Does Property-Perception Entail the Content View?

Wilson, Keith A. (in press). ‘Does Property-Perception Entail the Content View?’. Forthcoming in Erkenntnis. DOI: 10.1007/s10670-022-00559-1 (Author preprint)


Visual perception is widely taken to present properties such as redness, roundness, and so on. This in turn might be thought to give rise to accuracy conditions for experience, and so content, regardless of which metaphysical view of perception one endorses.

An influential version of this argument—Susanna Siegel’s ’Argument from Appearing’—aims to establish the existence of content as common ground between representational and relational views of perception. This goes against proponents of ‘austere’ relationalism who deny that content plays a substantive role in philosophical explanations of conscious perceptual experience.

Though Siegel’s argument purports to be neutral with respect to the metaphysics of perception, it relies upon an equivocation between the presentation of property-types and property-instances. Consequently, the argument begs the question against the austere relational view, and so fails to establish the desired conclusion.

So while relationalists can and should allow that experiences have accuracy conditions, it does not follow from this that they have content of any philosophically interesting or significant kind.

I presented this paper at the Perception: Particularity, Content, and Relation workshop, University of Zürich, and Perception and Reasoning workshop, University of Tübingen.

Wilson 2022 - Does Property-Perception Entail the Content View.pdf