Monday October 7, 2013
KL 232 (Chancellor’s Conference Room)

Matthew Fulkerson, UC San Diego

Title: Sensory Affect

Abstract: Suppose Nina comes home to find the garbage left out, its stench filling her small apartment. She thereby comes to have a vivid olfactory experience of this rotting garbage. She thinks: What an awful smell! There is a discriminatory dimension to her experience; she could if asked distinguish the smell of last week’s takeout from today’s rotting eggs. Such a capacity is taken for granted in all extant accounts of perceptual experience. But what about the awfulness? Where does this sensory affect fit in our best account of perceptual experience? Is it just another property of the smell, alongside garlicky and smoky? Or is the awfulness a non-perceptual reaction in Nina, a merely subjective response to the genuine smells in the room? In this talk I present and critically discuss three leading philosophical accounts of sensory affect, and then survey the empirical literature to see which view the evidence favors.

Bio: Matthew Fulkerson is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UCSD. Prior to UCSD he completed a 2-year post doc at the University of British Columbia and completed his doctoral work at the University of Toronto. Most of his research focusses on philosophical issues arising from the study of human haptic touch, though more and more lately he has been working on the best theoretical accounts of pain, pleasure, and drive states.