Abstract: In Mind and World, McDowell conceives of the content of perceptual experiences as conceptual. This picture is supposed to provide a therapy for skepticism, by showing that empirical thinking is objectively and normatively constrained. The paper offers a reconstruction of McDowell's view and shows that the therapy fails. This claim is based on three arguments: 1) the identity conception of truth he exploits is unable to sustain the idea that perception-judgment transitions are normally truth conducing; 2) it could be (...) plausible only from an externalist point of view that is in tension with the view of normativity that motivates conceptualism; 3) the identity conception of truth is incompatible with McDowell's recent version of conceptualism in terms of ‘non-propositional intuitive contents’. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the beginnings of Brentano’s ontology were Aristotelian in nature; but this claim is only partially true. Certainly the young Brentano adopted many elements of Aristotle’s metaphysics, and he was deeply influenced by the Aristotelian way of doing philosophy. But he always interpreted Aristotle’s ideas in his own fashion. He accepted them selectively, and he used them in the service of ends that would not have been welcomed by Aristotle himself. The present paper is an exposition (...) of the development of Brentano’s ontology, beginning with the Lectures on Metaphysics first delivered by Brentano in Würzburg in 1867 and concluding with his late work from 1904–1917. (shrink)
Conceptualism is the thesis that, for any perceptual experience E, (i) E has a Fregean proposition as its content and (ii) a subject of E must possess a concept for each item represented by E. We advance a framework within which conceptualism may be defended against its most serious objections (e.g., Richard Heck's argument from nonveridical experience). The framework is of independent interest for the philosophy of mind and epistemology given its implications for debates regarding transparency, relationalism and (...) representationalism, demonstrative thought, phenomenal character, and the speckled hen objection to modest foundationalism. (shrink)
Though it enjoys widespread support, the claim that perceptual experiences possess nonconceptual content has been vigorously disputed in the recent literature by those who argue that the content of perceptual experience must be conceptual content. Nonconceptualism and conceptualism are often assumed to be well-defined theoretical approaches that each constitute unitary claims about the contents of experience. In this paper I try to show that this implicit assumption is mistaken, and what consequences this has for the debate about perceptual experience. (...) I distinguish between two different ways that nonconceptualist (and conceptualist) proposals about perceptual content can be understood: as claims about the constituents that compose perceptual contents or as claims about whether a subject. (shrink)
Abstract: Philosophers interested in Kant's relevance to contemporary debates over the nature of mental content—notably Robert Hanna and Lucy Allais—have argued that Kant ought to be credited with being the original proponent of the existence of ‘nonconceptual content’. However, I think the ‘nonconceptualist’ interpretations that Hanna and Allais give do not show that Kant allowed for nonconceptual content as they construe it. I argue, on the basis of an analysis of certain sections of the A and B editions of the (...) Transcendental Deduction, for a ‘conceptualist’ reading of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. My contention is that since Kant's notion of empirical intuition makes essential reference to the categories, it must be true for him that no empirical intuition can be given in sensibility independently of the understanding and its categories. (shrink)
The motivation for McDowell’s conceptualism is an epistemological consideration. McDowell believes conceptualism would guarantee experience a justificatory role in our belief system and we can then avoid the Myth of the Given without falling into coherentism. Conceptualism thus claims an epistemological advantage over nonconceptualism. The epistemological advantage of conceptualism is not to be denied. But both Sellars and McDowell insist experience is not belief. This makes it impossible for experience to justify empirical knowledge, for the simple (...) reason that what is not a belief cannot justify a belief. Nondoxastic experience, though conceptual, is still a Given. And what conceptualism gives us can only be a New Myth of the Given. (shrink)
This paper defends a conceptualist answer to the question how objects come by their modal properties. It isolates the controversial metaphysical assumptions that are needed to get ontological conceptualism off the ground, outlines the conceptualist answer to the question and shows that conceptualism is not in as bad a shape as some critics have maintained.
