The Abductive Argument for the Cognitive Penetration of Colour Experience
Raamy Majeed (University of Cambridge)

March 29, 2016, 6:30am - 8:30am
Institut Jean Nicod

Salle de réunion
29 rue d’Ulm

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Can cognitive states ‘penetrate’ our perceptual experiences? Macpherson (2012) argues that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration that cannot be explained away, viz. the effects of cognition on colour perception, as demonstrated by Delk & Fillenbaum (1965). This paper aims to show that, though Macpherson’s example is controversial, her arguments motivate a penetrability interpretation of several other experimental findings, especially if we understand these arguments as inferences to the best explanation. I demonstrate this by defending her argument from Zeimbekis’s (2013) response, which claims that certain experimental factors, e.g. reduced acuity conditions, give rise to an anchoring bias that makes subjects misjudge (but not necessarily misperceive) colours. I argue that not only is the anchoring hypothesis compatible with the penetrability thesis, but that an explanation along the lines of anchoring that employs this thesis is a better explanation of the experimental results than one which doesn’t. I thereby conclude that we still have abductive reasons to suppose that colour perception, in some cases, is affected by cognition.

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