Archive for the ‘veridicality’ Category

121029 – Function and Teleology

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Tyler Burge talks about representational function as if it is something that the human perceptual system has.  He says that a representational function succeeds if it represents veridically.  But that really doesn’t properly characterize the human perceptual system.  I end up feeling that the analysis is running the wrong way.

What we are concerned about is not what the perceptual system is supposed to do, that is, what we conclude that it should do (although that may be an interesting thing to speculate on), but rather we should ask what the perceptual system actually does and how it does it.  This is the difference between positing an algorithm or a set of requirements and then trying to find evidence for them on the one hand, and on the other, trying to understand what actually happens.

Failure to represent veridically is perhaps causally related to behavior that is suboptimal from the standpoint of an observer with access to the veridical facts, but an organism behaves based on what it has available, not what it would be nicer to have available.  It is already granted that proximal inputs underspecify distal reality.  The point is to make the most of what one gets.


Tuesday, July 24th, 2012


And what would be the standard of veridicality for a perception as of something as red?  Red, as we have come to understand it, is complicated.  Red has to do with the spectral characteristics of illuminants and their intensities, as well as surface reflectances over an area often larger than the area seen as red.  The best way I can think of to test the veridicality of my perception of something as red is to ask around to see if I can find a consensus.  Who knows?  It might be a green orange under peculiar conditions of illumination.  The other way is just to act as if the perception is veridical, actionable, reliable until proven otherwise or until it doesn’t matter any more.

The point of intensionality (with the ‘s’) is that apparently evolution hasn’t come up with a way to infer much in depth about distal reality on the basis of woefully underdetermined proximal stimulation.  But opaque references are more actionable than no references.  It’s a wonder evolution has eventuated in as much as it has.

So, we have an unbewusster Schluss mechanism to get opaque specifications of what is out there, and on top of that we somehow acquired a separate mechanism of bewusster Schluss to discover that Hesperus and Phosphorus are the same heavenly body and to believe experts who tell us so.