A Philosophically Neutral Semantics for Perception Sentences

Theoria 88:532-544 (2021)
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Jaakko Hintikka proposed treating objectual perception sentences, such as “Alice sees Bob,” as de re propositional perception sentences. Esa Saarinen extended Hintikka’s idea to eventive perception sentences, such as “Alice sees Bob smile.” These approaches, elegant as they may be, are not philosophically neutral, for they presuppose, controversially, that the content of all perceptual experiences is propositional in nature. The aim of this paper is to propose a formal treatment of objectual and eventive perception sentences that builds on Hintikka’s modal approach to propositional attitude ascriptions while avoiding controversial assumptions on the nature of perceptual experiences. Despite being simple and theoretically frugal, our approach is powerful enough to express a variety of interesting philosophical views about propositional, objectual, and eventive perception sentences, thus enabling the study of their inferential relationships.

Author Profiles

Samuele Iaquinto
University of Eastern Piedmont
Giuseppe Spolaore
University of Padua


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