The Structure of Sensorimotor Explanation

Synthese (11):4527-4553 (2018)
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Abstract

The sensorimotor theory of vision and visual consciousness is often described as a radical alternative to the computational and connectionist orthodoxy in the study of visual perception. However, it is far from clear whether the theory represents a significant departure from orthodox approaches or whether it is an enrichment of it. In this study, I tackle this issue by focusing on the explanatory structure of the sensorimotor theory. I argue that the standard formulation of the theory subscribes to the same theses of the dynamical hypothesis and that it affords covering-law explanations. This however exposes the theory to the mere description worry and generates a puzzle about the role of representations. I then argue that the sensorimotor theory is compatible with a mechanistic framework, and show how this can overcome the mere description worry and solve the problem of the explanatory role of representations. By doing so, it will be shown that the theory should be understood as an enrichment of the orthodoxy, rather than an alternative.

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Alfredo Vernazzani
Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum

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