Naive Realism without Disjunctivism about Experience

Presenter: Matthew Conduct, Durham University, UK

Commentator 1: Michelle Montague, University of Bristol

Commentator 2: Susanna Siegel, Harvard University

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15 Comments

  1. Hi there.

    Before responding to the commentators I would like to thank Richard for all his hard work in making this happen. I am a little unsure of how everything works but am really excited about all this and think it is a really good idea. May there be many more online conferences!

    I’d also like to thank Susanna and Michelle for their comments on my paper, and I am sure that my paper will improve because of them.

  2. Responses to Michelle Montague’s comments

    (1) I probably wasn’t clear about the constraints that the possibility of causally matching perfect non-perceptual experience places upon any account of perceptual experience. Given that the physical basis of the non-perceptual experience occurs as a part of the physical basis of the perceptual experience, and given that the physical basis of the non-perceptual experience is sufficient for the occurrence of the presentation of an actual entity of some kind in experience, then the perceptual experience must also involve the presentation of an actual entity of the same kind. What the disjunctivist about experience claims (at least in the form I am proposing) is that while the objects of experience in the perceptual case are of the same kind as the objects of experience in the non-perceptual case (they are universals), there are also objects of experience that are of a kind that the objects of non-perceptual experience do not belong (particulars). The trick is then to say how presentation of universals in the perceptual case does not get in the way of presentation of the particulars which instantiate those universals.

    (2) I think that there is a reason to regard the objects of non-perceptual experience as mind-independent, in that it is only if we do so that we can really render intelligible that the experience is truly presentational, and hence relational, in nature.

    (3) I think that you are right that:

    (a) it is not clear why the strategy for positing mind independent objects of non-perceptual experience is not under motivated, if the naïve realist goes for the option of claiming that such objects are generated out of the physical basis of the occurrence of non-perceptual experience. One could of course say that the motivation I give in (2) above is enough, but I think that this could be correctly responded to by saying that, rather than giving a reason for supporting a relational picture of experience in which the objects of experience are mind independent, it does in fact give a reason to reject any relational view of non-perceptual experience.

    (b) it is not clear how uninstantiated universals could be so generated, especially if we think that such entities are abstract (do not exist in space or time) and do not enter into causal relations.

    I propose, then, that both these issues could be resolved by adopting the first of the strategies that Martin rejects, but in a slightly modified form. The strategy as Martin presents it is to claim that every kind of non-normal object exists in every place, so that when the conditions sufficient for experience are brought about, it is guaranteed that there is an appropriate object for the subject to be aware of. But if we thought that the objects of non-perceptual experience were uninstantiated universals, and these were construed as abstract entities with no spatio-temporal existence, then we would not be saying that the world is filled with non-normal objects in the kind of absurd way that Martin pictures. Rather, the physical basis of non-perceptual experience is sufficient to make us aware of these abstract entities (the awareness would be spatio-temporally located, but not the entities themselves). And we might think that this is not under motivated, in as much as any account which maintains the existence of uninstantiated universals has a motivation. The existence of such entities is not be appealed to solely to answer a problem in the philosophy of perception. So this might answer the concern that this picture of non-perceptual experience is undermotivated.

    This approach would also mean that we no longer have to talk about uninstantiated universals being generated out of the physical basis of non-perceptual experience. Instead, what the naïve realist would say is that the physical basis is sufficient to present us with universals that are not instantiated in anything present in experience.

    This is a major change to the paper, but I now think it should be the way that a naïve realist considering this sort of strategy should go.

