Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Philosophy/Neuroscience, and Psychology


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

José Luis Bermúdez


My dissertation articulates and resolves a problem at the heart of debates about how perception guides our actions and deliberations. The problem arises from the independent plausibility but mutual inconsistency of the following theses: * Some perceptions provide us reasons * Only belief-like states provide us reasons * No perception is belief-like I argue that this problem is deeper than has been acknowledged. Simply rejecting any one thesis leads to serious challenges. Nonetheless, I argue that we can unravel the link between having reasons and having belief-like states in a way that explains the initial plausibility of the first thesis. I provide a formulation of what being a reason-giving state amounts to, which does not require it to be belief-like. I then offer a substantive account of perceptual content that both respects its non-belief-like: nonconceptual) character and explains its ability to provide us reasons.


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