Perception solves computationally demanding problems at lightning fast speed. It recovers sophisticated representations of the world from degraded inputs, often in a matter of milliseconds. Any theory of perception must be able to explain how this is possible; in other words, it must be able to explain perception’s computational tractability. One of the few attempts to move toward such an explanation is the information encapsulation hypothesis, which posits that perception can be fast because it keeps computational costs low by forgoing access to information stored in cognition. I argue that we have no compelling reason to believe that encapsulation explains (or even contributes to an explanation of) perceptual tractability, and much reason to doubt it. This is because there exist much deeper computational challenges for perception than information access, and these threaten to make the costs of access irrelevant. If this is right, it undermines a core computational motivation for encapsulation and sends us back to the drawing board for explanations of perceptual tractability.
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Tyler Brooke-Wilson; How Is Perception Tractable?. The Philosophical Review 1 April 2023; 132 (2): 239–292. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-10294422
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