    (4) It is not obvious to me that when we reflect upon the objects of experience that they appear to be entities belonging to any particular ontological category. Does it really seem that I am presented with property bearing particulars? If this were the case then any metaphysical views that denied the existence of such particulars would be flying in the face of what is experientially obvious to us. It does seem that I am presented with something in experience, that there is an entity that belongs to some metaphysical category that I am acquainted with in experience. But whether these are universals, objects in the sense of property bearing particulars, tropes, or whatever, it is not so clear to me that experience delivers a verdict about this. One could also accept that experience appears presentational of the things in the world – that it seems as if it is tables and chairs and mountains and so on that one is aware of. But this is not to say that it appears presentational of objects in the metaphysical sense. Maybe tables, chairs, mountains and so on are bundles of universals, or tropes. Experience doesn’t have anything to say about this.

    (5) Can the naïve realist who adopts this strategy avoid rendering perceptual experience indirect? I think that they can, because one is not aware of the things in the world by being aware of the universals that they instantiate – at least, not in any objectionable way that puts the concrete things in the world behind any ‘veil of universals’ or something like that.

    The naïve realist could give the following kind of story, which commits them to there being universals,objects, and tropes.

    The object of experience is that which is present in experience. It is something that is available for immediate demonstrative reference by the experiencing subject. And the naïve realist tales this to be some existing thing that is present in experience.

    Sam sees a red apple. So the apple and its properties are present in Sam’s experience. Sam is presented with the redness of the apple. Sam cannot be presented with the redness of the apple without being presented with the universal redness. But nevertheless what is present to him, what is immediately available to him for demonstrative reference, is the redness of the apple. And the redness of the apple is not something that gets in the way of the apple. It is separate from the apple only in the sense that we can separate the two in thought – it is an abstract particular, or a trope. To be aware of the trope is to be aware of the apple. We are not aware of the apple by being aware of the trope. And if we are aware of the trope, the redness of the apple, we are aware of the universal, redness.

  3. Responses to Susanna Siegel’s comments

    (1) For the disjunctivist about the objects of experience, there is a significant difference between perceptual and non-perceptual experience in that perceptual experience is a relation between subject and the things in the world around them. The benefits of such an account are the benefits of any naïve realist construal of perceptual experience. There is a metaphysical benefit, in that it gives a simpler view of the metaphysical make up of perception compared to non-naïve accounts. There is an epistemic benefit (arguably), in that it makes accounts of object directed thought more straightforward and is in a better position to explain epistemic access to the world. There is a phenomenological benefit, in that it respects the reflective support for perceptual experience being presentational in nature. It has all of these benefits because the objects of experience are the objects of perception, and they are presented to us in experience. So I don’t think that the benefits of naïve realism come from disjunctivism about experience, but from the peculiar way it conceives of perceptual experience.

    Non-perceptual experience, on the other hand, is a relation between subject and things that aren’t in the world around them. But it has the same nature as perceptual experience – it is a relation between subject and some object such that that object is apprehended by the subject or present to them. What is different between the perceptual and the non-perceptual case is that which is present in experience. According to the line of thought that I am pursuing here, as well as the universals that are present in causally matching non-perceptual experience, there are also things that instantiate those universals present in perceptual experience.

    I think that the naïve realist should not be a disjunctivist about experience because I think that the kind of disjunctivism required in order to answer the causal argument from hallucination is some form of Martin’s epistemic disjunctivism which, for a variety of reasons, I regard as unworkable. I take the dialectic to be as follows – If the naïve realist needs to be a disjunctivist about experience then they need to be an epistemic disjunctivist. Epistemic disjunctivism is a dead end. So the naïve realist needs to argue that they don’t need to be disjunctivists about experience.

    (2) I think the sort of veridical illusion scenario you describe should be taken as placing a constraint upon any satisfactory account of perceptual experience. Any such account must have the resources to explain the difference between misperceiving something as being a certain way when it is that way, and properly perceiving something as being a certain way when it is that way. And the naïve realist can do this by claiming that in the latter case the trope possessed by the object that we see is what we are presented with, while in the former case it is not. But we are aware of the same universals in both cases.

    I agree that this does not provide a motivation for this kind of picture, but I think that the motivation for naïve realism derives from the metaphysical, phenomenological and epistemic considerations I mentioned above.

