Conscious vision guides motor action—rarely

Philosophical Psychology 36 (3):443-476 (2023)
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According to Milner and Goodale’s dual visual systems (DVS) theory, a division obtains between visual consciousness and motor action, in that the visual system producing conscious vision (the ventral stream) is distinct from the one guiding action (the dorsal stream). That there would be this division is often taken (by Andy Clark and others) to undermine the folk view on how consciousness and action relate. However, even if this division obtains, this leaves open the possibility that con- scious ventral information is often transmitted to the uncon- scious dorsal stream and then used to guide action, a possibility seeming to preserve a significant role for consciousness in action. This article assesses this possibility. In course of doing so, we will review those arguments recently having been made against the DVS view on how visual consciousness and action relate (ones due to, e.g., Briscoe and Schwenkler, or Schenk and McIntosh). What we will find is that, if we properly analyze the data upon which these arguments are based, we are still left with the impression that the DVS view is largely correct; i.e., it is only rarely that visual experience guides action.

Author's Profile

Benjamin Kozuch
University of Alabama


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