SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

How many Olfactory Senses do Humans have?
(Epistemology, English)

Since Grice's paper Some remarks about the senses (1962), the debate about the criteria to define and classify the senses has drawn the attention of a number of philosophers.
It often happens that what prima facie looks like a single sensory modality can be decomposed in more 'submodalities'. Olfaction is useful to exemplify this kind of cases. Indeed, a three-fold distinction can be made: 1) Orthonasal olfaction enables perceivers to get information about the chemicals in the surrounding air; 2) Retronasal olfaction is stimulated by volatile chemicals released by food in the mouth; 3) The trigeminal system plays a significant role both in monitoring inhaled air and in savouring food.
During this talk, I will argue that the experiential criterion and the behavioral criterion are the best suited to categorize olfactory perceptions. According to the first, the sensory modalities are to be defined in phenomenological or experiential terms, and each of them has a peculiar qualitative character that distinguishes it from the others. According to the second, behaviors and actions play a constitutive role in the definition of the senses, and their classification should take into account the types of behaviors thanks to which animals explore, live and get knowledge of the environment.
On the basis of the experiential criterion, I will defend the theses that retronasal perceptions should be detached from olfaction and that they should be considered as constituents of the sense of flavor. On the basis of the behavioral criterion, I will suggest that trigeminal sensations are accessory to both orthonasal olfaction and flavor perception, because they contribute, as orthonasal olfaction does, to the ecological function of monitoring the air that is brought into the nose, and because they contribute, as retronasal olfaction does, to the ecological function of savoring.

Chair: Franziska Poprawe
Time: 16:15-16:45, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.005

Andrea Togni 
(FINO Consortium (Universities of Turin, Eastern Piedmont, Genoa and Pavia), Italy)

In 2013, I received a M.A. in philosophy after studying at the State University of Milan. Since 2014, I have been a PhD student in Philosophy, curriculum mind, language and cognition, at the FINO Consortium (Universities of Turin, Eastern Piedmont, Genoa and Pavia), where I'm working on a dissertation about the criteria to define and categorize the senses. From January to June 2016, I was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London. I'm currently spending the first six months of 2017 as a visiting student at the University of Glasgow. In 2015, I attained the Italian qualification for history and philosophy teaching (TFA, Tirocinio Formativo Attivo). In 2016, I won a ministerial public competition for a job as secondary school teacher of history and philosophy.

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