My work focuses on a range of topics in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of language. I am particularly interested in the nature of perceptual experience, evidence, knowledge, capacities, mental content, and imagination. I am working on developing an integrated account of the phenomenological and epistemological role of perceptual experience. One of the key ideas in developing this account is that perceptual experience is a matter of employing perceptual capacities.


In epistemology, I have developed a new account of the epistemic force of experience. I argue that sensory states provide perceptual evidence due to their metaphysical structure: Sensory states are yielded by employing perceptual capacities that function to single out particulars in our environment. So there is primacy of the employment of perceptual capacities in perception over their employment in hallucination and illusion. Due to this primacy, sensory states provide us with evidence. This view of evidence is externalist while avoiding the pitfalls of reliabilist accounts. Moreover, it provides for an evidential answer to how and why we are in a better epistemic position when we perceive than when we hallucinate (see my forthcoming papers in Mind and Philosophical Studies).


In philosophy of mind, I have defended the idea that experience is representational and developed a detailed account of the nature of perceptual content that advances a new way of understanding singular modes of presentations. I argue that experience is fundamentally both relational and representational (see my 2010 paper in Philosophical Studies and my 2011 paper in Noûs). This view of content has interesting implications for the sensory character of experience. It provides for a way of understanding sensory character in terms of a mental activity, more specifically, in terms of employing perceptual capacities (see in particular my 2011 paper in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research).  The idea is that in hallucination, we employ the very same perceptual capacities that in a subjectively indistinguishable perceptual experience are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. Employing perceptual capacities yields a mental state with content. This representational account of sensory character is an alternative to the orthodox approach on which sensory character is analyzed in terms of awareness relations to abstract entities, such as properties, sense-data, or other peculiar entities. By arguing that we employ the very same perceptual capacities in subjectively indistinguishable perceptions, hallucinations, and illusions, I provide a substantive way of understanding the common factor between these experiences.


Another focus of my research has been space perception and the situation-dependency of perception (see my 2007 in Mind and my 2008 paper in Journal of Philosophy).


Selected Publications:

Experience and Evidence”, Mind, 122 (487), July 2013, pp. 699-747.


Belief and Desire in Imagination and Immersion”, Journal of Philosophy, 110 (9), Sept. 2013, pp. 497-517.


"Perceptual Content Defended", Noûs, 45 (4), Dec. 2011, pp. 714-50.


"Ontological Minimalism about Phenomenology", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 83 (1), July 2011, pp. 1-40.


"The Situation-Dependency of Perception", Journal of Philosophy, 105 (2), Feb. 2008, pp. 55-84.


"Action and Self-Location in Perception", Mind, 116 (463), July 2007, pp. 603-32.

 

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

susanna.schellenbergATrutgers.edu


Secondary Affiliation:

Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS)