Context-sensitivity in normative language and discourse

This project is led by Dr Will Davies and is funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant.

What is it to see? This is a central question in philosophy of mind concerning the nature of visual perception. The standard Aristotelian view is that seeing always involves awareness of colour: we see the shapes and sizes of objects by virtue of seeing their colours. This project critically re-evaluates this convention, exploring the idea that colour and form perception are not so easily distinguishable.

Building on recent work in psychology, that colour vision itself is heavily involved in generating experience of form, the project’s unique focus will be to examine disorders of colour consciousness, in particular cerebral achromatopsia or ‘cortical colour blindness’. Achromatopsia is extremely puzzling and suggestive, as patients somehow see forms defined solely by differences in colour, despite being unable to see these colours as such.

The project will involve a research visit to the Centre for Vision and Visual Cognition lab at Durham University and a two-day conference to be held at the University of Birmingham in May 2018. Bringing together expert philosophers of mind and psychology with cognitive psychologists, the conference will provide the first interdisciplinary examination of cerebral achromatopsia, considering its implications for the relationship between colour and form in visual perception.