  4. Thanks for the interesting paper! I just wanted to follow up on your response to Susanna’s question about whether Naïve Realism is well-motivated. As I see it, all but one of the motivations you offered in reply are motivations for Direct Realism, of which Naïve Realism is just one species. (By ‘Direct Realism’ I mean the view that in perceptual experience, mind-independent objects are “directly” perceived, i.e., not perceived by way of more “immediate” perception of something else like a mind-dependent sense-datum.) For instance, the Representational View, on which experience consists in the subject perceptually representing a proposition to the effect that her environment is a certain way, is another species of Direct Realism. Arguably, it captures the epistemological and phenomenological benefits you mention in virtue of maintaining that the mind-independent objects of perception are directly perceived. It’s true that it offers a more complicated account of the metaphysics of perceptual experience: in addition to perception of mind-independent entities, it postulates a relation of perceptual representation borne to propositions. However, there’s room to argue that this little bit of excess in our account of the metaphysics of experience pays off in parsimony when it comes to our metaphysics of the rest of the world.

    For example, in the course of elaborating your Naïve Realist account of experience, you commit yourself to uninstantiated universals and tropes. It’s a matter of some controversy whether such entities exist. Thus, if we can’t give good reasons to believe in them that are *independent* of our account of experience, then arguably we shouldn’t commit ourselves to them in our account of experience if we can avoid doing so. And it seems that we *can* avoid doing so—instead of saying that hallucinatory experience involves *perception* of uninstantiated universals, we can say that it involves perceptual *representation* of properties, whatever they are exactly (i.e., without taking a stance on their nature). Of course, the claim that any sort of mental state consists in the subject representing propositions comes with its own metaphysical baggage (e.g., the existence of propositions, the burden of offering an acceptable theory of intentionality). But this is the sort of baggage that most people have already committed to carrying anyway (e.g., those who think that belief in representational in this sense).

    Also, I’m not very comfortable with the idea that we can *perceive* uninstantiated universals. As I understand it, perception is a relation that can be borne only to entities in the subject’s environment, and the only way I can make sense of the idea of a property being in an environment is for it to be instantiated by something in that environment (e.g., an object, a region of space). Since you and Johnston are proposing that we can perceive uninstantiated properties, it’s not clear to me that you mean what I mean (and what I suspect many others mean) by ‘perception’…

  5. Hi, interesting paper and discussion. Just wanted to make a few very small points on Heather’s criticism of the claim that in the hallucinatory case we perceive uninstantiated universals.

    First, I agree, and for what it’s worth I’d just like add an argument (because I’m not sure about the argument based on the claim that one can only perceive things in one’s environment): it seems plausible that you can only visually perceive extended things, or at least things that look extended. Uninstantiated universals neither are, nor look, extended.

    Second: a positive suggestion: of course, Matthew might simply respond by saying that in the hallucinatory case we perceive* uninstantiated universals, where ‘perceive*’ is a kind of theoretical term of the theory. In that case, one potential argument for the view is lost: because now it does not accommodate the Pricean intuition that even in hallucination there is something one really perceives or sees – something one is presented with in that sense. But there are other potential arguments for this view of hallucination (e. g. based on the fact that hallucination can give us knowledge of supersaturated red, it is part of the best form of naive realism, etc.). (Btw, the present account of hallucination is of course very similar to a standard intentionalist account.)

    Third, a very vague positive suggestion: in his ‘Objective Minds’ paper at p. 263, Johnston seems to say that in the hallucinatory case we are aware of qualities, which he takes to be importantly different from properties. They are more ‘concrete’ than properties. In the hallucinatory case, the property gets to be an object of attention by abstraction from the more concrete quality. Now, one might think that, since this quality is ‘more concrete’, it is less objectionable to say it is perceived, than it is to say that an uninstantiated property is perceived. Of course, the problem is: what is the quality? Is it located even in the hallucinatory case? In that case, the view faces the same problems as sense datum theory.

