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Pain and color perception: a unified, agent-centered account

(Work in progress, in draft)

Abstract:For many philosophers of perception, color and pain spell trouble. This is because both are difficult to accommodate within the standard model of perception which states that perceptual systems are detectors of mind-independent properties/states of the extracranial world. In this paper, I argue that both color and pain perception can be easily accommodated within an alternative, agent-centered model of perception which states that the primary function of perception is to guide successful action and that perceptual experiences do not need to align with mind-independent reality to play this action-guiding role. I further propose that this advantage of the agent-centered model makes it the preferable model of perception at large. I proceed as follows: I first give an overview of the standard model and its treatment of color and pain perception. I then highlight intrapersonal variation as the most pressing problem with the standard model insofar as it pertains to color perception. After showing how intrapersonal variation is not a problem for the agent-centered model, I demonstrate how we can straightforwardly apply the same account to pain. After asking whether we truly want a unified account of color perception and pain, I conclude that we have good reasons for preferring a unified account, and good reasons for embracing the agent-centered model as a general model of perception. 

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