CFP: Naïve Realism and Its Challenges (Warwick)

CFP for BPPA Masterclass on Naïve Realism and Its Challenges

At the University of Warwick, on the 8th of October 2016; Room TBC

The deadline for submitting your work is the 1st of September 2016.

Until recently, the idea that perceptual experiences are representational states was dominant, if not unquestioned. More recently, however, an alternative view has been advanced by Naïve realists (Martin 2002, 2004; Fish 2009; Campbell 2002; Brewer 2011). The central claim of Naïve realism is that perceptual experiences should be construed as constitutively involving relations of awareness or acquaintance to mind-independent objects in the world. While Naïve realism is often put forward as a negative claim–in opposition to the notion of perceptual representational content (Travis 2004)–positive motivations have also been offered. For one, Naïve realism is meant to offer the best explanation of the phenomenal character and transparency of perceptual experience (Martin 1998, 2002), and the role of perceptual experience in grounding demonstrative (Campbell 2002) and conceptual thought (Travis 2013). But is Naïve realism a convincing alternative to more traditional theories of perception? Can the theory satisfactorily account for all the phenomena we want a theory of perception to explain? Our BPPA Masterclass is devoted to articulating some of the explanatory challenges Naïve realism faces and to exploring possible solutions.


  • Dr. Craig French (University of Cambridge)
  • Prof. Mark E. Kalderon (University College London)

Abstracts or papers are invited from graduate students working in the philosophy of perception, mind and epistemology.  Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

(A) Hallucinations. It is possible to enjoy experiences that are subjectively indiscriminable from genuine perceptions, but where no perceived object is present. How can Naïve Realism, which is first of all a view of genuine perceptions, do justice to the phenomenology of hallucinations? Is it sufficient to adopt disjunctivism – the view that hallucinations and perceptions are different kinds of mental states? Are negative epistemic accounts (Martin 2004) satisfactory?

(B) Illusions. How should we explain illusions, or experiences where we are in a relation to an object in the world, but where the object appears different from how it is? Should they be treated as partial hallucinations (Fish 2009)? Some philosophers, instead, propose to understand illusions as veridical perception, and explain their illusory aspect by appealing to notions such as perceptual similarity and objective looks (Brewer 2008, Kalderon 2011). How should we construe these notions? What are the implications of these treatments of illusion for Naïve realism?

(C) Perceptual knowledge. While epistemological motivations have been invoked to defend some versions of disjunctivism (Snowdon 2005, Byrne and Logue 2008), disjunctivism does not entail Naïve realism. But are there specifically epistemological motivations for adopting Naïve Realism? Does Naïve realism have any advantage or disadvantage with respect to competing theories of perception from the point of view of the epistemology of perception? What account of perceptual knowledge should Naïve realists endorse? And how does Naïve realism constrain the role perceptual experience can play in justifying our beliefs about the world?

Submissions should be suitable for presentation in 30 minutes (typically 3,000 to 4,000 words). The deadline for submitting your abstract, or, if available, paper, is the 1st of September 2016. If you would like to present, please send the following in separate .doc(x) or .pdf files: (1) A cover sheet, containing your name, affiliation, degree being studied, and the title of your paper, and (2) an abstract of no more than 500 words, including a title and some keywords, prepared for blind review or, if available, a paper of no more than 3,000 to 4,000 words, including title and footnotes, prepared for blind review. The deadline for submitting your work is the 1st of September 2016.

Conditional on successful funding applications, we will be able to offer bursaries to cover the travel expenses of our graduate speakers.

We strongly encourage submissions from women and other under-represented groups.

Supported by:
Analysis Trust
Warwick Philosophy Department

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