  6. Thanks everyone for the interesting paper and comments.

    I wanted to ask about the naive realist’s motivation for rejecting disjunctivism, if that’s ok.

    In response to Susanna Siegel, Matthew says that the naive realist should reject disjunctivism because i) only Martin’s epistemic disjunctivism can handle the causal argument from hallucination, and ii) epistemic disjunctivism is mistaken.

    I think (i) here is questionable. As I understand it, the conclusion of the causal argument from hallucination (CAH) which Martin discusses is this:

    (CAH) Whatever the fundamental psychological nature of a causally matching hallucination, the veridical experience it matches has that nature too.

    Martin argues that epistemic disjunctivism is well placed to accommodate CAH. On the epistemic theory, the fundamental psychological nature of a causally matching hallucination is constituted by its having the following indiscriminability property: it’s not possible to know, just by reflecting introspectively on it, that it’s not the matching veridical experience. If the theory is correct, and if CAH is true, it follows that the veridical experience in question also has this indiscriminability property. But this consequence is one that everyone should in any case accept, Martin thinks, as it’s surely in any case true that veridical experiences are introspectively indiscriminable from themselves in this sense.

    But there’s nothing in Martin’s argument, as far as I can tell, which rules out the possibility that some *other* form of disjunctivism might also be able to accommodate CAH. And it seems to me that such an alternative form of disjunctivism is indeed available. Consider a theory on which the fundamental psychological nature of a causally matching hallucination is constituted by its having the following property: it is such that it would be rational to judge, were the judgement based just on introspective reflection on the experience, that it is the matching veridical experience. If this theory is correct, and if CAH is true, it follows that the veridical experience in question is such that it would be rational to judge, were the judgement based just on introspective reflection on the experience, that it is itself. But this consequence is also one that everyone should in any case accept, it seems to me.

    So in my view, there’s a rival form of disjunctivism which can handle CAH just as well as the epistemic form of the view. In order to motivate the naive realist’s rejection of disjunctivism, therefore, it seems to me that one has to do more than show the epistemic theory to be mistaken.

  7. Hi there. Thanks for the comments!

    Heather –

    I am not sure that the sort of direct realism the intentionalist offers respects the phenomenologically supported claim that perceptual experience is presentational in nature – that in experience we are presented with actually existing entities. Also, to use a distinction made by Foster, the intentionalist you describe thinks of perception as perceptually direct but psychologically mediated, in that the experiences we enjoy when perceiving are not, in themselves, perceptual. The naïve realist, on the other hand, in conceiving of perceptual experience as a relation between subject and the objects of perception, thinks that the nature of the experience itself is sufficient for perceptual contact. And it is this form of immediacy, rather than perceptual immediacy, that gives naïve realism its epistemic advantages over its non-naïve alternatives.

    Is it so wrong if a response to a problem in the philosophy of perception results in a commitment to a metaphysical position? There are reasons for believing in uninstantiated universals other than this, and so it is not just a cooked up metaphysics wheeled in to solve the problem.

    I am also not sure why it cannot be the very same relation that we stand in to uninstantiated universals as we stand in to things in the world around us. I am not sure how much of the trouble over this is about clashes of intuition, rather than anything more substantial.

    Adam –

    In claiming that perceptual and non-perceptual experiences are the same kind of thing, I definitely want to reject the claim that it is a different relation, perceiving* that we stand in to the objects of non-perceptual experience. So I have to reject the claim that we can only stand in this relation to extended things, as things in the world are extended and universals are not, but we can stand in the same relation of apprehension or acquaintance to both. So I am going to need some reason for thinking that it is not possible to stand in the same relation to both kinds of entity.

