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WMA Mini Workshop: Perception and Objectivity
Naomi Eilan: 'Molyneux's Question Revisited: On the Role of Physical Objects'
In his ground-breaking paper on 'Molyneux's Question', Gareth Evans clears major pathways in what he describes as the 'minefield' of interconnected problems it raises. Professor Eilan will be suggesting he was right about some of the fundamental challenges raised by the Question - which turn on providing an explanation of the unity and objectivity of our shape concepts and perceptions in a way that takes proper account of empirical and theoretical work in psychology. However, she will suggest, his arguments for a positive answer to the Question don't work, due mainly to (a) his general account of perception and (b) the role he gives spatial location in securing the unity and objectivity of shape perception. Professor Eilan sketches an alternative reason for adopting a modified positive response, drawing partly on recent psychological work on subjects whose sight has been restored and partly on suggestions Evans makes in 'Things Without the Mind'.
Professor Michael Martin: 'Eliding Awareness: The Origins of Intentionalism'
Tyler Burge complains that Evans conflates two different projects and misinterprets Stawson's aims (210,pp181-183). Burge is certainly correct that in 'Things Without the Mind' Evans effects a re-working of Strawson's project in Individuals, Ch.2. But to treat this as an error of interpretation is to ignore the debate taking place between the two: in Evans's commentary; in Strawson's response; and in Evans's only posthumously published 'Molyneux's Question'.
What elements of Strawson's picture is Evans picking up? Where does the discontinuity arise, and what is Strawson's reaction? In spelling these out, Professor Martin suggests that we see the beginnings of the intentionalist turn in the philosophy of perception, which is first articulated in the early 1980s and then becomes dominant in the 1990s and beyond.