Restricted Auditory Aspatialism

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Some philosophers have argued that we do not hear sounds as located in the environment. Others have objected that this straightforwardly contradicts the phenomenology of auditory experience. And from this they draw metaphysical conclusions about the nature of sounds—that they are events or properties of vibrating surfaces rather than waves or sensations. I argue that there is a minimal, but recognizable, notion of audition to which this phenomenal objection does not apply. While this notion doesn’t correspond to our ordinary notion of auditory experience, it does—in conjunction with our lack of an uncontroversial individuation of the senses and recent interest in distinctively multisensory features of perceptual experiences—raise the possibility of more expansive notions of audition, including some that do plausibly count as corresponding to our everyday notion of audition, that lack the spatial phenomenology cited in the objection. Until this possibility is ruled out, the phenomenal objection and metaphysical conclusions drawn from it remain inconclusive.

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Douglas Wadle
University of Kansas


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