This page was last modified on May 6, 2014

Susanna Siegel Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

Monograph: The Contents of Visual Experience 2010, Oxford University Press.

Book Symposium on The Contents of Visual Experience, Philosophical Studies, 163.3 with Precis and Replies to symposiasts: John Campbell, Jesse Prinz, and Charles Travis. Penultimate versions of Precis of The Contents of Visual Experience, and replies to Campbell, Prinz, and Travis.

Replies to Bengson, Gluer and Schellenberg from the Author Meets Critics session at the 2012 Central APA.

Replies to Block, Campbell and Dretske from the Author Meets Critics session at the 2012 Pacific APA.

New things

"Rational Evaluability and Perceptual Farce", in Cognitive Effects on Perception: New Philosophical Perspectives, edited by John Zeimbekis and Athanasios Raftopoulos, Oxford University Press. Forthcoming in 2014 or 2015.

"Affordances and the Contents of Perception", in Does Perception Have Content?, edited by Berit Brogaard, Oxford University Press. Forthcoming in 2014.

"How is Wishful Seeing like Wishful Thinking?" forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

"The Epistemic Impact of the Etiology of Experience" A symposium in Philosophical Studies. 162.3. With replies by Matthew McGrath, Richard Fumerton and Michael Huemer.

My replies to Fumerton, Huemer, and McGrath.

"Can Selection Effects on Experience Influence its Rational Role?" Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4, Ed. T. Gendler.Oxford 2013.

"Consciousness, Attention, and Justification", with Nico Silins. Forthcoming in Dodd and Zardini, eds. Scepticism and Perceptual Justification. Oxford 2013.

"Are There Edenic Grounds of Perceptual Intentionality? Symposium on David Chalmers's The Character of Consciousness Analysis Reviews, 2013. (DOI) 10.1093/analys/ans150


Do Visual Experiences Have Contents? In Perceiving the World, ed. Bence Nanay, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 333-68. Also Chapter 2 of The Contents of Visual Experience.

Papers in Epistemology

Cognitive Penetrability and Perceptual Justification | in Nous 2011.

In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptual justification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.

The Epistemic Impact of Etiology of Experience , Philosophical Studies 162.3 Published as a symposium with replies by Richard Feldman, Richard Fumerton and Michael Huemer.

In this paper I offer a theory of what makes certain influences on visual experiences by prior mental states (including desires, beliefs, moods, and fears) reduce the justificatory force of those experiences. The main idea is that experiences, like beliefs, can have rationally assessable etiologies, and when those etiologies are irrational, the experiences are epistemically downgraded.

The Epistemology of Perception (with Nico Silins), forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception, ed. Mohan Matthen. 2013, Oxford University Press.

An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the following topics: varities of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics and epistemology of perception, causal and constitutive factors that may contribute to the rational role of perceptual experience, and the roles of attention and cognitive penetration. Due to the Handbook's space constraints, the final version will have a smaller bibliography than the version posted here.

Can Selection Effects on Experience Influence its Rational Role? . Oxford Studies in the Epistemology 4, Ed. T. Gendler.

This paper discusses the epistemic impact of influences on both the content and the role of perceptual experiences by subject's prior desires, hopes, beliefs, suspicions. I focus on cases in which such prior psychological states influence the selection of objects and properties for experience, and the selection of experiences for uptake into belief. These phenomena differ from cognitive penetration, but raise equally interesting epistemological problems.

"Consciousness, Attention and Justification", with Nicholas Silins. Forthcoming in Contemporary Perspectives on Scepticism and Perceptual Justification, eds. D. Dodd and E. Zardini. Oxford University Press.

We discuss the rational role of highly inattentive experiences and argue that they provide justification for perceptual beliefs.

Papers about properties presented in visual experience

"Affordances and the Contents of Perception", in Does Perception Have Content?, edited by Berit Brogaard, Oxford University Press.

In this paper I formulate three alternatives to the idea that perceptual experiences are in the business of representing the environment around the perciever. This idea is the main thrust of the Content View about perceptual experience. The alternatives to the Content View stem from the idea that experiences are sometimes pervaded by a complex, dynamic kind of affordance. Such experiences are structured by how you are already acting in a situation - not only by how you can act or are disposed to act in it. Drawing on descriptions of such experiences given by Hubert Dreyfus and Adrian Cussins, I argue that none of these alternatives to the Content View do justice to this phenomenon.

Which Properties Are Represented in Perception? In Perceptual Experience, eds. T. Szabo Gendler and J. Hawthorne. OUP, 2006

In this paper, I consider whether anything more than colors and shapes of objects in environment is represented in visual experience. I argue that it is: properties such as being a table and being a pine tree are represented in experience, as are semantic properties of texts. The argument includes discussions of non-sensory phenomenology.

The Visual Experience of Causation In Philosophical Quarterly59.

In this paper I argue that visual experiences can represent causal relations, and I discuss the bearing of Michotte's results on this claim. An earlier draft of this paper was part of the on-line philosophy conference, which can be viewed here

The Phenomenology of Efficacy In Philosophical Topics Vol. 33, No 1, Spring 2005.

