Are visuomotor representations cognitively penetrable? Biasing action-guiding vision

Synthese (Suppl 17):1-19 (2018)
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Is action-guiding vision cognitively penetrable? More specifically, is the visual processing that guides our goal-directed actions sensitive to semantic information from cognitive states? This paper critically examines a recent family of arguments whose aim is to challenge a widespread and influential view in philosophy and cognitive science: the view that action-guiding vision is cognitively impenetrable. I argue, in response, that while there may very well be top–down causal influences on action-guiding vision, they should not be taken to be an instance of cognitive penetration. Assuming otherwise is to assign a computational role to the influencing states that they cannot perform. Although questions about cognitive penetrability are ultimately empirical, the issues addressed in this paper are largely philosophical. The discussion here highlights an important set of considerations that help better understand the relations between cognition, vision, and action.

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Josefa Toribio
Universitat de Barcelona


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