A central preoccupation of philosophy in the twentieth century was to determine constitutive conditions under which accurate (objective) empirical representation of the macrophysical environment is possible. A view that dominated attitudes on this project maintained that an individual cannot empirically represent a physical subject matter as having specific physical characteristics unless the individual can represent some constitutive conditions under which such representation is possible. The version of this view that dominated the century's second half maintained that objective empirical representation of the physical environment requires the individual to be able to supplement this representation with representation of general constitutive features of objectivity. This essay criticizes instances of this version in P. F. Strawson and Quine. It maintains that all versions of the position postulate conditions on objective empirical representation that are more intellectual than are warranted. Such views leave it doubtful that animals and human infants perceptually represent elements in the physical environment. By appeal to common sense and to empirical perceptual psychology, this essay argues that unaided perception yields objective representation of the macrophysical environment. It does so in prelinguistic animals, even in animals that almost surely lack propositional attitudes. The essay concludes with explications of nondeflationary conceptions of representation and perception. It distinguishes nonperceptual sensing from perceptual representation and explicates perceptual representation as a type of objective sensory representation. Objectivity is marked by perceptual constancies. Representation is marked by a nontrivial role for veridicality conditions in explanations of the relevant states.
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Tyler Burge; Perceptual Objectivity. The Philosophical Review 1 July 2009; 118 (3): 285–324. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2009-001
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