I argue that in some visual and kinesthetic experiences represent that the subject of those experiences has just brought about an effect. I call the kind of causation that I argue is so represented 'efficacy'. The paper also criticizes some arguments against the view that any kind of causation (a fortiori, efficacy) is represented in perceptual experience.

How Can We Discover the Contents of Experience? In Southern Journal of Philosophy, 2007, vol XLV

In this paper I discuss several proposals for how to find out which contents visual experiences have, and I defend the method I've uesd in several other papers - the method of phenomenal contrast.

Are Kind Properties Represented in Perception?

In this paper, I criticize an argument that no visual experiences represent kind properties, such as being a Eucalyptus tree.

Papers about seeing objects

How Does Visual Phenomenology Constrain Object-seeing? In Australasian Journal of Philosophy, September 2006.

I argue that there are phenomenological constraints on what it is to see an object, and that these are overlooked by some theories that offer allegedly sufficient causal and counterfactual conditions on object-seeing.

Subject and Object in the Contents of Visual Experience In Philosophical Review vol 115, no 3, 2006|

In this paper I argue that in experiences of object-seeing, objects are presented to us as mind-independent. The paper contains a thought-experiment involving a doll and an afterimage. (This paper used to be called "Particularity and Presence in Visual Perception").

Direct Realism and Perceptual Consciousness In Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol 73:2, Sept. 2006, with a reply by A.D. Smith

This is a paper focused on A.D. Smith's book The Problem of Perception. It discusses the argument from illusion and the argument from hallucination and criticizes Smith's attempt to defend direct realism from these arguments. It also includes a long section (section 6) on what characterizes phenomenology of perception as opposed to mere sensation. This section complements the discussion of these topics in "Subject and Object in the Contents of Visual Experience".

Papers about disjunctivism

Indiscriminability and the Phenomenal In Philosophical Studies 120, 90-112. 2004

In "The Limits of Self-Awareness", M.G.F. Martin argues that the dominant conception of phenomenal character is closely linked to the notion of indiscriminability from veridical perception, and brings with it weighty epistemic assumptions. I argue that fans of the dominant conception can reject the link between phenomenality and indiscriminability from veridical perception, and that the epistemic assumptions they're committed to are not weighty as Martin suggests.

The Epistemic Conception of Hallucination In Disjunctivism: Perception, Action and Knowledge Oxford University Press, 2008

In this paper I argue that the disjunctivist attempt to account for hallucination in purely epistemic terms probably won't work.

Papers about demonstratives

The Role of Perception in Demonstrative Reference In Philosophers' Imprint Vol. 2, No. 1. 2002.

In this paper I defend a view about what fixes the reference of uses of bare demonstratives ("this", "that", and their plurals).

"Presupposition and Policing in Complex Demonstratives" (with Michael Glanzberg) | In Nous March 2006, 40:1

We argue that in classic perceptual uses of that F, the nominal F plays what we call a "policing role" with respect the proposition semantically expressed by utterances in which the use occurs: roughly speaking, no proposition is semantically expressed by an utterance ofThat F is G if no contextually appropriate object is F. We argue for this on grounds that are independent of whether complex demonstratives are quantificational, referring expressions, or something else.

Encyclopedia Entries

The Contents of Perception in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Contents of Perception in the Sage Encyclopedia of Perception, Ed. Bruce Goldstein, 2009.

The Contents of Consciousness in Oxford Companion to Consciousness, Eds. Bayne, Cleermans and Wilken. 2009.

Unpublished Commentaries

Comments on Jim Pryor's "An Epistemic Theory of Acquaintance" (previously called "What Is De Re Thought?".) | jp in html

Comments on David Chalmers's "Perception and the Fall from Eden" | eden in html

Some thoughts on Simon Baron-Cohen's book The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the Truth about Austism SB-C in html

This is a handout from a discussion held at the MBB Program's 2005 Junior Symposim. The topic of the symposium was Sex, Gender, Mind and Brain.


•Review of A Theory of Sentience, by Austen Clark, Philosophical Review, vol. 111, no 1, January 2002 | clark in html

•Review of Reference and Consciousness, by John Campbell, Philosophical Review vol. 113, no 3, July 2004 | jc in html

•"Can We See More Than We Can Access?" Comment on Ned Block's "Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh Between Psychology and Neuroscience". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2007. Co-authored with Alex Byrne and David Hilbert

•"Attention and Perceptual Adaptation" Comment on Andy Clark's "Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science" Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36.4. 2013. Co-authored with Ned Block

Edited Collections

• Isssue Editor, Special Issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology on cognitive penetrability of perceptual experience. Co-edited with Zoe Jenkin. Forthcoming in 2015.

• Isssue Editor, Inquiry: Special Issue on the Nature of Belief. 2014.

• Guest Editor, PSYCHE 13.1, 2007: Symposium on the Phenomenology of Agency.

The symposium includes papers by Vittorio Gallese, Jakob Hohwy, Terry Horgan, Jenann Ismael, Elisabeth Pacherie, and Stephen White

• Co-Editor, with Tamar Gendler and Steven Cahn.Elements of Philosophy Oxford University Press, 2007.

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