    It is also not clear to me that the things that I stand in this relation to must appear extended. If I take seriously the idea that the colour of the apple I see is amongst the objects of my experience, I don’t see why I must think that it appears extended. It might be the case that it must appear instantiated, but not that it appears extended. I see a round red apple. The apple appears extended, and the roundness and the redness appear instantiated. Does this not capture how things appear to me?

    Charlie –

    I thought the main point of Martin’s epistemic disjunctivism was that it gave an account of hallucinatory experience according to which it had no positive (psychological) properties which might get in the way of the special properties that the naïve realist conceives of perceptual experience as having. And so hallucinatory experience only has the negative property of not being discriminable from perceptual experience.

    I am not sure if the property of being such that it would be rational to judge that it is a perceptual experience of such and such a kind could satisfy this. What makes it rational to make this judgement? If it is some positive property accessible to introspection then when we generalise to the good case wouldn’t this get in the way of any supposed naïve properties present in the good case? If it is not any positive property why is it rational to make that judgement? It must be based on something, if it is to be considered rational. Wouldn’t it be irrational to make the judgement based on nothing?

  8. Hi again. Just a quick follow-up on the point I raised.

    As I see Martin’s project, he is looking for some property, P, of which two things are independently plausible:

    i) Causally matching hallucinations have P.

    ii) The matching veridical experiences also have P, but non-fundamentally.

    Martin thinks that as a naive realist, he should say that causally matching hallucinations have some such property P fundamentally. The reason is that this will allow him to accommodate an acceptance of the causal argument from hallucination (CAH in my previous comment) without jeopardizing his ability to say what, qua naïve realist, he needs to say about the fundamental nature of veridical experience.

    Martin thinks that the kind of indiscriminability properties which he describes fit the bill nicely: it’s independently plausible both that causally matching hallucinations have such properties, and that the matching veridical experiences have them non-fundamentally.

    I agree with that, but I think that the same is true of the kind of rational judgement properties that I describe. In particular, I think it’s just as independently plausible that:

    i) A causally matching hallucination is such that it would be rational to judge, were the judgement based just on introspective reflection on the experience, that it is the matching veridical experience.

    ii) The matching veridical experience is non-fundamentally such that it would be rational to judge, were the judgement based just on introspective reflection on the experience, that it is itself.

    As this point, the rational judgement form of disjunctivism faces the following objection: although it’s independently plausible to credit causally matching hallucinations with the relevant kind of rational judgement properties, it’s not independently plausible to credit them with those properties fundamentally.

    I agree that that’s an important objection which the rational judgement theory must face. Equally, though, epistemic disjunctivism faces an analogous objection: although it’s independently plausible to credit causally matching hallucinations with the relevant kind of indiscriminability properties, it’s not independently plausible to credit them with those properties fundamentally.

    I don’t see any reason to think that the rational judgement theory is worse placed to answer its objection than epistemic disjunctivism is to answer the analogous objection. (In fact, I think it’s significantly better placed, but that’s another story.)

  9. Hi Matthew, thanks for the response. You write “The apple appears extended, and the roundness and the redness appear instantiated. Does this not capture how things appear to me?” Well, when I look at an apple, the apple before me looks a certain way to me. But it seems very strange to me to suggest that the abstract object *being red* (which, on the kind of ante rem view goes most naturally with your view, is not located before me) also looks a certain way to me, viz. instantiated-by-the-apple. (Btw, by my lights, maybe it’s ok to say that you see the redness of the apple, the property-instantiation. Because that’s a concrete thing that might take up space.) Now turn to the hallucinatory case that was my concern. Here the view is that one sees the uninstantiated property, *being red* – which is not red, not extended, not located. You said it’s ok to say we see this item, so long as it looks instantiated. But I guess I find the claim that this abstract object looks anyway to me just as hard to accept as the claim that I see it.

