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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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The Sources of Sensory Similarity

The Sources of Sensory Similarity

Chapter:
(p.123) 5 The Sources of Sensory Similarity
Source:
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing
Author(s):

Mohan Matthen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199268509.003.0006

In the Cartesian paradigm, similarity of sensation is explained by the similarity of receptor state; it is shown that this is empirically mistaken. C. R. Gallistel has suggested that sensory similarity reflects topological proximity in a neural feature map; this sort of thesis explains why similarity with respect to a single parameter is invariant (see Ch. 4). The system constructs such maps because it needs to resolve imprecision in neural representations and to determine a precise response to the situations represented. Such internal origins of sensory similarity do not preclude realism. Sense features are physically specifiable; in addition, they serve some purpose in the organism by signalling similarities of functional relevance: thus, it is possible for an organism to be wrong about similarity.

Keywords:   Amos Tversky, C. R. Gallistel, Nelson Goodman, neural maps, nominalism, realism, sensory similarity

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