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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 114, Issue 12, December 2017

Lisa Miracchi
Pages 629-677
DOI: 10.5840/jphil20171141244

Perception First

I develop a new account of perception on which it is metaphysically and explanatorily prior to illusion, hallucination, and perceptual experience (understood as neutral between these possibilities). I argue that this view can rival the mainstream experience-first representationalist approach in explanatory power by using competences as a key theoretical tool: it can help to explain the nature of perception, how illusion and hallucination depend on it, and how cognitive science can help to explain in virtue of what we perceive. According to the Competence View, perception is a kind of target-oriented activity that manifests the agent’s perceptual competence. This characterization of perception helps to explain the role of the subject in perception, as well as how perception has accuracy conditions. Illusion and hallucination are explained as degenerate exercises of perceptual competences. Lastly, I show the Competence View provides a flexible and robust framework for investigation in cognitive science.