Abstract This paper is about the nature of the relationship between (1) the doctrine of Non-Conceptualism about mental content, (2) Kant?s Transcendental Idealism, and (3) the Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding, or Categories, in the B (1787) edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, i.e., the B Deduction. Correspondingly, the main thesis of the paper is this: (1) and (2) yield serious problems for (3), yet, in exploring these two serious problems for the B Deduction, (...) we also discover some deeply important and perhaps surprising philosophical facts about Kant?s theory of cognition and his metaphysics. (shrink)
In this commentary, I concentrate upon Ray Jackendoff's view of the proper foundations for semantics within the context of generative grammar. Jackendoff (2002) favors a form of internalism that he calls “conceptualism.” I argue that a retreat from realism to conceptualism is not only unwarranted, but even self-defeating, in that the issues that prompt his view will inevitably reappear if the latter is adopted.
In this paper, I argue that those who accept the conceptualist view in the philosophy of perception should reject the traditional view that colour indiscriminability is non-transitive. I start by outlining the general strategy that conceptualists have adopted in response to the familiar ‘fineness of grain’ objection, and I show why a commitment to what I call the indiscriminability claim seems to form a natural part of this strategy. I then show how together, the indiscriminability claim and the non-transitivity claim (...) –the claim that colour indiscriminability is non-transitive –entail a further, suspicious-looking claim that I call the problematic claim. My argument then splits into two parts. In the first part, I show why the conceptualist does indeed need to reject the problematic claim. Given that this claim is jointly entailed by the indiscriminability claim and the non-transitivity claim, the conceptualist is then left with a straight choice: reject the indiscriminability claim, or reject the non-transitivity claim. In the second part, I then explain why the conceptualist should choose the latter option. (shrink)
According to the conceptualist view in the philosophy of perception, we possess concepts for all the objects, properties, and relations which feature in our experiences. Richard Heck has recently argued that the phenomenon of illusory experience provides us with conclusive reasons to reject this view. In this paper, I examine Heck’s argument, I explain why I think that Bill Brewer’s conceptualist response to it is ineffective, and I then outline an alternative conceptualist response which I myself endorse. My argument turns (...) on the fact that both Heck, in constructing his objection to conceptualism, and Brewer, in responding to it, miss a crucial distinction between perceptual demonstrative concepts of objects, on the one hand, and perceptual demonstrative concepts of properties, on the other. (shrink)
Abstract Hanna proposes a version of non-conceptualism he closely associates with Kant. This paper takes issue with his proposal on two fronts. First, there are reasons to dispute whether any version of non-conceptualism can be rightly attributed to Kant. In addition to pointing out passages that conflict with Hanna?s interpretation, I also suggest ways in which the Kant of the opus postumum could integrate key insights of non-conceptualism into a basically conceptualist framework. In Part Two of the (...) paper, I turn to a more systematically oriented critique of Hanna?s nonconceptualism. Drawing on work by Gareth Evans, John McDowell, Sonia Sedivy, and Alva Noë, I argue that conceptualism is in a position to integrate the points which are taken by Hanna to speak most strongly in favor of non-conceptualism. In particular, I argue for the deep compatibility of conceptualism and direct realism. At the same time, I point to what I see as weaknesses in Hanna?s defence of non-conceptualism. (shrink)
Abstract Robert Hanna has recently advanced a theory of non-conceptual content, the central claim of which is that ?it is perfectly possible for there to be directly referential intuitions without concepts?. Hanna bases this claim in Kant?s account of intuition in the Critique of Pure Reason, and so extends his Kantian non-conceptualism beyond the epistemology of empirical knowledge into the realm of mathematics.?Thus, Hanna has proposed a Kantian non-conceptualist solution to a well-known dilemma set out by Paul Benacerraf in (...) his 1973 paper, ?Mathematical Truth?.?I argue that Hanna is right about Kant?s non-conceptualism, but mistaken in its application to Benacerraf?s Dilemma. (shrink)
God’s relationship to modalities poses a serious problem for the theist. If God determines modalities, then it seems that he can do anything. If, on the other hand, modalities determine God’s actions, then it seems that he is not genuinely free. Conceptualism offers a solution to this problem by maintaining that modalities are determined by what is conceivable for the intellects of the universe that God has chosen to create. Prior to the creation of intellects, there are no modalities (...) restricting God’s choice. Consequently, God is genuinely free. What is more, prior to creation there are no modalities, thus it is not the case that anything is possible. However, there are several problems with conceptualism. In particular, because the necessary features of the modal concepts themselves are independent of the shape of any intellect, no form of conceptualism will succeed as a solution to the problem of modalities. (shrink)
