Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

Why, and in what sense, things look different in the shade: solving the puzzle of constancy

I want to dispute an assumption about perceptual experience that is almost universally held but is undefended because it is unnoticed. This assumption is wreaking havoc in certain debates in the philosophy of mind. It is this: that insofar as perceptual qualities represent properties, they do so in a one-to-one manner; one experiential quality represents one, and only one, property. Call it the simplicity assumption. For example, this assumption would have it that there is an experiential quality as of redness, and this represents simply the quality of being red. Hopefully, as just stated this assumption will seem somewhat platitudinous. In this paper, I will make a case that it is actually pernicious, because there are no good reasons to believe it, and it hides from view solutions to some quite contentious debates. I begin by spelling out the assumption in more detail, and why it has little going for it. Then I discuss a problem in which we have the most to gain from ditching it — the problem of perceptual constancy.