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Affordances and Phenomenal Character in Spatial Perception

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Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is wholly determined by, or even reducible to, its representational content. This essay puts forward a version of intentionalism that allows (though does not require) the reduction of phenomenal character to representational content. Unlike other reductionist theories, however, it does not require the acceptance of phenomenal externalism (the view that phenomenal character does not supervene on the internal state of the subject). According to the view offered here, phenomenal characters essentially represent subject-environment relations that are relevant to the possibilities for causal interaction between the subject and the environment; relations of the kind that J. J. Gibson dubbed affordances. The essay argues for this view chiefly through an examination of spatial perception, though other cases are also considered. The view assumes that a phenomenal character has an essential functional role; though it need not be assumed that a functional role is sufficient for a phenomenal character


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-513
JournalPhilosophical Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

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