Believing in Perceiving: Known Illusions and the Classical Dual‐Component Theory

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (4):550-575 (2015)
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Abstract

According to a classic but nowadays discarded philosophical theory, perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual sensory states and full-blown propositional beliefs. This classical dual-component theory of experience is often taken to be obsolete. In particular, there seem to be cases in which perceptual experience and belief conflict: cases of known illusions, wherein subjects have beliefs contrary to the contents of their experiences. Modern dual-component theories reject the belief requirement and instead hold that perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual sensory states and some other sort of conceptual state. The most popular modern dual-component theory appeals to sui generis propositional attitudes called ‘perceptual seemings’. This article argues that the classical dual-component theory has the resources to explain known illusions without giving up the claim that the conceptual components of experience are beliefs. The classical dual-component view, though often viewed as outdated and implausible, should be regarded as a serious contender in contemporary debates about the nature of perceptual experience.

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Jake Quilty-Dunn
Washington University in St. Louis

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