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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Perception and Action: From Inner Zombies to the Predictive Brain MSc (PHIL11126)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines conceptual issues arising from recent empirical work on the nature of perception and action. The topics include philosophical, psychological, neuroscientific, and computational perspectives on issues such as:

- What is perception, and how does perception relate to action?
- How many senses do we have, and is it possible to use one sense, e.g. touch, to replace another, e.g. vision?
- How should we explain the subjective character of hallucinations and illusions?
- What does change-blindness really suggest about our knowledge of the visual scene?
- Do sensorimotor or Bayesian theories offer an adequate account of perception and action?
- Do the philosophical distinctions between perception, cognition and action accurately reflect the underlying brain processes?

Shared teaching with undergraduate course Perception and Action: From Inner Zombies to the Predictive Brain (PHIL10148).

For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Course description (i) The Problem of Perception
(ii) 'Direct' versus 'Indirect' Perception
(iii) Content and Phenomenal Character
(iv) Hallucination and Illusion
(v) Individuating the Senses
(vi) Multisensory Perception
(vii) Change Blindness
(viii) Sensorimotor Contingency Theory
(ix) Bayesian Brains and Predictive Processing
(x) Perception, Cognition, Action
(xi) Reflections: Rethinking Perception and Action
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Advanced topics in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition (PHIL11038)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. a sound understanding of some of the main conceptual issues arising from recent empirical work on the nature of perception and action
  2. an ability to think and write critically and knowledgeably about these themes
  3. an ability to present their ideas and arguments in informal discussion in the seminars
Reading List
Recommended textbooks include:

(1) General Collections
The Senses: Classic and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives. Edited by Fiona Macpherson (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Edited by David Chalmers (Oxford University Press, NY, 2002)

Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception. Edited by Alva Noë and Evan T. Thompson (MIT Press, Camb. MA, 2002)

Perception and Its Modalities. Edited by Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen and Stephen Biggs (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Enaction: Towards a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science. Edited by J. Stewart, O. Gapenne & E. Di Paolo (MIT Press, Camb. MA, 2010)

The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Science. Edited by Keith Frankish and William M. Ramsey (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Edited by P. Robbins and. M. Aydede (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

(2) Introductory Texts (to be sampled rather than followed in sequence)
A. Clark, Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Second edition, 2013, Oxford University Press)

W. Fish, Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, London, 2010)

C. O¿Callaghan, Beyond Vision: Philosophical Essays (Oxford University Press, 2017)

T. Crane, The Contents of Experience: Essays on Perception (Cambridge University Press, 1992)

A. Noë, Action in Perception (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004)

J. Hohwy, The Predictive Mind. (Oxford University Press, 2013)

J. Bermudez, Philosophy of Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, NY, 2005)

(3) Sample papers
T. Crane and C. French, ¿The Problem of Perception¿, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2017 Edition, E. N. Zalta (ed.), URL = «»

P. Snowdon ¿How to Interpret ¿Direct Perception¿¿, in The Contents of Experience: Essays on Perception, edited by Tim Crane (Cambridge University Press, 1992), ch. 3

F. Macpherson "The Space of Sensory Modalities", in Perception and Its Modalities, Edited by D. Stokes, M. Matthen and S. Biggs, 432¿461. (Oxford University Press, 2015)

C. O¿Callaghan ¿The Multisensory Character of Perception", The Journal of Philosophy, 122: 2015 p. 551¿69

J. K. O'Regan and A. Noë "A sensorimotor approach to vision and visual consciousness" Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5): 2001 939¿1031

A. Clark, "Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science" in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (3): 2013 181¿204

D. Knill & A. Pouget "The Bayesian brain: The role of uncertainty in neural coding and computation" Trends in Neuroscience 27 (12): 2004 p. 712¿19.

R. Gregory "Perceptions as hypotheses" Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 290: 1980 p.181¿97

K. Kveraga, A. Ghuman, and M. Bar, M "Top-down predictions in the cognitive brain" Brain and Cognition 65: 2007 p.145¿68

R. Grush, "The emulation theory of representation: Motor control, imagery, and perception". Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27: 2004 p. 377¿442

J. McClelland, M. Botvinick, D. Noelle, D. Plaut, D., T. Rogers, M. Seidenberg. & L. Smith, "Letting structure emerge: connectionist and dynamical systems approaches to cognition" Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (8): 2010 p. 348¿56
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Argument, critical reading, structured essay writing
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Keith Wilson
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860
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