Action and experience
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The project examines the relationship between perception and action, and is divided into two parts. The first establishes a detailed philosophical critique of recent sensorimotor or enactive approaches to perception, targeting in particular the work of Alva Noë. In the second part I defend what may be called an 'action-space' account, according to which conscious experience is constituted by an agent's representing his surroundings in such a way as to enable a certain suite of actions. The enactive approach, I argue, misconstrues the relationship between perception and action and fails in its aim to provide an explanation of consciousness. It faces difficulties, too, when it comes to illusion, hallucination and non-visual perception. The action-space model, by contrast, drawing upon work by Andy Clark, Daniel Dennett and Philip Pettit, has the resources to provide a reductive, functionalist account of phenomenal consciousness; an account that locates consciousness where we want it - in the service of fluid world-engagement by embodied, active perceivers. Thus the perception/action interface is taken to be less direct than on the sensorimotor interpretation, but is nonetheless deep and important. The approach I endorse, furthermore, is consistent with and informed by empirical results from the cognitive sciences, including work on embodied, situated cognition and dual-streams analyses of visual processing.