Research

Perceptual architecture

By far, the standard assumption in philosophy and cognitive science is that if perception is malleable, trainable, and rich, then it must be cognitively penetrated. I am attempting to swim against this tide. In previous work I have argued (with Jonathan Cohen) that perception can be rich, interactive, and (in some cases) non-modular without this entialing cognitive penetration. I also argued that, given one plausible distinction between cognition and perception (the "form" distinction), cognitive states are limited in the kinds of influence they can exert on perceptual ones.

In recent work, I have delved more deeply into the phenomenon of perceptual and motor learning. In several recent and in-submission papers, I argue that perceptual learning can result in higher-level perceptual contents, but that this result is not best explained in terms of "diachronic" cognitive penetration. I have also applied this perspective to the ongoing debate surrounding skill and intellectualism. In future work, I plan to mount a more thorough defense of the form distinction, and argue against views that interpret perceptual representations as "iconic" or "map like". I prefer instead what I tentatively call an "extended quality space" view of perceptual representation.

Relevant papers: