I am currently involved in the following externally funded research projects:
Perceiving Representations: A Study of Structural Commonalities Between Language, Pictures and Music, University of Oslo, funded by the Research Council of Norway (Forskningsrådet)
Realism about perceptual perspective: A relational account of perspectival character
Perception is often characterised as an experience of how the world is ‘here’ and ‘now’, i.e. from the subject’s perspective or point of view. Indeed, visual and other sensory experience are permeated by situation-dependent features including spatial perspective, orientation, lighting, auditory, tactual, and other environmental conditions. How can we explain the distinctive contribution of these perspectival features to the qualitative character of perceptual experience?
In this paper I develop a novel realist view of perspectival character according to which these features are
mind-independent relations between the perceiver and elements presented, and
partly constitutive of the phenomenal character of experience.
This yields a simple but powerful explanation of a wide variety of perspectival effects across multiple sensory modalities that compares favourably with existent intentionalist and Naïve Realist views, and in particular with Schellenberg’s representational view, and Campbell and Brewer’s view of perception as a three-place relation between subject, object, and a point of view or ‘standpoint’.pbell and Brewer’s view of perception as a three-place relation between subject, object, and a point of view.
The problem of temporal grain: Experiencing time across the senses
Perceptual experience, unlike remembering or imagining, is characteristically an experience of how things are ‘now’ in the present. However, each sensory modality — vision, hearing, touch, etc. — operates on a slightly different timescale, with differing transmission times, processing lag, and temporal resolution.
The existence of distinct periodicities in reaction times and inter-sensory binding suggests that perceptual processing is not uniform or continuous, but divided into a series of discrete intervals, or temporal windows. Indeed, recent studies point to the existence of a range of such windows with differing temporal and functional characteristics, creating a complex temporal hierarchy. A satisfactory view of temporal experience must accommodate the existence of such ‘temporal grain’, creating a prima facie problem for views which assume that perceptual or other types of experience are uniform and arbitrarily divisible over time.
In this paper I examine the implications of this granular structure for intentionalist and extensionalist views of temporal experience, concluding that both require revision in order to accommodate the temporal structure of experience across multiple sensory modalities.
Meeting Travis’s Challenge: How we recognize the contents of perceptual experience
In ‘The Silence of the Senses’, Charles Travis sets out an argument against the philosophical and scientific orthodoxy that perceptual experiences have representational content. Though widely discussed, few representationalists have directly engaged with the substance of Travis’s arguments, which concern the availability of perceptual content for first-personal thought and reasoning, rather than its individuation or structure.
In this paper, I set out a novel response to Travis’s Challenge that posits the existence of recognitional capacities that are distinct from, though systematically linked to, perceptual representation and the conceptual capacities that are operative in judgement. Crucially, such capacities are themselves shaped by successive exposure to perceptual stimuli over time, which in turn explains why perception and judgement share common or systematically related contents without overly constraining the kinds of properties that can be represented in perception.
This fills an important lacuna in existing representationalist accounts, offering a philosophically and empirically plausible response to Travis’s Challenge.