dialectica Essay Prize – Cognitive Penetration

The dialectica 2012 essay prize topic has been announced! Submit your article on the topic of Cognitive Penetration before November 1st for your chance to win £1,500!

Cognitive penetration refers to the influence of beliefs, expectations, moods, desires or background theories on the content of perceptual processes or conscious experiences. This phenomenon has been in the forefront of the philosophy of science, the philosophy of perception, and the foundations of cognitive science. Philosophers of science have warned that cognitive penetration might threaten the epistemic role of perception as an objective source of knowledge and have used it to explain radical paradigm shifts. Philosophers of perception have tried to characterize the various ways in which perceptual processes or conscious experiences can be altered by other mental states or activities. Cognitive scientists have exploited this phenomenon as a starting point to motivate claims on the architecture of the human mind, including modularity and plasticity.

We invite submissions on any aspect of this phenomenon. Possible questions include: How is the influence of various mental states on perceptual processes or experiences to be characterized in psychological terms? Are there principled differences between the cognitive penetration of conscious experiences and that of subpersonal perceptual processes? What is the impact (if any) of cognitive penetration on the individuation of mental states? What kinds of cognitive penetration are there? Does cognitive penetration lend support to relativism? How does cognitive penetration relate to the confirmation of scientific theories by experience? Does cognitive penetration undermine (or support) some models of perceptual justification? Does the use of instruments to observe phenomena presuppose any form of cognitive penetration? What sorts of evidence can support or disconfirm claims about cognitive penetration? Could it shed new light on Kuhnian incommensurability?

Please send your submissions in pdf format to Philipp Keller, philipp.keller@unige.ch, by the 1st of November 2012. The author of the winning entry will receive £1500. All papers submitted will be considered submissions to the journal and should not be published or under review elsewhere.

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