Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

The currently mainstream view is that, in normal conditions, our perceptual representations are largely accurate, as natural selection tends to favor epistemically reliable perceptual systems. This latter assumption has been questioned by Donald Hoffman and his collaborators by drawing on the formal tools of evolutionary game theory. According to their model, an organism whose visual system were tuned to objective reality would be driven to extinction. We argue that their model fails to take environmental modifications into due account, and we show that, once such changes are incorporated into the model, the latter will predict that an organism whose visual representations are at least partially accurate will in fact be more successful from an evolutionary point of view.

The currently mainstream view among scientists studying perception is that, in normal conditions, our perceptual representations are largely accurate—i.e., that, to some extent, they do a good job at tracking the objective structure of the external world. The view in question usually rests on a specific evolutionary assumption—i.e., that natural selection will in the long run favor individuals whose perceptual systems are epistemically reliable. Within the relevant literature it is indeed typically argued that if our perceptual representations were not somehow tuned to the objective structure of reality, evolutionary pressures would long have driven our species to…


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