Aspects of Visual Awareness

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation analyzes a variety of features of the subjective character of conscious visual experiences and considers their metaphysical consequences. It consists of three essays. The first, “Visual Transparency and Its Consequences”, deals with the idea that our visual experience is “transparent” to introspection. I defend an interpretation of this idea according to which, roughly, what it is like to introspect a visual experience as of a given object or property is the same as what it would be like, in the same circumstances, to attend to the relevant object or property. I then argue that the thesis of transparency, so understood, supports the idea that undergoing a visual experience is a matter of instantiating some sort of relational property (though the thesis is compatible with a range of specifications of the relevant property).

The second essay, “Naïve Realism: A Simple Approach”, considers how certain experiential differences consequent upon differences in what might be thought of as a subject’s “perspective” on what she sees bear on the ideology of naïve realism. For

example, the spatial orientation of an object relative to the subject who sees it can make a difference to her experience, and some naïve realists have argued that this is grounds for construing visual experience not as a two-place relation between a subject and an object, but as a three-place relation between a subject, an object, and the subject’s “standpoint” on the object. I argue that the former conception of visual experience can account for all of the facts that allegedly militate in favor of the latter conception.

Finally, the third essay, “Hallucination as Awareness of Tropes” analyzes the sense in which it can subjectively seem to a visually hallucinating subject that she is encountering something “particular” and argues that this can be explained by construing visual hallucination as an awareness of one or more tropes of a certain kind. The account developed has consequences for metaphysical theorizing about tropes more broadly, several of which are discussed. A contrast is also drawn with Mark Johnston’s account of hallucination as an awareness of a certain sort of uninstantiated universal.


Attribute NameValues
Author Justin Christy
Contributor Leopold Stubenberg, Committee Member
Contributor Jeff Speaks, Research Director
Contributor Brian Cutter, Committee Member
Contributor Patricia Blanchette, Committee Member
Contributor Ted Warfield, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Philosophy
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2017-08-28

Submission Date 2017-11-26
  • Representationalism

  • Gilbert Harman

  • Hallucination

  • Transparency of Experience

  • Visual Experience

  • Phenomenology

  • Mark Johnston

  • Perception

  • Bill Brewer

  • Naive Realism

  • Adam Pautz

  • John Campbell

  • M.G.F. Martin

  • Michael Tye

  • Tropes

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