Alfonso Anaya

about

I'm a Postdoctoral Researcher in the "Perceptual Objects in the Unimodal and Multimodal Settings" Project, at the University of Warsaw. My research interest lies in the intersection between Epistemology, Philosophy of Action and Philosophy of Mind.

Before coming to Warsaw, I earned a PhD in Philosophy in the University of Warwick, and I did a postdoc at Mexico's National University, where I also taught for a number of years.

My main research interest is perceptual knowledge. My interest in this topic is guided by two questions: what is exactly the role of perception in providing us with knowledge of our surroundings?, and what do we perceivers need to do in order to attain that knowledge? The proposal I develop addresses these questions by proposing a division of epistemic labour: on the one hand, perception provides perceivers with reasons for world-directed judgements by making us aware of concrete entities. On the other, perceivers need to do several things to be entitled to exploit those reasons in knowledgeable judgements.

This has led me to pay close attention to the kinds of mental agency that might be required for subjects to attain perceptual knowledge. In this respect, I've lately become particularly interested in exploring the role that recognitional abilities play in perceptual knowledge acquisition, and the extent to which these abilities can be construed as genuinely agential. Earlier, I explored the extent to which being prepared to address defeaters adequately is part of the epistemic agency that is necessary for (perceptual) knowledge acquisition.

a geometric design

publications

  • ‘Absent Contrary Indication’ – On a Pernicious Form of Epistemic Luck, and Its Epistemic Agency Antidote
    Forthcoming in Erkenntnis { abstract } { pdf }

    It is widely accepted that knowledge is incompatible with the presence of non-neutralized defeaters. A common way of addressing this issue is to introduce a condition to the effect that there are no non-neutralized defeaters for the belief that p (i.e. a “no-defeaters condition”). I argue that meeting this condition leaves open a possibility for defeaters to squander our knowledge. The no-defeaters condition can be fortuitously met, and as a result it can be met luckily. I shall argue that this kind of luck is inconsistent with knowledge. In order to prevent this pernicious form of luck I introduce a “defeaters-responsiveness” condition, according to which subjects ought to be disposed to adequately address defeaters if they were to arise (even if they in fact do not arise).

  • Incompetent Perceivers, Distinguishable Hallucinations, and Perceptual Phenomenology. Some Problems for Activity Views of Perception
    Forthcoming in Philosophical Explorations { abstract } { pdf }

    There is a recent surge in interest in agential accounts of perception, i.e. accounts where activity plays a central role in accounting for the nature of perceptions. Within this camp, Lisa Miracchi has argued that her Competence View (CoV) of perception has the resources to strike a double feat: to provide an alternative to current representationalist hegemony while avoiding endorsing relationalism about perception. If successful, CoV could be seen as inaugurating a third way, beyond relationalism and representationalism. Unfortunately, CoV faces serious problems which render it untenable in its present form. First, CoV cannot accommodate straightforward perceptual and hallucinatory phenomena – specifically, distinguishable hallucination, first perceptions, and hallucinations of implausible objects. Second, close inspection of the main locus of disagreement between relationalism and experience-first approaches shows that CoV has more in common with experience-first approaches than Miracchi acknowledges. Thus, contrary to Miracchi’s advertising, CoV is not a perception-first alternative to representationalism. Within the agential camp, in contrast to CoV, Susanna Schellenberg’s view (the Capacity View) can avoid many of the challenges faced by CoV. However, it is unable to make sense of distinguishable hallucination. This means that both agential accounts of perception face serious problems.

  • Perceptual Presentation and the Myth of the Given
    2021 Synthese { abstract } { pdf }

    This paper articulates and argues for the plausibility of the Presentation View of Perceptual Knowledge, an under-discussed epistemology of perception. On this view, a central epistemological role of perception is that of making subjects aware of their surroundings. By doing so, perception affords subjects with reasons for world-directed judgments. Moreover, the very perceived concrete entities are identified as those reasons. The former claim means that the position is a reasons-based epistemology; the latter means that it endorses a radically anti-psychologist conception of reasons. First, I articulate and motivate the Presentation View. Then, I defend the view from three incarnations of a major objection levelled within the ranks of reasons-based epistemologies: McDowell’s version of the accusation that a view like this falls prey to the Myth of the Given. I argue that all three incarnations fail to show the Presentation View to be inadequate.

