Sense-Data Workshop: 27–28 April 2017

Issued: Tue, 07 Feb 2017 11:47:00 GMT

The sense-data theory is typically interpreted to posit mental entities – sense-data – to explain both veridical and non-veridical perception. According to the proponents of the classical version of this theory, even when we have veridical perceptual experiences, we do not have direct access to the external world; instead, we have direct access to sense-data. In veridical cases, sense-data correspond to real physical objects with the sensible properties that sense-data also have. In non-veridical cases (i.e. in illusions and hallucinations), such correspondence typically fails. The sense-data theory was highly popular in the first half of the 20th century, but with the advancement of new theories of perception and the rise of physicalist theories about the mind-body problem, the theory fell out of fashion. This workshop will bring together philosophers of perception, metaphysicians, and psychologists to debate the prospects of the sense-data theory of perception: whether it can account for the phenomenology of experience, what its ontological commitments really are, and how it meshes with contemporary science.


27 April

  • 9:00 – 9:30: Coffee and registration
  • 9:30 – 10:45: Derek Brown (Philosophy, Glasgow): "Colouring the veil of perception"
  • 10:45 – 12:00: David Simmons (Psychology, Glasgow): "A psychophysicist tries to make sense of sense-data theory"
  • 12:00 – 13:00: Lunch break
  • 13:00 – 14:15: Laura Gow (Philosophy, Cambridge): "Two kinds of aboutness"
  • 14:15 – 15:30: Craig French (Philosophy, Nottingham): "Sense-data and the argument from illusion: lessons from Snowdon"
  • 15:30 – 15: 50: Coffee
  • 15:50 – 17:05: Robin Le Poidevin (Philosophy, Leeds): "Space and sense-data"

 28 April 

  • 9:00 – 9:30: Coffee
  • 9:30 – 10:45: Alan Johnston (Psychology, Nottingham): "The timing of eye contact"
  • 10:45 – 12:00: Clare MacCumhaill (Philosophy, Durham): "Sense and plenitude"
  • 12:00 – 13:00: Lunch break
  • 13:00 – 14:15: Louise Richardson (Philosophy, York): "Odours and sense-data"
  • 14:15 – 15:30: Bob Kentridge (Psychology, Durham): "Colour constancy, sensation and perception"

Venue: Reid Room, 67 Oakfield Avenue, Philosophy, University of Glasgow, G12 8LP, Glasgow

Organiser: Umut Baysan (Philosophy, Glasgow)

The workshop is free to attend, but registration via email is required (for space and catering related reasons). Please send an email to Umut Baysan ( by Monday 24 April if you would like to attend.

The workshop is part of the Sense-Data Project hosted by the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience. The PI is Professor Fiona Macpherson, and the Co-I is Dr Stephan Leuenberger. It is funded by the John Templeton Foundation (via the New Directions in the Study of Mind Project at the University of Cambridge) and the Scots Philosophical Association.



Scots Philosophical Association