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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 116, Issue 8, August 2019

Justin D’Ambrosio
Pages 413-446
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2019116826

A New Perceptual Adverbialism

In this paper, I develop and defend a new adverbial theory of perception. I first present a semantics for direct-object perceptual reports that treats their object-positions as supplying adverbial modifiers, and I show how this semantics definitively solves the many-property problem for adverbialism. My solution is distinctive in that it articulates adverbialism from within a well-established formal semantic framework and ties adverbialism to a plausible semantics for perceptual reports in English. I then go on to present adverbialism as a theory of the metaphysics of perception. The metaphysics I develop treats adverbial perception as a directed activity: it is an activity with success conditions. When perception is successful, the agent bears a relation to a concrete particular, but perception need not be successful; this allows perception to be fundamentally non-relational. The result is a novel formulation of adverbialism that eliminates the need for representational contents, but also treats successful and unsuccessful perceptual events as having a fundamental common factor.

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