Does Loudness Represent Sound Intensity? (Preprint)

Synthese 200 (2):1-27 (2022)
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In this paper I challenge the widely held assumption that loudness is the perceptual correlate of sound intensity. Drawing on psychological and neuroscientific evidence, I argue that loudness is best understood not as a representation of any feature of a sound wave, but rather as a reflection of the salience of a sound wave representation; loudness is determined by how much attention a sound receives. Loudness is what I call a quantitative character, a species of phenomenal character that is determined by the amount of attention that an underlying perceptual representation commands. I distinguish quantitative from qualitative character; even qualitative characters that represent degrees of sensible magnitudes are phenomenally and functionally distinct from quantitative characters. A bifurcated account of phenomenal character emerges; the phenomenal is not exhausted by the qualitative.

Author's Profile

Kim Soland
University of Kansas


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