Perceiving properties versus perceiving objects

Analytic Philosophy 63 (2):99-117 (2022)
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The fact that you see some particular object seems to be due to the causal relation between your visual experience and that object, rather than to your experiences’ phenomenal character. On the one hand, whenever some phenomenal element of your experience stands in the right sort of causal relation to some object, your experience presents that object (your experience’s phenomenology doesn’t need to match that object). On the other hand, you can’t have a perceptual experience that presents some object unless you stand in the right sort of causal relation to that object (no matter how closely your experience’s phenomenology matches some object). According to the continuity thesis, property perception is similar to object perception in these two respects. A standard reason to reject the continuity thesis is the assumption that the environmental properties that a perceptual experience presents are determined by its phenomenal properties (which are not determined by the environmental properties that cause the experience). I maintain that the continuity thesis is false but for a different reason: perceptual experiences present both objects and properties via manners of presentation; but, whereas perceptual manners of presentation for objects are purely relational, perceptual manners of presentation for properties are satisfactional.

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Boyd Millar
Trent University


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