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Sensory Modalities and Novel Features of Perceptual Experience

Wadle, Douglas (2020) Sensory Modalities and Novel Features of Perceptual Experience. [Preprint]


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Is the flavor of mint reducible to the minty smell, the taste, and the menthol-like coolness on the roof of one’s mouth, or does it include something over and above these – something not properly associated with any one of the contributing senses? More generally, are there features of perceptual experiences – so-called novel features – that are not associated with any of our senses taken singly? This question has received a lot of attention of late. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question of what it means to say that a feature is associated with a sensory modality in the first place. Indeed, there is only one fully developed proposal in the literature, due to Casey O’Callaghan. I argue that this proposal is too permissive to inform the debate over novel features. I go on to argue that all attempts to formulate a better proposal along these lines fail. The corollary of my arguments is that the question of the existence of novel features is poorly formed. Furthermore, the problem generalizes, with the result that we should not rely on our pre-theoretical notions of the senses as the basis of theorizing about the features (contents and phenomenal character) of perceptual experiences.

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Item Type: Preprint
Wadle, DouglasC.0000-0002-6713-2919
Keywords: multisensory perception; philosophy of perception; philosophy of cognitive science,; cross-modal illusions; multisensory integration; individuating the senses
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
Depositing User: Douglas Wadle
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2020 02:00
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2020 02:00
Item ID: 17370
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
Date: May 2020

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