Evaluative Perception: Aesthetic, Ethical, and Normative

September 13, 2013 - September 15, 2013
Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, University of Glasgow

United Kingdom

View the Call For Papers


  • Aristotelian Society
  • British Society of Aesthetics
  • Mind Association
  • Scots Philosophical Association


Robert Audi
University of Notre Dame
Robert Hopkins
University of Sheffield
Dominic McIver Lopes
University of British Columbia
Jack Lyons
University of Arkansas
Sarah McGrath
Princeton University
Kathleen Stock
University of Sussex
Dustin Stokes
University of Toronto
University of Leeds


Anna Bergqvist
Manchester Metropolitan University
Robert Cowan
University of Glasgow

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Registration Fee:

Basic: £35
Basic + Conference Dinner: £65
Comprehensive (includes registration fee and all meals): £170

For other options please contact the organisers.

To register please email us **BY THE 2ND OF SEPTEMBER** @
Dr Anna Bergqvist [email protected], or, Dr Robert Cowan [email protected]

After long having been neglected, the possibility of evaluative perception is once again being given serious philosophical consideration. For example, in aesthetics, there has been renewed interest in the possible relations between imagination and aesthetic perception, and a growing discussion of the Wollheimian idea that the phenomenon of seeing-in, which is apparently typical of pictorial experience, marks out a distinctive form of perception (e.g., Lopes (1996, 2005), Hopkins (1998)), Pettersson (2011)). Elsewhere, in meta-ethics, there has been a flurry of debate around the topic of whether ordinary human agents could perceive the instantiation of ethical properties (e.g., Väyrynen (2008), McBrayer (2010), Dancy (2010)). These developments have complemented a long-running tradition of Aristotelian interest in ethical perception, the most famous contemporary proponent of which is John McDowell (1998). Finally, and related to this, is the development of interest in the idea that human agents could perceive reasons (e.g., Church (2010)).

At least some of these developments have, it seems, been partly inspired by progress in the philosophy of perception. For example, the emergence of the high-level view about the content of perception (e.g., Siegel (2006)) has arguably given credence to the view that conceptually sophisticated perception might be possible. In addition, discussions about the possibility of cognitive penetration, i.e., the idea that the cognitive states and characters of perceptual agents can alter how they perceive the world (e.g., Macpherson (2011)), arguably provide proponents of evaluative perception with the beginnings of a psychological account of how evaluative perception might be possible.

In light of these developments, the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience at the University of Glasgow is convening a conference on the topic of Evaluative Perception, where ‘evaluative’ is being understood so as to include aesthetic, ethical, and normative perception. The central questions to which the conference will be addressed include:

  1. Are there good reasons for thinking that evaluative perception is possible? Is this limited to any particular sensory modality/ies?
  2. Is there anything distinctive about evaluative perception, or particular types of evaluative perception?
  3. What are the epistemological consequences of evaluative perception?

As well as these questions, the topic of the conference will connect with broader discussions and debates in aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of perception, e.g., the possibility of cognitive penetration, amodal perception, and cross-modal perception, the admissible contents of experience, the relationship between imagination and perception, the impact of so-called ‘framing effects’ on perceptual experience, whether perception can be said to be rational and whether perception could be the conclusion of an argument, the role of experience in aesthetic appreciation, and the prospects for various approaches in ethics, e.g., ethical intuitionism and virtue ethics.

Any enquiries should be addressed to:

Dr Anna Bergqvist ([email protected])
Dr Robert Cowan ([email protected])

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September 2, 2013, 10:00am BST

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