    On another matter: I didn’t quite follow your response to Heather on the presentational nature of experience. What exactly is the phenomenologically supported claim that your naive realist view respects but intentionalism does not? It is not ‘we see things directly’. Is it ‘the nature of the experience itself is sufficient for perceptual contact’? Could you explain that a bit more? Is this the Martin claim that the experiential episode essentially involves a mind-independent object, or that its ‘fundamental kind’ (a notion I must say I don’t understand) is *a perception of a mind-independent object*? Two points. First, however it is explained, this seems pretty theoretical – not obviously the sort of thing that is supported by naive reflection on experience (not like ‘we see things directly’). So it is not obvious that it can be used to support a strong argument for naive realism over intentionalism. Second, it is not obvious to me that the intentionalist could not accommodate this sort of claim. Intentionalism is a view about the ground of phenomenology. It’s quite compatible with these claims about the essential properties/fundamental kinds of perceptual events – at least, absent some argument.

    Now there is something that I find pretheoretically very plausible that I admit intentionalism does not respect: the claim that, when one sees a tomato, say, one has an experience with this phenomenology simply by virtue of seeing the redness and roundness of the thing before one. (In your paper at one point you gloss your ‘presentational claim’ as follows: “In enjoying a perceptual experience a subject stands in a relation to the thing that they perceive, such that the subjective aspect of their experience, the peculiar way in which the subject is appeared to on such an occasion, is constituted by that which they perceive.” This seems to be giving voice to the sort of intuition I have in mind. It seems to me different from the claim you make in response to Heather, ‘the nature of the experience itself is sufficient for perceptual contact’.) We might call intuitions of this sort ‘specific naive intuitions’. These, I admit, the intentionalist may not respect. He can agree with naive realists that you see the redness and roundness of the thing (indeed he could accept the same explanation of veridical illusion as Johnston), but he arguably must deny that it is by virtue of this that you have an experience with the relevant character. By contrast, the naive realist respects this ‘by virtue of’ claim (in fact, as I understand naive realism, that claim defines naive realism). However, we also have these intuitions in illusory and hallucinatory cases. And everyone – besides sense datum theorists – admit that in these cases the intuitions are false. So I am not sure that they provide a very strong argument for accepting naive realism over intentionalism.

  10. Thanks for your reply, Matthew. First, I wanted to second what Adam said about your response to my first comment– talk of veridical perception as “presentational” is ambiguous; it could mean that the subject of a veridical perception (directly) perceives stuff, which of course the intentionalist accepts, or it could mean something murkier about its essence or fundamental kind. It’s the latter interpretation that’s relevant in the context of motivating Naive Realism, and it’s really unclear to me how reflection on phenomenology alone could deliver that result, or why that claim is required for the epistemic advantage you mention.

    Second, I wanted to follow up on your response to my second comment:

    “Is it so wrong if a response to a problem in the philosophy of perception results in a commitment to a metaphysical position? There are reasons for believing in uninstantiated universals other than this, and so it is not just a cooked up metaphysics wheeled in to solve the problem.”

    In short, my answer to your question is ‘not really.’ However, in this dialectical context, in which you’ve appealed to parsimony in motivating Naive Realism, the answer isn’t as straightforward. I suggested that being less parsimonious than we could be in our metaphysics of experience allows us to be much more parsimonious in our metaphysics of the rest of the world. But if you’re willing to give up the parsimony motivation for Naive Realism, then postulate away.

    One caveat, though. If you make these metaphysical commitments, you should be prepared to substantiate them independently of your theory of perceptual experience. People have offered reasons for believing in uninstantiated universals, but people have offered reasons against believing in them too. In my view, it’s not enough for the Naive Realist to simply avail himself of a metaphysical posit that makes his theory work; he must also engage with any debates about whether there are any such entities to begin with. Or at the very least, the Naive Realist should acknowledge that his theory is hostage to how certain other debates turn out! (This doesn’t seem to me to be the case in the literature on Naive Realism– you’ve got Naive Realists wheeling in things like truthmakers and tropes without any acknowledgment of the worry that there might not be any such things!)