  • Naïve Realism and Phenomenal Similarity (w/ Sam Clarke)
    2019 Inquiry { abstract } { pdf }

    It has been claimed that naïve realism predicts phenomenological similarities where there are none and, thereby, mischaracterises the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. If true, this undercuts a key motivation for the view. Here, we defend naïve realism against this charge, proposing that such arguments fail (three times over). In so doing, we highlight a more general problem with critiques of naïve realism that target the purported phenomenological predictions of the view. The problem is: naïve realism, broadly construed, doesn’t make phenomenological predictions of the required sort. So, as a result, opponents must resign themselves to attacking specific incarnations of naïve realism, or approach matters quite differently.

  • Naïve Realism and Unconscious Perception: A Reply to Berger and Nanay (w/ Sam Clarke)
    2017 Analysis { abstract } { pdf }

    In a recent paper, Berger and Nanay consider, and reject, three ways of addressing the phenomenon of unconscious perception within a naïve realist framework. Since these three approaches seem to exhaust the options open to naïve realists, and since there is said to be excellent evidence that perception of the same fundamental kind can occur, both consciously and unconsciously, this is seen to present a problem for the view. We take this opportunity to show that all three approaches considered remain perfectly plausible ways of addressing unconscious perception within a naïve realist framework. So far from undermining the credibility of naïve realism, Berger and Nanay simply draw our attention to an important question to be considered by naïve realists in future work. Namely, which of the approaches considered is most likely to provide an accurate account of unconscious perception in each of its purported incarnations?

  • Moorean Inferences and Strenght of Epistemic Position
    2016 Signos Filosóficos { abstract } { pdf } { english translation }

    In this article I analyze Martin Smith’s diagnosis of what is wrong with Moorean inferences, according to which these exhibit an epistemic defect incapable of increasing the reliability of their conclusion. Smith thinks this defect can be used to explain the phenomenon of epistemic warrant transmission failure. I will argue that Smith’s proposal is mistaken in supposing that the only way in which there can be warrant transmission is by increasing the reliability of the conclusion. I propose that, when the evidence increases the probability that the conclusion is true, the epistemic position about it improves, which could result in an epistemic warrant for it as well.

In progress

{ Drafts available upon request - comments very welcome! }

  • A paper on epistemology of disagreement I
    (w/ Diego Rodríguez)
    R&R in Philosophical Quarterly
  • A paper on epistemology of disagreement II
    (w/ Diego Rodríguez)
    Under Review in Philosophical Studies
  • A paper on epistemology of disagreement III
    Under Review in Theoria
  • A paper on scientific idealized models
    Under Review in Journal for the General Philosophy of Science

teaching

2018-2021 UNAM

2020-21

  • Theory of Knowledge 2 / Undergraduate Lecture
  • Theory of Knowledge 1 / Undergraduate Lecture

2019-20

  • Theory of Knowledge 2 / Undergraduate Lecture
  • Theory of Knowledge 1 / Undergraduate Lecture
  • Theory of Knowledge / Postgraduate Lecture
  • Mental Agency: Philosophy of Action and Epistemology / Postgraduate Seminar

2018-19

  • The Nature of Perception in its Different Modalities and its Epistemological Role / Postgraduate Seminar

2015-2017 University of Warwick

2017-18

  • Introduction to Philosophy / Undergraduate Seminar
    { Components on Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ethics, Political Philosophy, and Continental Philosophy }

2016-17

  • Logic I / Undergraduate Seminar
  • Ethics / Undergraduate Seminar

2015-16

  • Introduction to Philosophy / Undergraduate Seminar
  • Logic I / Undergraduate Seminar

2014-15

  • Elements of Scientific Method / Undergraduate Seminar
  • Logic I / Undergraduate Seminar

upcoming talks

  • Making Sense Of Unjustified Actions within Anti-psychologism
    University of Tilburg - Reasons Rationality and Culture Workshop
    2021 October
  • How to do things you can't control - Abilities for perceptual recognition
    UT Austin - Mind Work
    2021 April
  • Agential Involvement in Automatic and Habitual Activity – The Role of Intelligent Training in Perceptual Recognition
    UNAM and LATAM Free Will - Workshop on Free Will and Agency
    {postpone due to Pandemic }
  • { for a full list see my CV }

contact

a photo of Alfonso Anaya