On perceptual expertise

Mind and Language 36 (2):241-263 (2021)
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Expertise is a cognitive achievement that clearly involves experience and learning, and often requires explicit, time-consuming training specific to the relevant domain. It is also intuitive that this kind of achievement is, in a rich sense, genuinely perceptual. Many experts—be they radiologists, bird watchers, or fingerprint examiners—are better perceivers in the domain(s) of their expertise. The goal of this paper is to motivate three related claims, by substantial appeal to recent empirical research on perceptual expertise: Perceptual expertise is genuinely perceptual and genuinely cognitive, and this phenomenon reveals how we can become epistemically better perceivers. These claims are defended against sceptical opponents that deny significant top-down or cognitive effects on perception, and opponents who maintain that any such effects on perception are epistemically pernicious.
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