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What the Nose Doesn't Know: Non-Veridicality and Olfactory Experience

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We can learn much about perceptual experience by thinking about how it can mislead us. In this paper, I explore whether, and how, olfactory experience can mislead. I argue that, in the case of olfactory experience, the traditional distinction between illusion and hallucination does not apply. Integral to the traditional distinction is a notion of 'object-failure' -- the failure of an experience to present objects accurately. I argue that there are no such presented objects in olfactory experience. As a result, olfactory experience can only mislead by means of a kind of property hallucination. The implications of my arguments are twofold. First, we see that accounts of representational content cannot always be based on the visual model. And, secondly, we see that we must recast the notion of non-veridicality, allowing for a notion of non-veridical experience that is disengaged from any particular object.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, 1415 Patterson Office Tower, Lexington, KY 40506-0027, USA, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2010


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