Perception and imagination

During our first meeting, we discussed perception & imagination, with contributions from Anna Ichino, Lu Teng, Giovanni Cassani, and Nicolas Alzetta. This meeting focused on several different problems and challenges posed by the tight interaction of perception and imagination, concerning action, language, and cognitive processes in general.
The abstracts of the four presentations follows:

Anna Ichino (Centre for Philosophical Psychology) - The role of imagination and perception in action guidance 
In my presentation, I will discuss the role of imagination and perception in action-guidance. According to the most standard philosophical theory of action – the so-called ‘Humean Theory of Motivation’ – every action A is motivated by a relevant desire-belief pair: a desire to ϕ and a belief that ϕ can be obtained by performing A. However, there are a number of actions that do not fit nicely into this standard model: actions that are not easily explained in desire-belief terms. For instance, a person who genuinely desires to promote equal treatment and believes that to promote equal treatment she shouldn’t discriminate people on the base of their race, may nonetheless end up acting in (more or less subtle) racist ways. Recent empirical research indicates that cases of this sort are far from uncommon. Some philosophers have argued that such cases require us to reconceptualize our mental categories (notably, our category of belief); or to introduce new ones (like the category of ‘alief’). Against these suggestions, I will argue that the actions in question are better explained either in terms of imagination or in terms of perception.

Lu Teng (Centre for Philosophical Psychology) : Shared mechanisms for perception and imagination & their interaction 

Giovanni Cassani (CLiPS): Perception & imagination: grounding semantics of concrete and abstract concepts 
Distributional semantics is a popular theory of meaning. It started out as a purely linguistic, a modal account of meaning, but it’s been later reframed to include all sorts of sensory input (mostly images). I’ll present the most recent work on multimodal distributional semantics and how it links to cognition and theory of meaning, to highlight how different information is necessary to account for how people encode meaning of concrete and abstract concepts. 

Nicolas Alzetta (Centre for Philosophical Psychology): Continuity between perception and imagination in the predictive coding framework 
Though in its infancy, the predictive coding approach in cognitive science holds great explanatory and unificatory promise. More specifically, adopting prediction error minimisation as an overarching principle seems to enhance the prospect of a unified theory of perception, cognition and action. My presentation will first outline the core ideas of this framework and then focus on how it provides continuity between perception and non perceptual mental imagery.