Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Shot in the Dark: Notes on Photography, Causality, and Content
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
2012 (English)In: Philosophical quarterly (Print), ISSN 0031-8094, E-ISSN 1467-9213, Vol. 62, no 249, 759-776 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Photography is often said to be an essentially causal medium. This paper addresses the role of causality in photography and argues for three main claims: (i) a causal theory of photography does not force us to say that images of backlit objects are photographs of the back surfaces of the said objects (as Roy Sorensen would have it); rather, (ii), such images, I suggest, are photographs of the objects and what Alva Noë would call their ‘looks’; (iii) the notion of ‘looks’ furnishes us with a way to move closer to an answer to the question of the appropriate causal relation in photography.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 62, no 249, 759-776 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79574DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2012.00073.xISI: 000308297500007OAI: diva2:550381
Available from: 2012-09-06 Created: 2012-09-06 Last updated: 2012-10-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Seeing What Is Not There: Essays on Pictures and Photographs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seeing What Is Not There: Essays on Pictures and Photographs
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Pictures—paintings, etchings, photographs, CGI—let us see what is not there. Or, rather, since what pictures depict is not really there, we do not really see the pictorial contents. But we seem to see the depicted things: we “see” them “in” the pictures. One kind of picture—photographs— would seem to have a special capacity to yield this experience of “seeming-to-see.” Over the last couple of decades, the question of what it is to see something in a picture—photographic or otherwise—has been lively discussed. The papers in this thesis are all attempts at contributing to this discussion.

Essay I treats the special subjective experience one undergoes in looking at photographs (as opposed to “handmade” images). I argue that this experience is (in part) due to our taking photographs as a certain kind of trace. Along the way, it is also argued that Kendall Walton’s “transparency thesis”—the thought that one literally, actually, sees photographed objects when one sees photographs of them—cannot explain the phenomenology of photography.  Behind Walton’s transparency thesis lies a view of photography as an essentially causal medium; it is the merely causal process of photography that, on Walton’s view, makes photographs transparent. In Essay II, I offer an account of the role of causality in photography, and discuss its implications for the possible contents of photographs. Essays III and IV discuss pictorial perception in general. Essay III treats Richard Wollheim’s notion of non-localisation, and (what I call) pictorial perceptual presence, how things, which are strictly speaking not seen in an image, are still part of our apprehension of the picture. Essay IV gives an account of the seeing of states of affairs in pictures, and points to the significance of such seeing. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 2011. 49 p.
depiction, photography, pictorial experience, perception, phenomenology
National Category
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65446 (URN)978-91-7447-422-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-01-20, Hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2011-12-29 Created: 2011-12-11 Last updated: 2012-09-12Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Pettersson, Mikael
By organisation
Department of Philosophy
In the same journal
Philosophical quarterly (Print)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 121 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link