Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction by William Fish

Fish provides an overview of several current philosophical theories of perception, including arguments for and against. The theories he considers are Sense Datum, Adverbial, Belief Acquisition, Intentional and Disjunctive theories. Except for the last chapter, the discussion is almost all concerned with vision, which seems short-sighted.

He distinguishes the theories by their respective responses to three propositions: the Common Factor principle (“Phenomenologically indiscriminable perceptions, hallucinations and illusions have an underlying mental state in common”), the Phenomenal principle (“If there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that quality”), and the Representational principle (“All visual experiences are representational”).

Fish tries to figure out whether the theories are better explanations of the phenomenological or epistemological aspects of perception. I found the Disjunctive theories most convincing, especially the one offered by Mark Johnston, but there wasn’t enough detail provided to form a conclusion.  (5/16/10)