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Unit information: Philosophy of Perception in 2015/16

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Unit name Philosophy of Perception
Unit code PHIL30119
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Anya Farennikova
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This course surveys key topics in contemporary philosophy of perception. Questions include: Is there a sharp divide between perception and cognition? Can our beliefs and biases influence how we see the world? What can synesthesia teach us about perceptual content? Can we perceive moral and aesthetic properties, or is perception limited to physical properties such as colours and shapes? Can perception be completely idle, or is it essentially linked to action? Special emphasis is given to two current debates in philosophy of perception: cognitive penetrability of perception and admissible contents of experience. Many readings focus on visual perception, but we will also consider other sensory modalities, such as tactile perception and audition.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. have developed a strong knowledge of the literature in the philosophy of perception;
  2. have developed a critical understanding of central concepts and various sub-topics within the philosophy of perception, e.g. concerning representationalism about perceptual experience, non-conceptual content, ecological versus constructivist approaches to perception, the role of action and emotion in perception, cognitive penetrability of perception, the nature of hallucinations, and the debate about visual imagery.
  3. be able to engage philosophically with and analyse and critically appraise the main arguments in the literature on the philosophy of perception.
  4. be able to demonstrate sophisticated skills in philosophical writing and argumentation;

Teaching Information

10 x one hour lectures, 10 x one hour seminars

Assessment Information

1 x 2250 word formative essay, supporting development of ILO 1 - 4. Satisfactory completion of the formative essay is required to gain credit for this unit.

1 x 3 hour examination (summative, 100% of unit mark), assessing ILO 1 - 4.

Reading and References

Dretske, Fred (1969). Seeing And Knowing. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.

Fodor, Jerry A. (1983). The Modularity of Mind. MIT Press.

Gendler, Tamar & Hawthorne, John (eds.) (2006). Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press.

Noë, Alva & Thompson, Evan (eds.) (2002). Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception. MIT Press.