My research concerns the nature of perceptual experience and the senses, in particular focusing on: (i) perceptual appearances and representational content; (ii) multisensory perception and the senses; (iii) time-consciousness and the temporal structure of experience. All three themes are combined in my forthcoming Synchronising the Senses project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Cambridge’s New Directions in the Study of the Mind initiative.

In my PhD thesis, I argued that constraints upon our ability to recognise the contents of our experience rule out many apparently plausible accounts of experiential content and phenomenal character, i.e. what perceptual experience is subjectively like, and I have recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Topoi on the subject of Perception Without Representation (see below).

Other research interests include the philosophy of psychology and cognitive science, epistemology of perception, the metaphysics and consciousness of time and temporal passage (on which I wrote my MLitt dissertation), and the work of Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Reid, on whose account of visual perception I have published in The Philosophical Quarterly.

Publications

Are the Senses Silent? Travis’s Argument from Looks, forthcoming in Charles Travis on Language, Thought, and Perception (in press), ed. Tamara Dobler and John Collins, Oxford University Press.

Perception Without Representation, with Roberta Locatelliin guest-edited special issue of Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy 36 (2): 197–212.

Review of Perception: Essays After Frege by Charles Travis for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, April 2014.

Perception and Reality, New Philosopher, 1 (2): 104–7, November 2013.

Reid’s Direct Realism and Visible Figure, The Philosophical Quarterly, 63 (253): 783–803, September 2013.

Does Attention Exist?’, British Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy, 2 (2): 153–68, July 2007.

Under contract

Guest-Edited Special Issue of Topoi on Perception Without Representation

With Roberta Locatelli of the Universities of Tübingen and Friburg. Papers by Bill BrewerBerit BrogaardJérôme Dokic & Jean-Rémy Martin, Naomi EilanIvan V. IvanovJ. A. JudgeM. G. F. MartinMichael O’SullivanCharles Travis, plus our introduction, available via open access, are now online; print publication due in June 2017.

Annotated Bibliography on ‘The Senses’

For Oxford Bibliographies, with Fiona Macpherson of the University of Glasgow.

    Work in progress

    I am currently working on a number of other papers and projects, including:

    Is There an Auditory Field?

    Visual experience is commonly characterised in terms of the presentation of a ‘visual field’, i.e. a spatially structured array of objects, properties or sensations. While the precise nature and geometry of this field are controversial, the existence of an analogous auditory field within which objects of auditory experience are presented is hotly disputed. Indeed, many theorists who accept the existence of the visual field reject the notion of an auditory field on the grounds of phenomenological dissimilarities between vision and audition. In this paper I examine whether scepticism about the auditory field is justified, and what, if anything, this tells us about the spatial structure or content of auditory experiences.

    The Two Senses of Smell

    Philosophers have long debated how we should divide up, or individuate, the senses. Smell provides an interesting test case in that it (a) contrasts with vision, and (b) readily combines with other modalities, such as taste, touch, audition, to produce flavour experiences. In an influential paper, psychologist Paul Rozin (1982) claims that we have not one, but two, senses of smell in the form of ‘orthonasal’ and ‘retronasal’ olfaction. In this paper I consider whether to Rozin’s is best understood as making a claim about type- or token-senses, and to identify the philosophical and empirical grounds upon which we might judge whether humans have one, two, or more olfactory modalities.

    presented an earlier version of this paper at the University of Edinburgh's PPIG seminar.

    Do Visual Experiences Have Representational Content?

    Many philosophers take visual perceptual experience, whatever else it might involve, to be representational. That is, to experience the world as appearing or looking some way is to represent it as being some particular way. Such ‘ways of being’ may be captured in terms of the set of conditions that describes what it would be for the relevant experience to be accurate, or veridical; i.e. its content. According to Siegel (2010), proponents of both representational and relational views of experience are committed to the existence of such content in visual experience on the basis of visual phenomenology alone. In this paper, I argue that Siegel’s ‘Argument from Appearing’ relies upon an equivocation between the presentation of property-types in experience and the presentation of property-instances. Consequently, it is either invalid, or begs the question against the very view of experience it is designed to engage—namely, the relational view—and so should be rejected.

    presented a version of this paper at a workshop in Tübingen on Perception and Reasoning.