I research the mechanisms underlying visual experience and consciousness (the mind-body problem), by using psychophysical experimental methods and theoretical analyses based on scientific naturalism, realism and functionalism. I taught at the University of Surrey for several decades, mainly on the Biological Bases of Psychology, their clinical applications and theoretical implications.
Affiliations and memberships
My interests cover wide areas of visual perception, brain research, cognition, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. Most of my empirical research has been into visual psychophysics (especially binocular vision, illusions, duration, motion perception and adaptation), but I also have experience in several areas of neuroscience and in clinical neuropsychology.
The approach is integrative and deliberately cross-disciplinary. After training in psychology, neurophysiology and philosophy at Bristol and Cambridge Universities, and international collaborations in the USA, Italy and Germany, I have utilised a wide range of techniques to tap into the many levels of the problem, from single neurone recording, psychopharmacology and electroencephalography, via psychophysics and psychometrics, to qualitative social constructivism, mathematical modelling and analytic philosophy.
Conceptually, my research has firstly been on the nature of scientific theories: their generation, development and classification. Secondly, it is argued that consciousness should be understood as evolved functions that emerge in hierarchically nested, multi-level dynamic systems (spanning all levels from the sub-atomic to the social and ecological).
Current work questions the validity of 'labelled line' theory as an explanation for (philosophical) intentionality. I am also defending scientific realism in perception and illusion research against recent vigorous attacks from anti-realist continental phenomenologists.
With a Supplement on Alfred Volkmann’s (1863) Physiological Investigations in the Field of Optics