Research

Work in progress

Papers and projects in progress include the following.

Research projects

Does Property-Perception Entail 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.

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

The 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.

Orthonasal and Retronasal Olfaction

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.

I presented a version of this paper at the University of Edinburgh's PPIG seminar (see below).