Looks Indexing

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
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  • 1 Université de Genève

Charles Travis influentially argued in “The Silence of the Senses” that the representational theory of perceptual experience is false. According to Travis, the way that things look cannot index the content of experience as the subject of the experience cannot read the content off from the way things look. This looks indexing is a central commitment of representationalism. The main thrust of Travis’ argument is that the way things look is fundamentally comparative, and this prevents the subject from reading a single content off from the way things look. If content were looks indexed, the subject would be able to do this. I argue that Travis’ argument rests on an illicit transition from an argument about the way objects look in themselves—i.e. an argument about the visible properties that they have—to a conclusion about the way that objects look to subjects in experience.

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