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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

Chapter:
(p.235) 10 Sense Experience
Source:
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing
Author(s):

Mohan Matthen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199268509.003.0011

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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