The Thought and Sense Conference

November 2, 2017 - November 4, 2017
CSMN/Dept of Philosophy. (IFIKK), University of Oslo

Universitetet Blindern

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  • Research Council of Norway (FRIPRO)

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Confirmed participants include:

• Tim Bayne (Monash),

• Ned Block (NYU),

• Brit Brogaard (Miami),

• Mette Hansen (University of Bergen),

• Grace Helton (Princeton),

• Uriah Kriegel (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris),

• Michael G.F. Martin (UCL, UC Berkeley),

• Fiona Macpherson (Glasgow),

• Michelle Montague (University of Texas),

• Jessica Pepp (University of Umeå),

• Maja Spener (Birmingham)


The distinction between sense perception and cognition is central to our conception of the mind, and crucial to several debates in philosophy, in epistemology, philosophy of science, theories of concepts and mental content, and beyond. Yet there has been comparatively little systematic and focused discussion on what, more exactly, the difference between perception and cognition comes to.

Recent developments call for a fresh and focused discussion of this question. Some of the traditional marks of the perceptual – e.g. distinctive immediacy, vivacity, or forcefulness; qualitative character or phenomenality; nonconceptuality; and cognitive impenetrability – have encountered serious challenges. Work in cognitive science, e.g. on predictive processing, has emphasized the importance of top-down processing, and such influentially posited capacities as ‘System 1’ or ‘core cognition’ seem to be neither clearly perceptual nor clearly cognitive.

So, is there one contrast between perception and cognition or many? Is there continuity or discontinuity? If there is an important distinction, how is it to be characterized? While there is a growing body of literature on the cognitive penetrability of perception, the focus of this conference, while related, is importantly different: it concerns not so much how often a certain boundary is crossed and what counts as crossing, but whether there is a boundary, whether there is one boundary or many (possibly cross-cutting), and whether the existence of a boundary, if there is one, has any of the interesting consequences in epistemology or other areas that it has often been thought to have. Thus, this conference will address the character and the consequences of the perception-cognition distinction.

The conference will bring together top theorists in the field, as well as novel contributions by young researchers. 

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October 19, 2017, 9:00am CET

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