A Breath of Fresh Air: Absence and the Structure of Olfactory Perception.
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
The question of whether we can perceive absences, in addition to 'positives', has received recent attention in the literature on the nature of vision and audition. The aim is to demonstrate that there can be objectless forms of perceptual consciousness; specifically, to show that such episodes can be distinguished from those in which there is merely no perception at all. The current paper explores this question for the domain of olfaction, and argues that there can be experiences of the absence of odours, in addition to positive smell perception. Doing so sheds light upon the structure and spatial content of olfaction.