The Harvard Review of Philosophy


published on October 2, 2020

Michael Tye

Filling In and the Nature of Visual Experience

This essay begins with a discussion of the phenomenon of filling in. It is argued that filling in is naturally accounted for by taking visual experiences to be importantly like drawn pictures of the world outside. An alternative proposal is then considered, one that models visual experiences on incomplete descriptions. It is shown that introspection does not favor the pictorial view. It is also shown that the phenomenon of blurriness in visual experience does not provide a good reason for favoring the pictorial view either. Why, then, be a pictorialist? It is argued that visual experiences conform to what have been called “the laws of appearance” and that their conformity to these laws gives us an excellent reason for preferring the pictorial account.

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