Rethinking naive realism

15 Jan 2018

Perceptions are externally-directed - they present us with a mind-independent reality, and thus contribute to our abilities to think about this reality, and to know what is objectively the case. But perceptions are also internally-dependent - their phenomenal characters depend on the neuro-computational properties of the subject. A good theory of perception must account for both these facts. But Naive realism has been criticized for failing to accommodate the latter one. This paper evaluates and responds to this criticism. It first argues that a certain version of naive realism, often called “selectionism”, does indeed struggle with the internal-dependence of perceptions. It then develops an alternate version of naive realism which does not. This alternate version, inspired by an idea of Martin's, accommodates the internal-dependence of perceptions by recognizing the role that the subject's neuro-computational properties play in shaping perceptual phenomenology. At the same time, it retains the distinctive naive realist account of the external-directedness of perceptions.