The Contents of Visual Experience

By Susanna Siegel | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
The Role of Objects in Visual Experience

LET US BEGIN WITH Q2, THE QUESTION ABOUT CONTENTS. SUPPOSE you see Franco and he looks sad to you. Would the experience you have while seeing Franco be accurate with respect to a situation where Franco’s twin is sad but Franco isn’t? Or does the accuracy of the experience depend in every world on whether Franco himself is sad? If its accuracy depends in every world on how things are with Franco, then it has accuracy conditions that are singular.1

Prima facie, there is something to be said for both singular and nonsingular accuracy conditions. On the one hand, seeing Franco connects you to him in a way that typically makes it possible for you to form de re mental states about him, such as those you might express by saying “That guy needs rest” or “Look how he slumps in his chair.”2 When you see Franco, he looks some way to you,

1. More exactly, the contents are singular with respect to Franco, in
that they track Franco across worlds. Contents that track times (or places
or the perceiver) across worlds would be singular with respect to times
(or places or the perceiver). In this chapter, by “singular contents” I’ll
mean contents that track objects seen across worlds, and by “nonsingular
contents” I’ll mean contents that do not track these objects across worlds,
so the focus here is exclusively on objects seen.

2. Roughly speaking, a belief is de re with respect to Franco if it is true
of Franco in every world where it is true at all. Contrast the belief that the
tallest man in town is tired. This belief may be true of Franco in the world
where he is the tallest man in town, while being true of Ray in a world
where Franco is wide awake because Ray is the tallest man in town and
is tired. So this belief is not de re relative to Franco, whereas the beliefs
that would be natural to express by saying “Franco is tired” or “He is
tired” (while pointing to Franco) are.

-145-

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The Contents of Visual Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Philosophy of Mind Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I- Contents 17
  • Chapter 1- Experiences 19
  • Chapter 2- The Content View 27
  • Chapter 3- How Can We Discover the Contents of Experience? 77
  • Part II- Properties 97
  • Chapter 4- Kinds 99
  • Chapter 5- The Visual Experience of Causation 117
  • Part III- Objects 141
  • Chapter 6- The Role of Objects in Visual Experience 145
  • Chapter 7- Subject and Object in the Contents of Experience 175
  • Chapter 8- The Strong Content View Revisited 207
  • References 211
  • Index 220
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