Lessons from the Size-Weight Illusion Elena Pasquinelli Institut Nicod

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Lessons from the Size-Weight Illusion
Elena Pasquinelli

Institut Nicod – EHESS

1 bis, avenue Lowendal 75007 Paris France


The present paper focuses on the issue that the concept of perceptual illusion is not above controversy, as the study of the classical case of the Size-Weight Illusion illustrates. The extreme positions are represented by the indirect, inferential approach to perception and the direct, ecological view; the first one indicates illusions as evidence for the role of inferential processes and internal representations in perception and the second one discards the notion of illusion that goes along with the notions of inference and internal representation. Hence, the Size-Weight Illusion not only receives different explanations, depending on the specific view of perception adopted, but is also susceptible to not being classified as an illusion phenomenon at all, as on the basis of their attitude towards the Size-Weight Illusion, ecologists deny the existence of illusions in general. Nevertheless, for ecologists too, the study of the phenomena that are analogous to the Size-Weight Illusion seems to be a precious instrument of research on the quantities the perceptual systems are sensitive to.

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