Non-conceptual Experiential Content and Reason-giving

According to John McDowell and Bill Brewer, our experiences have the type of content which can be the content of judgements - content which is the result of the actualization of specific conceptual abilities. They defend this view by arguing that our experiences must have such content in order for us to be able to think about our environment. In this paper I show that they do not provide a conclusive argument for this view. Focusing on Brewer’s version of the argument, I show that it rests on a questionable assumption - namely, that if a subject can recognize the normative bearing of a mental content upon what she should think and do, then this content must be the result of the actualization of conceptual capacities (and in this sense conceptual). I argue that considerations regarding the roles played by experience and concepts in our mental lives may require us to reject this assumption
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00353.x
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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