Fiona Macpherson

Fiona Macpherson is Professor of Philosophy andDirector of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience at the University of Glasgow where she was also Head of Philosophy 2014-2017, and Deputy Head of the School of Humanities January-August 2017. She was President of the Scots Philosophical Association (2015-2016), member of the Mind Association Executive Committee (2007–2014), and member of the Steering Committee of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy (2011–2014). She is currently a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust. She was honoured to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017 and President of the British Philosophical Association in 2018. Her research is focused on the philosophy of mind, perception, and psychology. She is MA (Hons) (Glasgow), MLitt (St Andrews), PhD (Stirling). 


Illusion and Hallucination

I present new cases of illusion and hallucination that have not heretofore been identified. I argue thatsuch cases show that the traditional accounts of illusion and hallucination are incorrect because they do not identify all of the cases of non-veridical experience that they need to, and they elide important differences between cases. In light of this, I present new and exhaustive definitions of illusion and hallucination. Identifying new instances of illusion and hallucination provides much needed, important data for testing theories of experience and perception—theories that are frequently motivated, and should be judged, by their ability to account for cases of illusion and hallucination.

  • 19 mars 2019


Illusion and Hallucination in Virtual Reality

What is the nature of the experiences of people who use virtual reality devices? The contemporarydebate sees philosophers either claiming that the experiences are totally illusory or hallucinatory experiences of a scene that does not exist, or that the experiences are totally veridical experiences of a virtual or computational reality. I argue that these options are not the only ones available to us.Drawing on the considerations given in the first lecture about how to define illusion and hallucination, I outline how virtual reality experiences contain a complex mixture of veridical and illusory/hallucinatory elements. This work also sheds light on the more basic question of what it is to perceive something.

  • 26 mars 2019


Cognitive Penetration

Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one’s cognitive system, for example, one’s thoughts or beliefs? If one thinks that this can happen (at least in certain ways that are identified in the lecture) then one thinks that there can be cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitively impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can typically use to explain away alleged cases. The case is one in which it seems subjects’ beliefs about the typical colour of objects affects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur.

  • 2 avril 2019


Perception and Imagination

The two-step mechanism that I proposed in lecture 3, that I claim explains how cognitive penetration might occur, involves perceptual imagination contributing to perceptual experience. In this lecture I investigate whether this mechanism can explain other perceptual phenomena, such as the phenomenally present as absent, occlusion phenomena, and three-dimensional perception. In so doing, I discuss different forms of imagination and the phenomena of aphantasia, a condition in which people lack visual imagination. I then draw out the implications of the interaction of perception and imagination for the nature of perception, imagination and hallucination, providing a novel taxonomy of the mind.

  • 12 avril 2019