Philosophy of Mind Visiting Speakers Seminar (Friday - Week 5, MT20)

Philosophy of mind


The world is presented to you as being dynamic, the spatial relationship between you and the objects that you perceive constantly changing. Once the perceptual system has determined that the changes come from the objects moving, and not from your own movement, it needs to determine whether the object is looming toward you, and if so, when it might physically impact you, which is known as the time-to-collision (TTC). A precise and reliable estimate of this information is essential for survival, not only to avoid the predatory bird aiming at you, but also to catch the apple falling down from the tree and the ball thrown at you. If you overestimate the TTC, you will be hit before being ready. If you underestimate it, you will simply miss your target. The accuracy with which top sports players can judge the time of arrival of an approaching ball is actually remarkable, errors being as small as 2 milliseconds in cricket and table-tennis (Gray and Regan, 2000). Because of the major importance of the TTC information, a vast number of studies in cognitive neuroscience have investigated how the visual system predicts where an object will be at some sharply defined instant in the future. TTC has thus been investigated both in the field with sportsmen, car drivers and pilots in real life conditions, and in the laboratory using psychophysical tasks (for review see Tresilian, 1999; Regan and Gray, 2000; Yan et al., 2011). Yet little has been done on the philosophical implications of these results for theories of perception.

People wishing to attend Mind Visiting Speakers will need to email Mike Martin, and will be sent a link for the meeting by the Thursday morning: the sessions will be secure, and each person who joins will need to be admitted to the session. So contacting Mike Martin ahead of time will be essential.

Philosophy of Mind Work-in-Progress convenor: Mike Martin and Dominic Alford-Duguid