Academic year
Manuel García-Carpintero and Mike Martin
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 3. Research Seminar in Theoretical Philosophy
Room 401, Fac. Filosofia, UB



The course will consist of a one-week intensive introduction to the topics of the course by Manuel García-Carpintero, followed by a one-week intensive course by Prof. Mike Martin (UCL/UC Berkeley). The aim of Martin’s course is to connect recent discussions of the nature of sensory consciousness and mental content with its basis in more traditional debates about the objects of perception and the challenge from conflicting appearances/the arguments from illusion and hallucination.


1. From objects of Perception to Content. Is there a fundamental significance to the contrast between direct and indirect perception? Is there any good ground to suppose that we can see objects only by seeing their surfaces? What is the link between the objects of perception and the character of our experience?

2. Arguments from Illusion. What, if anything, can we derive about the nature of our sense experience from the fact that things can appear ways that they are not? Is there any interesting and valid form of the argument from illusion?

3. How Might Sense Experience Relate us to the World? What pressures might lead us to think of sense experience as relational? How do these contrast with intentional approaches to sense experience?

4. What is a ‘disjunctivist’ approach to the nature of sense experience. What further consequences about the nature of sensory experience and our self-awareness follow from endorsing disjunctivism? Is this approach simply a rejection of science?



The course will have a seminar structure. Students should make the key preparatory readings listed below, and they will be asked to participate in the discussion following one-hour presentations by the instructors.


Participation in class; one essay between 2000 and 4000 words length, on a relevant question to be agreed with the teacher, who will also be available for advice on essay plans. 


Preparatory Readings 

1. From objects of Perception to Content:

GE Moore, 'A Defence of Common Sense', sec IV, in his Philosophical Papers, (George Allen, 1959)

J.L. Austin, Sense & Sensibilia, Ch. II, (OUP, 1963)

Thompson Clarke, ‘Seeing Surfaces and Physical Objects’, in Max Black, ed., Philosophy in America, (George Allen, 1966)

Frank Jackson, Perception: A Representative Theory, (CUP, 1977), Ch. 1

2. Arguments from Illusion:

M. Burnyeat, ‘Conflicting Appearances’, in Proceedings of the British Academy, 1979

S. Siegel, ‘Do Experiences have Contents?’, in Perceiving the World, ed Nanay, OUP 2010

Mark Johnston, ‘The Obscure Object of Hallucination’, Philosophical Studies, July 2006

3. How Might Sense Experience Relate us to the World?:

GE Moore, ‘Some Judgments of Perception’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1918

Gareth Evans, ‘Understanding Demonstratives’ in Collected Papers, OUP 1985

R.M. Sainsbury, ‘Austerity and Openness’, and McDowell’s reply in McDowell & His Critics, ed MacDonald and MacDonald, Blackwell

4. What is a ‘disjunctivist’ approach to the nature of sense experience:

P.F. Snowdon, ‘Perception, Vision & Causation’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1980-1

John McDowell, ‘Criteria, Defeasibility & Knowledge’, in Proceedings of the British Academy, 1982 and reprinted in his collected papers

Tyler Burge, ‘Disjunctivism and Perceptual Psychology’, in Philosophical Top

Works by Mike Martin to be read in advance:

‘Perception’, in A Handbook to Contemporary Philosophy, edd. Smith and Jackson, OUP 2006

‘The Transparency of Experience’, Mind & Language, 2002

‘The Limits of Self-Awareness’, Philosophical Studies, 2004