Perception as Unconscious Inference
Since antiquity, visual theorists have variously proposed that perception (usually vision) results from unconscious inference. This paper reviews historical and recent theories of unconscious inferences, in order to make explicit their commitments to inferential cognitive processes. In particular, it asks whether the comparison of perception with inference has been intended metaphorically or literally. It then focuses on the literal theories, and assesses their resources for responding to three problems that arise when visual perception is explained as resulting from unconscious inference: the cognitive machinery problem, the sophisticated content problem, and the phenomenal problem.
The Brain's "New" Science: Psychology, Neurophysiology, and Constraint
There is a strong philosophical intuition that direct study of the brain can and will constrain the development of psychological theory. When this intuition is tested against case studies from the psychology of perception and memory, it turns out that psychology has led the way toward knowledge of neurophysiology. An abstract argument is developed to show that psychology can and must lead the way in neuroscientific study of mental function. The counterintuition is based on mainly weak arguments about the fundamentality or objectivity of physics or physiology in relation to psychology.
Behaviorism and Naturalism
Behaviorism as a school of psychology was founded by John B. Watson, and grew into the neobehaviorisms of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Philosophers were involved from the start, prefiguring the movement and endeavoring to define or redefine its tenets. Behaviorism expressed the naturalistic bent in American thought, which opposed the then prevailing philosophical idealism and was inspired by developments in natural science itself, especially biology. This naturalism was not materialistic; it viewed mind as a part of nature from a Darwinian and functionalist perspective. Although Watson adopted a strict materialism, other behaviorists, including Tolman, Hull, and Skinner, were biologically oriented and rejected materialism and physicalist reduction. After the 1940s the character of philosophical naturalism in America changed. The physicalism of some logical empiricists and Quine became prominent, and behaviorism was philosophically reinterpreted in physicalist terms.
Psychology Old and New
Psychology as the study of mind was an established subject matter throughout the nineteenth century in Britain, Germany, France, and the United States, taught in colleges and universities and made the subject of books and treatises. During the period 1870-1914 this existing discipline of psychology was being transformed into a new, experimental science, especially in Germany and the United States. The increase in experimentation changed the body of psychological writing, although there remained considerable continuity in theoretical content and non-experimental methodology between the old and new psychologies. This paper follows the emergence of the new psychology out of the old in the national traditions of Britain (primarily England), Germany, and the United States, with some reference to French, Belgian, Austrian, and Italian thinkers. The final section considers some methodological and philosophical issues in these literatures.