with it. This benefit depends on engaging with it in the right way, that is, in a way that objectively maximizes the benefit. Yet, it is also subjective and individual; the benefit of cognitive engagement with an object depends partially but irreducibly on the subject's receptivity…Read more
  •  144
    Material Objects as the Singular Subjects of External Perception
    In Aleksandra Mroczko-Wąsowicz & Rick Grush (eds.), Sensory individuals: unimodal and multimodal perspectives., Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Higher animals need to identify and track material objects because they depend on interactions with them for nutrition, reproduction, and social interaction. This paper investigates the perception of material objects. It argues, first, that material objects are tagged, in all five external senses, as bearers of the features detected by them. This happens through a perceptual process, here entitled Generalized Completion, which creates the appearance of objects that have properties that transcend…Read more
  •  138
    Multisensory Perception in Philosophy
    with Amber Ross
    Multisensory Research 34 (3): 219-231. 2021.
    This is the editors' Introduction to a special issue of the journal, Multisensory Research. European philosophers of the modern period found multisensory perception to be impossible because they thought that perceptual ideas are defined by how they are experienced. Under this conception, the individual modalities are determinables of ideas—just as colour is a determinable that embraces red and blue, so also the visual is a determinable that embraces colour and (visually experienced) shape. Since…Read more
  •  176
    Food has savour: a collection of properties (including appearance, aroma, mouth-feel) connected with the pleasure (or displeasure) of eating. After explaining this concept, and outlining a theory of aesthetic pleasure, I argue that, like paradigm examples of art, savour can be assessed relative to a culturally determined set of norms. Also like paradigm examples of art, the assessment of savour has no objective basis in the absence of such cultural norms. My argument in this paper is part of a l…Read more
  •  231
    What was Molyneux's Question A Question About?
    In Routledge Handbook on Molyneux's Question, Routledge. forthcoming.
    Molyneux asked whether a newly sighted person could distinguish a sphere from a cube by sight alone, given that she was antecedently able to do so by touch. This, we contend, is a question about general ideas. To answer it, we must ask (a) whether spatial locations identified by touch can be identified also by sight, and (b) whether the integration of spatial locations into an idea of shape persists through changes of modality. Posed this way, Molyneux’s Question goes substantially beyond questi…Read more
  •  342
    Art Forms Emerging: An Approach to Evaluative Diversity in Art
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (3): 303-318. 2020.
    An artwork in one culture and form, say European classical music, cannot be evaluated in the context of another, say Hindustani music. While a person educated in the traditions of European music can rationally evaluate and discuss her response to a string quartet by Beethoven, her response to music in a foreign culture is merely subjective. She might "like" the latter, but her response is merely subjective. In this paper, I discuss the role of artforms: why response can be "objectively" discusse…Read more
  •  204
    Dual Structure of Touch: The Body vs. Peripersonal Space
    In Frédérique de Vignemont (ed.), The World at Our Fingertips, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    The sense of touch provides us knowledge of two kinds of events. Tactile sensation (T) makes us aware of events on or just below the skin; haptic perception (H) gives us knowledge of things outside the body with which we are in contact. This paper argues that T and H are distinct experiences, and not (as some have argued) different aspects of the same touch-experience. In other words, T ≠ H. Moreover, H does not supervene on T. Secondly: In T, we are aware of immanent, phenomenal qualities; in …Read more
  •  112
    Review of Berit Brogaard Seeing and Saying (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201906. 2019.
    Brogaard's book is extremely informative about the grammar of perceptual verbs, and questions that it indicates representationalism (as opposed to naive realism). As useful as this is, I question how much grammar tells us much about perception.
  •  349
    Aristotle held that perception consists in the reception of external sensory qualities (or sensible forms) in the sensorium. This idea is repeated in many forms in contemporary philosophy, including, with regard to vision, in the idea (still not firmly rejected) that the retinal image consists of points of colour. In fact, this is false. Colour is a quality that is constructed by the visual system, and though it is possible to be a realist about colour, it is completely misleading to think of it…Read more
  •  293
    Objects, seeing, and object-seeing
    Synthese 198 (4). 2019.
