Mental imagery: pulling the plug on perceptualism

Philosophical Studies 178 (12):3847-3868 (2021)
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What is the relationship between perception and mental imagery? I aim to eliminate an answer that I call perceptualism about mental imagery. Strong perceptualism, defended by Bence Nanay, predictive processing theorists, and several others, claims that imagery is a kind of perceptual state. Weak perceptualism, defended by M. G. F. Martin and Matthew Soteriou, claims that mental imagery is a representation of a perceptual state, a view sometimes called The Dependency Thesis. Strong perceptualism is to be rejected since it misclassifies imagery disorders and abnormalities as perceptual disorders and abnormalities. Weak Perceptualism is to be rejected since it gets wrong the aim and accuracy conditions of a whole class of mental imagery–projected mental imagery–and relies on an impoverished concept of perceptual states, ignoring certain of their structural features. Whatever the relationship between perception and imagery, the perceptualist has it wrong.

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Dan Cavedon-Taylor
Open University (UK)


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