Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 44, Issue 2, 2015

René Jagnow
Pages 183-205

Can We See Natural Kind Properties?

Which properties can we visually experience? Some authors hold that we can experience only low-level properties such as color, illumination, shape, spatial location, and motion. Others believe that we can also experience high-level properties, such as being a dog or being a pine tree. On the basis of her method of phenomenal contrast, Susanna Siegel has recently defended the latter view. One of her central claims is that we can best account for certain phenomenal contrasts if we assume that we can visually experience natural kind properties. In this paper, I argue that certain kinds of low-level properties, namely shape-gestalt properties, can explain these phenomenal contrasts just as well as high-level properties. If successful, this is a modest, but nevertheless significant result. Even though it does not prove the falsity of Siegel’s proposal, it nevertheless secures the existence of a plausible alternative.