    Two questions are addressed in this paper. First, what is it to see? I argue that it is veridical experience of things outside the perceiver brought about by looking. Second, what is it to see a material object? I argue that it is experience of an occupant of a spatial region that is a logical subject for other visual features, able to move to another spatial region, to change intrinsically, and to interact with other material objects. I show how this theory is different from the idea that objec…Read more
  •  201
    Ephemeral Vision
    In Thomas Crowther & Clare Mac Cumhaill (eds.), Perceptual Ephemera, Oxford University Press. pp. 312-339. 2018.
    Vision is organized around material objects; they are most of what we see. But we also see beams of light, depictions, shadows, reflections, etc. These things look like material objects in many ways, but it is still visually obvious that they are not material objects. This chapter articulates some principles that allow us to understand how we see these ‘ephemera’. H.P. Grice’s definition of seeing is standard in many discussions; here I clarify and augment it with a criterion drawn from Fred Dre…Read more
  •  233
    Art, Pleasure, Value: Reframing the Questions
    Philosophic Exchange 47 (1). 2018.
    In this essay, I’ll argue, first, that an art object's aesthetic value (or merit) depends not just on its intrinsic properties, but on the response it evokes from a consumer who shares the producer's cultural background. My question is: what is the role of culture in relation to this response? I offer a new account of aesthetic pleasure that answers this question. On this account, aesthetic pleasure is not just a “feeling” or “sensation” that results from engaging with a work of art. It is rathe…Read more
  •  307
    Constructing Aesthetic Value: Responses to My Commentators
    Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1): 100-111. 2017.
    This is a response to invited and submitted commentary on "The Pleasure of Art," published in Australasian Philosophical Reviews 1, 1 (2017). In it, I expand on my view of aesthetic pleasure, particularly how the distinction between facilitating pleasure and relief pleasure works. In response to critics who discerned and were uncomfortable with the aesthetic hedonism that they found in the work, I develop that aspect of my view. My position is that the aesthetic value of a work of art is its cap…Read more
  •  436
    How to Explain Pleasure
    British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (4): 477-481. 2014.
    Stephen Davies’ book The Artful Species is a nuanced and learned attempt to show how evolution does, and does not, account for the human capacity to produce and appreciate beautiful things. In this critical note, his approach to aesthetic pleasure is examined. Aesthetic pleasure, it is argued, is a state that encourages us to continue with our perceptual or intellectual engagement with something. Such pleasure displays a different profile from states that urge us to use an object to satisfy a ne…Read more
  •  119
    Naturalism and Teleology
    Journal of Philosophy 88 (11): 656-657. 1991.
    A brief comment on Mark Bedau's critique of naturalist theories of teleology. A positive account is offered in "Teleology and the Product Analogy".
  •  930
    Many Molyneux Questions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1): 47-63. 2020.
    Molyneux's Question (MQ) concerns whether a newly sighted man would recognize/distinguish a sphere and a cube by vision, assuming he could previously do this by touch. We argue that (MQ) splits into questions about (a) shared representations of space in different perceptual systems, and about (b) shared ways of constructing higher dimensional spatiotemporal features from information about lower dimensional ones, most of the technical difficulty centring on (b). So understood, MQ resists any mo…Read more
  •  518
    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
  •  401
    In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science, Mit Press. 2010.
    The Introduction discusses determinables and similarity spaces and ties together the contributions to Color Ontology and Color Science.
  •  64
    Color Ontology and Color Science (edited book)
    Bradford. 2010.
    Philosophers and scientists have long speculated about the nature of color. Atomists such as Democritus thought color to be "conventional," not real; Galileo and other key figures of the Scientific Revolution thought that it was an erroneous projection of our own sensations onto external objects. More recently, philosophers have enriched the debate about color by aligning the most advanced color science with the most sophisticated methods of analytical philosophy. In this volume, leading scienti…Read more
  •  317
    Perception and Its Modalities (edited book)
    with Dustin Stokes 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
  • Ancient Philosophy and Modern Ideology
    with Charlotte Witt
    Academic Printing and Publishing. 2000.
  •  1
    Reply to Egan and Clark
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2): 415-421. 2008.
  •  3
    Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Précis
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2): 392-399. 2008.