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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Signal into vision : medical imaging as instrumentally aided perception Semczyszyn, Nola


Imaging has become central to many branches of science. Ultrasound, PET, MRI, fMRI, CT, and various kinds of high powered microscopy are used biologically and medically and are taken to be extending the reaches of these sciences. I propose two features of imaging that need to be explained in order to situate these technologies in the epistemology of science: images are useful, and how imaging acts as a kind of visual prostheses. My solution is to appeal to pictorial representation in order to understand both how these images represent, and how we access the content of the images. I argue that imaging technologies take advantage of our ability to have visual experiences of three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional representations. In doing so they create images that are used for instrumentally aided perception into the body. My dissertation defends three theses: that imaging technology produces images as vehicles for seeing-in; that these images are visual prosthetics, they extend our perceptual capacities; and that images are used for instrumentally aided perception. I argue for these through both theoretical and pragmatic arguments. Throughout the dissertation I appeal to how the images are used and interpreted, and develop this through three case studies of MRI, ultrasound and fMRI.

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