Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 23, pp. 23-64, 2016.
Relationalism about perception minimally claims that instances of perception – in contrast to instances of hallucination – are constituted by the external objects perceived. Most variants of relationalism furthermore maintain that this difference in constitution is due to a difference in mental kind. One prominent example is acquaintance relationalism, which argues that perceptions are relational in virtue of acquainting us with external objects. I distinguish three variants of acquaintance relationalism – which differ in their answers to the question of which kind(s) of awareness (if any) hallucinations involve – and object to all of them on two main grounds. First, none of the variants can explain how hallucinations can be introspectively indistinguishable from perceptions, despite their essential difference in awareness. Second, all three variants are unable to identify the feature(s) of hallucinations that ensure that these experiences possess the same motivational power as corresponding perceptions. Since aquaintance relationalism can satisfy neither of these two desiderata on relationalist views, it should be rejected. Hence, if we want to be relationalists about perception, we should endorse a form of relationalism that treats perceptions – as well as hallucinations – as representational.