Inscrutability and visual objects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The thesis that the visual system represents objects has garnered empirical support from a variety of sources in recent decades. But what kinds of things qualify as “objects” in the relevant sense? Are they ordinary three-dimensional bodies? Are they the facing surfaces of three-dimensional bodies? I argue that there is no fact of the matter: what we have are equally acceptable ways of assigning extensions to the relevant visual states. The view I defend bears obvious similarities to Quine’s thesis that linguistic reference is inscrutable. Importantly, though, I argue that even if Quine was wrong about inscrutability as a thesis about language and thought, the case for the inscrutability of visual reference remains strong.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2949-2971
Number of pages23
JournalSynthese
Volume194
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

linguistics
language
Three-dimensional
Language
Thought

Keywords

  • Indeterminacy
  • Inscrutability
  • Multiple-object tracking
  • Perception
  • Visual objects
  • Visual reference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Inscrutability and visual objects. / Phillips, Ben.

In: Synthese, Vol. 194, No. 8, 01.08.2017, p. 2949-2971.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Phillips, Ben. / Inscrutability and visual objects. In: Synthese. 2017 ; Vol. 194, No. 8. pp. 2949-2971.
@article{8f370e2eff714ecdbb2d1beb789a839d,
title = "Inscrutability and visual objects",
abstract = "The thesis that the visual system represents objects has garnered empirical support from a variety of sources in recent decades. But what kinds of things qualify as “objects” in the relevant sense? Are they ordinary three-dimensional bodies? Are they the facing surfaces of three-dimensional bodies? I argue that there is no fact of the matter: what we have are equally acceptable ways of assigning extensions to the relevant visual states. The view I defend bears obvious similarities to Quine’s thesis that linguistic reference is inscrutable. Importantly, though, I argue that even if Quine was wrong about inscrutability as a thesis about language and thought, the case for the inscrutability of visual reference remains strong.",
keywords = "Indeterminacy, Inscrutability, Multiple-object tracking, Perception, Visual objects, Visual reference",
author = "Ben Phillips",
year = "2017",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s11229-016-1083-3",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "194",
pages = "2949--2971",
journal = "Synthese",
issn = "0039-7857",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",
number = "8",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Inscrutability and visual objects

AU - Phillips, Ben

PY - 2017/8/1

Y1 - 2017/8/1

N2 - The thesis that the visual system represents objects has garnered empirical support from a variety of sources in recent decades. But what kinds of things qualify as “objects” in the relevant sense? Are they ordinary three-dimensional bodies? Are they the facing surfaces of three-dimensional bodies? I argue that there is no fact of the matter: what we have are equally acceptable ways of assigning extensions to the relevant visual states. The view I defend bears obvious similarities to Quine’s thesis that linguistic reference is inscrutable. Importantly, though, I argue that even if Quine was wrong about inscrutability as a thesis about language and thought, the case for the inscrutability of visual reference remains strong.

AB - The thesis that the visual system represents objects has garnered empirical support from a variety of sources in recent decades. But what kinds of things qualify as “objects” in the relevant sense? Are they ordinary three-dimensional bodies? Are they the facing surfaces of three-dimensional bodies? I argue that there is no fact of the matter: what we have are equally acceptable ways of assigning extensions to the relevant visual states. The view I defend bears obvious similarities to Quine’s thesis that linguistic reference is inscrutable. Importantly, though, I argue that even if Quine was wrong about inscrutability as a thesis about language and thought, the case for the inscrutability of visual reference remains strong.

KW - Indeterminacy

KW - Inscrutability

KW - Multiple-object tracking

KW - Perception

KW - Visual objects

KW - Visual reference

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84962878167&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84962878167&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11229-016-1083-3

DO - 10.1007/s11229-016-1083-3

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84962878167

VL - 194

SP - 2949

EP - 2971

JO - Synthese

JF - Synthese

SN - 0039-7857

IS - 8

ER -