Cognitive Penetration

December 9, 2014
University of Geneva


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Episteme and Thumos (University of Geneva) are pleased to announce the Workshop:

Cognitive Penetration

Geneva (Switzerland), December 9th, 2014 


Uni-Dufour, Room U 259

Chair: Santiago Echeverri


14:00-15:20   Jack Lyons (University of Arkansas): Internalism and Cognitive Penetration

(50 min talk + 30 min for discussion)

15:20-15:40   Coffee Break

15:40-17:00   Wayne Wu (Carnegie Mellon University): Shaking the Mind’s Ground Floor: The Cognitive Penetration of Attention by Intention (50 min talk + 30 min for discussion)


Bâtiment Uni-Dufour, Room U 259, Rue du Général-Dufour 24, 1204 Geneva  

The workshop is organized by Episteme and Thumos

There are no registration fees. If you are interested in attending, please contact Santiago Echeverri by email:

santiagoecheverri AT

Santiago.Echeverri AT 



Jack Lyons (University of Arkansas)

Internalism and Cognitive Penetration

If perception is cognitively penetrated, then what we see is influenced by cognitive states like beliefs, desires, expectations, etc. Cognitively penetrated perception is often thought to be epistemically inferior to nonpenetrated perception, at least in some cases. One obvious explanation for this fact would be that cognitive penetration sometimes makes us worse at perceiving what’s really there; i.e., it makes us less reliable. Epistemic internalists will need to find some factor other than reliability to account for the epistemic effect of cognitive penetration. I consider three recent internalist proposals, by Siegel, Markie, and McGrath, and argue that none of them offers a viable internalist alternative to the reliabilist view.

Wayne Wu (Carnegie Mellon University)

Shaking the Mind’s Ground Floor: The Cognitive Penetration of Attention by Intention

In this talk, I shall present the best empirical case for cognitive penetration, namely the penetration of intention by attention. This is a surprising result as attention has often been set aside as a plausible target of cognitive penetration, but this is in part due to a faulty understanding of attention. I shall discuss the nature of attention and intention, draw on neuroscience to show how intention penetrates visual computations needed for realizing visual attention, and then highlight epistemic consequences of such penetration and points of contact with empirical notions of top-down modulation.

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