Visually perceiving the intentions of others

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


I argue that we sometimes visually perceive the intentions of others. Just as we can see something as blue or as moving to the left, so too can we see someone as intending to evade detection or as aiming to traverse a physical obstacle. I consider the typical subject presented with the Heider and Simmel movie, a widely studied ‘animacy’ stimulus, and I argue that this subject mentally attributes proximal intentions to some of the objects in the movie. I further argue that these attributions are unrevisable in a certain sense and that this result can be used to as part of an argument that these attributions are not post-perceptual thoughts. Finally, I suggest that if these attributions are visual experiences, and more particularly visual illusions, their unrevisability can be satisfyingly explained, by appealing to the mechanisms which underlie visual illusions more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-264
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number271
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • Action
  • Dual-systems theory
  • High-level perception
  • Intention
  • Social cognition
  • Visual perception


Dive into the research topics of 'Visually perceiving the intentions of others'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this