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Alex Kerr

Dissertation advisors: John Campbell, Geoffrey Lee, and Michael Martin

(B.A. with highest honors, Oberlin College, 2010) My dissertation is about spatial experience: the experience of spatial features and relations, like size, shape, distance, and orientation. It centers on a few issues.

First: is what it is like for you to have a given spatial experience determined entirely by what you experience—by which things, features, and relations you experience? I argue the answer is “no”. The reason, I argue, is that there could be big, systematic differences in the way spatial features and relations appear to two creatures without any difference in which features and relations appear to each. These are differences not in what is experienced, but in the way spatial features and relations are experienced.

The second issue is: What are these “ways” of experiencing, supposing we need them? (I think it is not enough to give them a name—for example, “mental paint”—and call it a day.) Here I aim to tell a story that is continuous with well motivated stories you already find in perceptual psychology.

The third issue is: How does the space we experience relate to space as it figures in our best physical theories?


This Spring, I’ll be on a break from teaching (while on the Doctoral Completion Fellowship).