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Seeing, Doing, and KnowingA Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception$
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Mohan Matthen

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199268509.001.0001

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Sense Experience

Sense Experience

(p.235) 10 Sense Experience
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing

Mohan Matthen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role and character of sensory experience. Sensory classification can lead to action by means of direct manipulation of the effector system; when this is so, the output of the sensory system must be causally apt to coerce the effector system. However, either when a sensory system feeds into many effector systems, or when many sensory systems feed into a single effector, it is simpler for the sensory systems to be non-coercive. Their output will simply signal that a particular situation obtains, leaving the effector system to do whatever it determines to be appropriate. In order to issue such signals, non-coercive systems need as many signs as there are response-demanding situations. In conscious systems, sensory qualia play this role. In the sense developed by David Lewis, it is a matter of convention which quale attaches to which state of affairs. The conventionality of sensory content is overlooked by philosophers who allege an Aexplanatory gap@ with regard to sensory qualia.

Keywords:   consciousness, convention, David Lewis, explanatory gap, meaning, qualia, representation, sensation, sensory content, sensory response, signalling theory, teleosemantics

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