Implications of Intensional Perceptual Ascriptions for Relationalism, Disjunctivism, and Representationalism About Perceptual Experience

Erkenntnis 84 (2):381-408 (2017)
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Abstract

This paper aims to shed new light on certain philosophical theories of perceptual experience by examining the semantics of perceptual ascriptions such as “Jones sees an apple.” I start with the assumption, recently defended elsewhere, that perceptual ascriptions lend themselves to intensional readings. In the first part of the paper, I defend three theses regarding such readings: I) intensional readings of perceptual ascriptions ascribe phenomenal properties, II) perceptual verbs are not ambiguous between intensional and extensional readings, and III) intensional perceptual ascriptions have a relational form. The second part of the paper describes the implications of I-III for theories of perceptual experience. I argue that I-III support and reconcile the three main views of perceptual experience, relationalism, disjunctivism, and representationalism. However, I-III leave open at least one important point of contention: particularism, the view that we experience external objects. I conclude by exploring the implications of accepting or denying particularism given I-III.

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David Bourget
University of Western Ontario

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