  11. Hello again! And thanks again for commenting!

    Heather

    You are quite right that the naïve realist cannot just satisfy themselves with appealing to a specific metaphysical view of the universe without backing this up. But as I think that sooner or later we start hitting metaphysical questions in just about any area of philosophical discourse I don’t think that this is any bad thing – the philosopher of perception has to end up doing some metaphysics. But more rigour is definitely needed in this area.

    I’m not sure that the naïve realist is robbed of all claims to parsimony by going down this road. It is still the case that their story of perception is simpler than that of their non-naïve counterparts. They don’t have to add anything to their story of experience to get a story of perception. On their account experience is, in itself, perceptual, and does not need to be supplemented by any causal and/or matching relation in order to achieve perceptual contact with the world. Their account of the world, of what it is that we are in perceptual contact with, may be more or less complicated. Their ontology of the universe may be more complex, in having a greater number of kinds of fundamental entity. But because the non-naïve realist is silent about ontology, it is not guaranteed that their position is the more parsimonious. Providing the naïve realist can support their metaphysical claims outside of the arena of the philosophy of perception, then they can support the claim that everyone should accept such a metaphysics – including the non-naïve realist.

    Heather and Adam

    I think that reflection upon experience supports two claims. The first is that perception is perceptually direct, in that it does not appear to us as if we see the things in the world around us by seeing any ‘non-normal’ object, or something other than things in the world around us. Intentionalism satisfies this. But the second claim is that it seems to us that the object of experience, that which is apparently present to us, is actually present – it seems as if there is some actually existent entity present to one’s mind. And intentionalism does not satisfy this, for it takes the objects of experience to be intentional objects, and the relation in which we stand to them to be an intentional one, rather than a real one that requires relata. By taking these two claims seriously the naïve realist ends up with an account of perception that is psychologically direct. The subjective experience that one enjoys when perceiving something in the world is a genuine relation between subject and thing and, furthermore, this thing is the thing we perceive. The subjective experience that one enjoys when perceiving is, in itself, perceptual.

    These phenomenological considerations are a part of the motivation for naïve realism – perhaps not compelling on its own but, together with the epistemic and metaphysical (this is perhaps the weakest) motivations, makes it a position worth defending.

  12. Matthew – thanks, that helps. You write “it seems as if there is some actually existent entity present to one’s mind. And intentionalism does not satisfy this”. But this presentational phenomenology is present even in the hallucinatory case. Your explanation of it in the hallucinatory case is very much like the standard intentionalist explanation – viz in terms of a relation to an abstract object. The only difference is that you say that the relatum is a structured property, whereas intentionalists usually say it is a proposition (though often they speak as if it is simply a property too). And you say the relation involves “perceiving” something (viz a property), whereas most intentionalists disagree (though it is worth mentioning that Tye and Dretske are happy to say, as you do, that we are aware of uninstantiated properties in the bad case – so the similarity can be extremely close). As I said comments, I think that’s strange, but let me just grant it for now. Since your account and the intentionalist’s account of presentational phenomenology in the hallucinatory case are so similar, it seems you cannot consistently object to the intentonalist’s account of presentational phenomenology in the hallucinatory case. And once you accept that intentionalism provides a decent account of presentational phenomenology in the hallucinatory case, it seems you ought to admit that it could provide a decent account of presentational phenomenology in the other cases. So I do not see how you are in a position to say that in the good case we *must* explain the presentational phenomenology by saying that it is grounded in a relation to a concrete item like an object or trope – rather than nothing but a relation to an abstractum as on intentionalism.

  13. Hi Matthew,

    I just wanted to make a couple of minor points about your reply:

    “On their [the Naive Realist] account experience is, in itself, perceptual, and does not need to be supplemented by any causal and/or matching relation in order to achieve perceptual contact with the world.”

