CFP: BPPA Masterclass: Objectivity, Space and Mind

Submission deadline: March 31, 2015

Conference date(s):
May 14, 2015 - May 15, 2015

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Institute of Philosophy
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


There is an intuitive connection between objective experience and/or object perception, on the one hand, and spatial perception or thinking, on the other. This intuitive connection is given a more concrete form in the Critique of Pure Reason, in which Kant argues that space is not only ‘a condition on the possibility of appearance’ (B39) but the condition ‘under which alone outer intuition is possible for us’(B42). We find further consideration of the idea that space is required for experience of the world as objective in P.F. Strawson’s Individuals (1959) and in Gareth Evans’s ‘Things without the Mind’(1980). According to Quassim Cassam (2005) we can, in fact, distinguish three independent but intertwined versions of this Spatiality Requirement, in which the existence of space, our idea of space, and our perception of space are involved respectively. The three versions, as he formulates them, are as follows:

            (STE) The existence of space is necessary for objective experience.

            (STI) The idea of space is necessary for objective experience.

            (STP) The perception of space is necessary for objective experience.

However, at least one version of this supposedly transcendental and therefore a priori condition on objective experience or object perception has recently been challenged by the experience of a subject with Bálint’s Syndrome. While the patientseems to see objects, he seems not to perceive space or have a visual field (Robertson 2004). If the patient’s reports are interpreted in this way, they seem, prima facie, to be a counterexample to (STP). In response, Campbell (2007) has argued that this clinical case is in fact compatible with STp, although this is denied by Schwenkler (2012). This ongoing debate is a starting point of this workshop.

            Further related questions of interest include, but are not exhausted by, the following: 

* How exactly should we understand Kant’s claim that spatial perception is required for ‘outer experience’? Are his arguments convincing?

* In arguing for the Spatiality Requirement, Strawson elaborates a thought experiment about a subject whose experiences are all and only auditory. How exactly should we understand the imagined scenario? What implications can be drawn from it? Is the relevant idea of a conceptual scheme defensible in light of Davidsonian criticisms (1973)?

* In commenting on Chapter 2 of Individuals, Evans elaborates new arguments for the Spatiality Requirement. Is there significant improvement in Evans’s effort? Similar considerations are applicable in evaluating Cassam’s relevant works (2005, 2007). 

* There is a related but different debate about Berkeley’s Puzzle, one formulation of which asks how experiences make the concept of mind-independent objects available to us. In responding to this question, Campbell (2011) offers a relational analysis of experience, while Cassam (2011) offers a Kantian response. On what grounds should we assess which of these offers a better response to the puzzle? Are there other ways of responding to the puzzle?

* Again relatedly, there is a debate between the object view (Brewer 2011) and the content view (Siegel 2012, Schellenberg 2011) of perceptual experience. The former argues that perceptual experiences are fundamentally object involving, while the latter argues that what is fundamental to perceptual experience is representational content. Which view, if either, is better equipped to accommodate and explain the objectivity of perception?

* Both vision and touch are spatial senses, but the ways in which we perceive space and spatial properties through these two senses might be very different. In vision, there are different construals of visual field: sensational (Peacocke 1983), representational (Tye 2000) or relational (Campbell 2002). Which construal is the most plausible one? Furthermore, given a specific understanding of visual field, is there an analogous sense of tactile field? Martin (1992) gives a negative answer to this question, while Haggard et al. (2011) answers it in the affirmative. Are they talking past each other, or is there substantive disagreement between them? 

* Relatedly, Molyneux’s Question, concerning the ability of a newly sighted individual to distinguish the shapes of seen objects that she has previously become familiar with by touch alone, has not been satisfactorily answered even after long-standing debates between many philosophers. One worry about the negative answer to this question is that it threatens the objectivity of perceptual experiences. Louise Richardson (2014) has offered an interesting response to this worry, but is it ultimately successful?

* In a series of papers, the most recent one being ‘Three Puzzles about Spatial Experience’(forthcoming), David Chalmers has put forward interesting considerations concerning spatial experiences through several bizarre thought experiments. The thread has generated a new interest in spatial perception from other angles, for example Peacocke (2013). Does this discussion shed any light on more general issues concerning objectivity, space and mind?

* In addition to Bálint’s Syndrome, there are other visual spatial deficits such as unilateral neglect (Driver and Vuilleumier 2001). How should we understand these deficits? Are they pure attentional deficits or not?


To apply for presenting your work, please prepare these documents:

1) Cover letter: Name, Academic Affiliation, Email Address, and Academic Interests.

2) Either an abstract from 500 to 1000 words, or a full paper less than 8000 words.

Due Day: 31st of March

Result available: Mid-April

Submission to: [email protected]

The decision will be based to the quality and relevance of the abstracts or papers. We will make our best effort to secure funding to cover the expenses of the participants, however participants are encouraged to apply bursary from their home institutions.

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