Cognitive penetration and the perceptual representation of high-level properties




Piatti, Katherine Anne

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In recent years, two of the most popular debates in the philosophy of perception have been about whether there’s cognitive penetration and whether high-level properties are represented in our perceptual experiences. My dissertation concerns both of those debates. In the first paper, I argue that the debates about cognitive penetration and the perceptual representation of high-level properties are related. Namely, there has to be cognitive penetration for it to be plausible that our perceptual experiences represent high-level properties. In the second paper, I add to the literature challenging the alleged empirical evidence for cognitive penetration. I focus, in particular, on studies purportedly finding that (direct) influence from subjects cognitive states had altered their perceptual experiences over time. I argue those studies provide empirical evidence of perceptual adaptation, not cognitive penetration. In the third paper, I argue the view that our visual experiences represent high-level properties is unmotivated and I argue the explanation for how we come to perceptually represent high-level properties is implausible



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