The Thought and Sense Conference

This conference is dedicated to exploring the nature of the contrast, or contrasts, between perception and cognition. It brings together the main issues of the Thought and Sense Project.


  • Tim Bayne (Monash),
  • Jacob Beck (York University)
  • Ned Block (NYU)
  • Brit Brogaard (Miami)
  • Mette Hansen (University of Bergen)
  • Grace Helton (Princeton)
  • Michael G.F. Martin (UCL, UC Berkeley)
  • Michelle Montague (University of Texas)
  • Jessica Pepp (Uppsala University)
  • Maja Spener (Birmingham)


  • Fiona Macpherson (Glasgow University)
  • Pär Sundström (Umeå University)

Poster presenters

  • Sam Clarke (Oxford University)
  • Anna Drozdzowicz (University of Århus)
  • Ben Henke (Washington University in St. Louis)
  • Jake Quilty-Dunn (Oxford University)
  • Gerardo Viera (University of Antwerp)

Conference Description

The distinction between sense perception and cognition is central to our conception of the mind, and crucial to several debates in philosophy, in epistemology, philosophy of science, theories of concepts and mental content, and beyond. Yet there has been comparatively little systematic and focused discussion on what, more exactly, the difference between perception and cognition comes to.

Recent developments call for a fresh and focused discussion of this question. Some of the traditional marks of the perceptual – e.g. distinctive immediacy, vivacity, or forcefulness; qualitative character or phenomenality; nonconceptuality; and cognitive impenetrability – have encountered serious challenges. Work in cognitive science, e.g. on predictive processing, has emphasized the importance of top-down processing, and such influentially posited capacities as ‘System 1’ or ‘core cognition’ seem to be neither clearly perceptual nor clearly cognitive.

So, is there one contrast between perception and cognition or many? Is there continuity or discontinuity? If there is an important distinction, how is it to be characterized? While there is a growing body of literature on the cognitive penetrability of perception, the focus of this conference, while related, is importantly different: it concerns not so much how often a certain boundary is crossed and what counts as crossing, but whether there is a boundary, whether there is one boundary or many (possibly cross-cutting), and whether the existence of a boundary, if there is one, has any of the interesting consequences in epistemology or other areas that it has often been thought to have. Thus, this conference will address the character and the consequences of the perception-cognition distinction.

Conference Program

Download the program (pdf)

Thursday, 2. November 2017

10:00-10:30     Welcome

10:30-11:00.    Sebastian Watzl (University of Oslo)

“Introduction: The perception/cognition distinction”

11:00-12:30     Ned Block (NYU)

“A joint in nature between perception and cognition without modularity of mind”

12:30-13:30     Lunch

13:30-15:00     Grace Helton (Princeton University)

“Unrevisability and the boundary between perception and cognition”

15:10-16:40     Tim Bayne (Monash University)

“Border disputes”

16:40-16:55     Coffee Break

16:55-18:25     Jacob Beck

“Stimulus-Dependence and the Perception–Cognition Boundary”


Friday, 3. November 2017

09:00-10:30     Michelle Montague (University of Texas)

The sense/cognition distinction”

10:40-12:10     Berit Brogaard (University of Miami)

“Phenomenal dogmatism: the problems of veridical illusion and high-level properties

                        Commentator: Pär Sundström (Umeå University)

12:10-13:10     Lunch

13:10-15:00     Poster session

Sam Clarke (Oxford University, Princeton University), Anna Drozdzowicz (University of Aarhus), Ben Henke (Washington University St. Louis), Jake Quilty-Dunn (Oxford University), Gerardo Viera (University of Antwerp)

15:10-16:40     Kristoffer Sundberg (University of Oslo)

“Perceiving properties”

                        Commentator: Fiona MacPherson (Glasgow University)

16:40-16:55     Coffee Break

16:55-18:25     Mette Hansen (University of Bergen)

“The principle of acquaintance and the argument from conceptual art”


Saturday, 4. November 2017

09:30-11:00     Michael G. F. Martin (University College London, UC Berkeley)

“On analogue content”

11:10-12:40     Maja Spener (University of Birmingham)

Subjective methods, response bias and introspection”

12:40-13:40     Lunch

13:40-15:10     Anders Nes (University of Oslo)

“If perceptions are inferred and cognitive penetrated, then why aren’t they based on reasons?”

15:20-16:50     Jessica Pepp (Uppsala University)

“Is it perception? From sensory substitution to photographic transparency”

16:50-17:00     Coffee Break

17:00-18:00     Wrap-Up Session



  • Sam Clarke (Oxford University): "The (Un)limits of Iconicity"

  • Anna Drozdzowicz (University of Århus) "Do we hear meanings? – experiences of language understanding and the perception/cognition divide"

  • Ben Henke (Washington University in St. Louis): "Perceptual Learning, Cognitive Penetration, and The Continuum Hypothesis"

  • Jake Quilty-Dunn (Oxford University): "Perceptual Pluralism"

  • Gerardo Viera (University of Antwerp): "Sensory Individuation and The Sensory / Non-Sensory Divide"



Anders Nes, Kristoffer Sundberg and Sebastian Watzl
Published Aug. 23, 2017 12:38 PM - Last modified Oct. 20, 2017 11:09 AM