    I would have thought that the Naive Realist agrees that some sort of causal relation is at least *necessary* for the obtaining of the perceptual relation. (This falls far short of attempting to give necessary and sufficient conditions for the obtaining of the perceptual relation, which I imagine the Naive Realist wouldn’t go in for.)

    “But the second claim is that it seems to us that the object of experience, that which is apparently present to us, is actually present – it seems as if there is some actually existent entity present to one’s mind. And intentionalism does not satisfy this, for it takes the objects of experience to be intentional objects, and the relation in which we stand to them to be an intentional one, rather than a real one that requires relata.”

    I think the intentionalist should insist on distinguishing between the *object* of an experience and its *content*. The objects of an experience are things like tables, chairs, bananas, and cats. The content of an experience is a proposition, e.g., that this table is white. An intentionalist of the sort I’m envisaging thinks that perceptions have both objects and contents, while total hallucinations just have contents. On this view, it’s not the case that the objects of experience are intentional objects.

  14. Hi guys. Thanks for all the really good comments.

    Adam

    I would have thought that the intentionalist would say that the object of experience in the perceptual case is something in the world, rather than a proposition. But the object of experience is not actually present in experience – perceptual experience is an intentional state which is directed upon objects in the world, and does not have a genuinely relational structure, but it does have objects – intentional objects which are the things in the world that we perceive through having our experiences.

    When one has an hallucinatory experience, the object of experience is not a proposition, any more than it is in the perceptual case. Sometimes intentional objects are things in the world, but other times they are not (but that doesn’t mean that they have some ghostly existence.)

    What explains the phenomenology of hallucinatory experience may be the subject of the experience standing in a relation to a proposition – but nevertheless the object of the experience, that which is apparently present in experience, is not this proposition but an intentional object (which isn’t really present in experience at all – an intentional object isn’t some kind of object). But for the naïve realist under consideration here, what explains the phenomenology of the experience is the actual presence in experience of some universal– it is the object of experience that constitutes the phenomenal character of experience. Whereas for the intentionalist it is presumably the propositional content of the experience that constitutes its character (or which is the supervenience base of the character) – and this is not the object of experience.

    So the account of the presentational phenomenology of experience that the intentionalist gives is quite different from that which the naïve realist gives.

    Heather

    For the naïve realist, as I understand them, there is not a causal relation between experience and perceived object in perceptual experience, because the object is a part of the experience. There will be a causal relation between object and the subject’s visual system, such that the subject enjoys an experience of that object. Naïve realists often want to say that the physical basis of perceptual experience will be the whole causal chain form object through the visual system. But the object doesn’t cause the experience of it. The experience and the object do not have distinct existences, and so the naive realist would be reluctant to say that the latter causes the former. This raises all sorts of time lag problems, but I guess that’s another story.

    I’m not sure about the idea of hallucinations having intentional contents but not intentional objects. There are objects of experience in hallucination – there is that which is apparently present. But this can’t be thought of as the intentional content of the experience, can it? This would be a proposition, or something like that. But to say that hallucination has an intentional object isn’t to say that there is any entity really present in experience – presumably there never is, for the intentionalist, whether perceiving or not. Experience is apparently presentational, but not actually presentational.

  15. Hi Matthew, thanks for the helpful response. As I said in my post, I realize that intentionalists deny that in the hallucinatory case (or any other case) we “perceive” the relevant abstract objects – propositions. In that sense, on intentionalism, the propositions are not objects of the hallucination. Whereas you say that in the hallucinatory case we “perceive” the relevant abstract objects (which on your view are complex properties, and so very similar to (Russellian) propositions) and so they are “present to the mind” – even though they are not located before the subject, non-spatial, etc. But I guess to me this seems to be a largely verbal difference. Their metaphysics of hallucinatory experience are almost identical. So the accounts are on a par. That is what I was trying to get across in my post – sorry for not being clear. But this just may be something we’ll have to disagree about!

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