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Perception, causation and information

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Campbell, Scott (1993) Perception, causation and information. Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

In this work I answer the question, what is it for a perceiver P to see a
physical object x by having a visual experience E.
First of all, I consider whether a causal connection between x and E is
necessary, and I conclude that it is. I then consider various causal theories of
seeing. The best of these is Michael Tye's 'systematic variation' theory. Tye
holds that P sees x if there is a causal connection between x and E such that
varying certain of x's properties would produce systematic variations in certain
of E's properties.
I show that a deeper explanation of seeing can be given in terms of what I
call 'significant information'. I propose that P sees x when x causes P to have
a visual experience E which provides significant information about x for P. E
provides significant information about x for P when a perceiver of P's kind
can have a sufficient number of determinate true beliefs about x's properties on
the basis of E.
I then argue that there is no one kind of perceiver that P is, and this entails
that whether E provides significant information about x for P depends upon
what kind of perceiver P is being considered as. Thus, whether P sees x is
relative to what kind of perceiver P is being considered as.
I then show that the 'systematic variation' intuition underlying Tye's theory
is wrong. Rejecting this intuition allows me to overcome David Lewis's
'censor' problem, and what I call the 'idle mechanism' problem, which other
causal theories cannot do. Rejecting this intuition also raises some problems for my analysis. I show
that they can be overcome, and in doing so, I show that E provides significant
information about x to P only when it is most likely that there is only a small
range of properties that an object could have such that it could cause E in the
circumstances P is in, and x has such properties.
A problem for all causal theories is that in certain situations they entail that
P sees x when the ordinary person would not hold that P sees x. Rather than
adding conditions to rule out P seeing x in such situations, as Tye attempts, I
argue that we should accept that P sees x in these cases. I go on to show that
we should accept that P sees x by seeing television pictures of x and even
photos of x.
I also consider various other matters related to seeing, and I provide an
account of illusion and hallucination and strong and weak seeing. Finally, I reevaluate
the importance of seeing to epistemology.

Item Type: Thesis (Unspecified)
Keywords: Perception (Philosophy), Visual perception, Causation
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1993 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 129-140)

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:42
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2016 03:40
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