Institut Jean Nicod

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Professeur associé de Philosophie, Université d’Utah



Dustin Stokes prononcera quatre conférences dans le cadre de sa visite à l’Institut Jean-Nicod en tant que Directeur d’études invité de l’EHESS - 2021




"Expertise and the contents of experience"

Séminaire SublimAE

Lundi 18 octobre 2021 de 15h à17h

Salle de réunion de l’Institut Jean-Nicod

This lecture begins with the thesis that thinking improves perceiving. Cases of perceptual expertise are cases where perceptual experience is, to some degree, optimized ; and the relevant improvements depend on the domain-sensitive cognitive learning of the expert. This has significant epistemic consequences (see Lecture 2), but it also has important consequences for how we theorize perceptual content. First, determinants of perceptual content are not Objective in a purely mind-independent sense ; they are inter-subjectively objective. They include facts about the environment, but also facts about the perceiver’s epistemic community, which can be very broad or quite narrow. Perceptual success, including accuracy, is determined in part by the task or goal of the perceiver, which can be specific to a domain, be it forensics or football. Second, enhanced perceptual sensitivity of this kind – to patterns, gestalts, and organizational features – is to enjoy rich perceptual content. Importantly, this lesson is partly learned by considering cases of perceiving aesthetic properties : The ballet instructor sees not only the colours, edges, shapes, and motion of her pupils but also how those features are organized in ways that are balanced or serene or graceful. 


"Perceptual expertise as epistemic virtue"

Séminaire de l’EHESS « La théorie des situations » de Jérôme Dokic

Jeudi 21 octobre 2021 de 10h30 à 12h30

Salle Dussane, 45 rue d’Ulm

Some instances of perceptual expertise are instances of cognitively enhanced perceptual experience. The expert radiologist, forensics examiner, footballer do not just judge or know better within their domains, they see better. There are cognitively sensitive perceptual differences between the expert and naïve subject. This lecture largely takes the latter epistemically neutral architectural claim for granted, so that the epistemology of these phenomena can be explored. The thesis is that (some) perceptual experts are epistemically virtuous. The expert has improved her perceptual skills through specialized, concept-rich training. As a consequence, she perceives more accurately within her domain, but also enjoys greater and more rapid perceptual sensitivity to patterns, organizational features, category- and diagnostic-specific information, and with less distraction. These skills are improvements relative to the general representational function of perceptual systems and the norms that govern adequate performance of that function. The virtue of the expert’s improvements is therefore grounded in the general biological function of perception.


"The malleability of the mind"

Colloquium de philosophie de Jean Nicod

Vendredi 29 octobre 2021 de 11h à 13h

Salle de réunion de l’Institut Jean-Nicod

Orthodoxy in philosophy of perception and cognitive science still has it that perception is modular. Indeed, modularity is treated by its proponents and opponents as the default theory. This default position assumption, I argue, is supported neither by strong arguments nor by superior explanatory power. Once we give up the assumption, genuine alternative architectures of the mind can be proposed and defended on their own merits rather than as counterexamples to the default. The alternative I defend is the malleability of the mind. Thinking not only affects perception, thinking improves perception. These broad claims are defended by appeal to a wide range of empirical research on perceptual expertise. 


"Memory, imagery, and self-knowledge"

Workshop « Imagination & Memory : A Matter of Degrees »

Mercredi 3 novembre 2021

Salle Jaurès, 29 rue d’Ulm.

One distinct interest in self-knowledge concerns whether one can know about one’s own mental states and processes, how much, and by what methods. One broad distinction is between accounts that centrally claim that we look inward for self-knowledge (introspective methods) and those that claim that we look outward for self-knowledge (transparency methods). It is here argued that neither method is sufficient, and that we see this as soon as we move beyond questions about knowledge of one’s beliefs, focusing instead on how one distinguishes, for oneself, one’s veridical visual memories from mere (non-veridical) visual images. Given robust psychological and phenomenal similarities between episodic memories and mere imagery, the following is a genuine question that one might pose to oneself : “Do I actually remember that happening, or am I just imagining it ?” After critical analysis of the transparency method (advocated by Byrne 2010, following Evans 1982) to this latter epistemological question, a brief sketch is offered of a more holistic and inferential method for acquisition of broader self-knowledge (broadly following the interpretive-sensory access account of Carruthers 2011). In a slogan, knowing more of the mind requires using more of the mind.