Defending the content view of perceptual experience
This thesis is a defense of the Content View on perceptual experience, of the idea that our perceptual experiences represent the world as being a certain way and so have representational content. Three main issues are addressed in this work. Firstly, I try to show that the Content View fits very well both with the logical behaviour of ordinary ascriptions of seeing-episodes and related experiential episodes, and with our pretheoretical intuitions about what perceiving and experiencing ultimately are: that preliminary analysis speaks for the prima facie plausibility of such a view. Secondly, I put forward a detailed account of perceptual episodes in semantic terms, by articulating and arguing for a specific version of the Content View. I provide arguments for the following theses: Perceptual content is two-layered so it involves an iconic level and a discrete or proto-propositional level (which roughly maps the seeing-as ascriptions in ordinary practices). Perceptual content is singular and object-dependent or de re, so it includes environmental objects as its semantic constituents. The phenomenal character of perceptual experience is co-determined by the represented properties together with the Mode (ex. Visual Mode), but not by the perceived objects: that is what I call an impure representationalism. Perceptual content is 'Russellian': it consists of worldly objects, properties and relations. Both perceptual content and phenomenal character are 'wide' or determined by environmental factors, thus there is no Fregean, narrow perceptual content. Thirdly, I show that such a version of the Content View can cope with the objections which are typically moved against the Content View as such by the advocates of (anti-intentionalist versions of) disjunctivism. I myself put forward a moderately disjunctivist version of the Content View, according to which perceptual relations (illusory or veridical) must be told apart from hallucinations as mental states of a different kind. Such a disjunctivism is 'moderate' insofar as it allows genuinely relational perceptual experiences and hallucinations to share a positive phenomenal character, contrary to what Radical Disjunctivism cum Naïve Realism holds. Showing that the Content View vindicates our pre-theoretical intuitions and does justice of our ordinary ascriptive practices, articulating a detailed and argued version of the Content View, and showing that such a version is not vulnerable to the standard objections recently moved to the Content View by the disjunctive part, all that can be considered as a big, multifaceted Argument for the Content View.