Folk intuitions about the causal theory of perception

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (2016)
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Abstract

It is widely held by philosophers not only that there is a causal condition on perception but also that the causal condition is a conceptual truth about perception. One influential line of argument for this claim is based on intuitive responses to a style of thought experiment popularized by Grice. Given the significance of these thought experiments to the literature, it is important to see whether the folk in fact respond to these cases in the way that philosophers assume they should. We test folk intuitions regarding the causal theory of perception by asking our participants to what extent they agree that they would ‘see’ an object in various Gricean scenarios. We find that the intuitions of the folk do not strongly support the causal condition; they at most strongly support a ‘no blocker’ condition. We argue that this is problematic for the claim that the causal condition is a conceptual truth.

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