Science, substance and spatial appearances

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Abstract

According to a certain kind of naïve or folk understanding of physical matter, everyday ‘solid’ objects are composed of a homogeneous, gap-less substance, with sharply defined boundaries, which wholly fills the space they occupy. A further claim is that our perceptual experience of the environment represents or indicates that the objects around us conform to this sort of conception of physical matter. Were this further claim correct, it would mean that the way that the world appears to us in experience conflicts with the deliverances of our best current scientific theories in the following respect: perceptual experience would be intrinsically misleading concerning the structure of physical matter. I argue against this further claim. Experience in itself is not committed to, nor does it provide evidence for, any such conception of the nature of physical matter. The naïve/folk conception of matter in question cannot simply be ‘read-off’ from perceptual appearances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2097-2114
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Volume177
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020

Keywords

  • Eddington
  • Optical illusions
  • Perception
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Representational content
  • Spatial experience
  • Visual appearances
  • Visual experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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