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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 112, Issue 10, October 2015

Casey O’Callaghan
Pages 551-569
DOI: 10.5840/jphil20151121035

The Multisensory Character of Perception

My thesis is that perceptual awareness is richly multisensory. I argue for this conclusion on the grounds that certain forms of multisensory perceptual experience are incompatible with the claim that each aspect of a perceptual experience is associated with some specific sensory modality or another. First, I explicate what it is for some feature of a conscious perceptual episode to be modality specific. Then, I argue based on philosophical and experimental evidence that some novel intermodal features are perceptible only through the coordinated use of multiple senses. I appeal to cases that involve consciously perceptible feature instances and feature types that could not be perceptually experienced through the use of individual sense modalities working on their own or simply in parallel and co-consciously. Finally, I offer an account of how to type perceptual experiences by modality that makes room for richly multisensory experiences.