El artículo formula una interpretación de la computabilidad desde la perspectiva del conceptualismo realista. En esta interpretación, la noción central es la de concepto computable, el cual se entiende como cierto tipo de capacidad cognitiva. Aquí se muestra cómo difiere esa interpretación conceptualista de la clásica, denominada teoría de la computabilidad efectiva, en la cual el concepto fundamental es el de algoritmo; también se discute la relación entre estas dos interpretaciones. La discusión explora las consecuencias de la idea de que (...) los contenidos de los conceptos computables se pueden expresar en algoritmos. En un apéndice se plantean, muy brevemente, las diferencias entre el enfoque conceptualista de la computabilidad y otros dos enfoques no clásicos: el intuicionista y el representacionista./// This paper formulates an interpretaron of computability from the perspective of realist conceptualism. The key notion within this theory is that of a computable concept, where a concept is a cognitive capacity of a certain sort. Differences and connections between the conceptualist interpretation and the classical one, customarily referred to as the theory of effective computability, for which the key concept is that of an algoríthm, are shown in the text. Consequences of the idea that the content of computable concepts can be expressed in algoríthms are explored. An appendix briefly outlines how the present conceptualist approach differs from two other non-classical interpretations of computability, the intuitionist and the representationist. (shrink)
I advance a type of conceptualist argument for substance dualism based on the understandability of what it would be for something to be a spirit, e.g. what it would be for God to be a spirit. After presenting the argument formally, I clarify and defend its various premises with a special focus on what I take to be the most controversial one, namely, if thinking (i.e. conscious) matter is metaphysically possible, it is not the case that we have a distinct (...) positive concept of God's being a divine spirit. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences have (...) conceptual content. (1994, 162) Brewer agrees. Their view is sometimes called conceptualism; nonconceptualism is the rival position, that experiences have nonconceptual content. One initial obstacle is understanding what the issue is. What is conceptual content, and how is it different from nonconceptual content? Section 1 of this paper explains two versions of each of the rival positions: state (non)conceptualism and content (non)conceptualism; the latter pair is the locus of the relevant dispute. Two prominent arguments for content nonconceptualism—the richness argument and the continuity argument—both fail (section 2). McDowell’s and Brewer’s epistemological defenses of content conceptualism are also faulty (section 3). Section 4 gives a more simple-minded case for conceptualism; finally, some reasons are given for rejecting the claim—on one natural interpretation—that experiences justify beliefs. (shrink)
There are perceptual states whose representational content cannot even in principle be conceptual. If that claim is true, then at least some perceptual states have content whose semantic structure and psychological function are essentially distinct from the structure and function of conceptual content. Furthermore the intrinsically “orientable” spatial character of essentially non-conceptual content entails not only that all perceptual states contain non-conceptual content in this essentially distinct sense, but also that consciousness goes all the way down into so-called unconscious or (...) subpersonal mental states. Both my argument for the existence of essentially non-conceptual content and my theory of its structure and function have a Kantian provenance. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper we (i) identify the notion of ‘essentially non-conceptual content’ by critically analyzing the recent and contemporary debate about non-conceptual content, (ii) work out the basics of broadly Kantian theory of essentially non-conceptual content in relation to a corresponding theory of conceptual content, and then (iii) demonstrate one effective application of the Kantian theory of essentially non-conceptual content by using this theory to provide a ‘minimalist’ solution to the problem of perceptual self-knowledge which is raised by Strong (...) Externalism. (shrink)
In The Consciousness Paradox, Rocco Gennaro aims to solve an underlying paradox, namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views, including higher-order thought (HOT) theory, conceptualism, infant and animal ...
In this paper I argue that the Sellarsian Myth of the Given does not apply to all forms of Non-Conceptualism; that Kant is in fact a non-conceptualist of the right-thinking kind and not a Conceptualist, as most Kant-interpreters think; and that an intelligible and defensible Kantian Non-Conceptualism can be developed which supports the thesis that true perceptual beliefs are non-inferentially justified and also normatively funded by direct, embodied, intentional interactions with the manifest world (a.k.a. the Grip of the (...) Given). (shrink)
Abstract Both parties in the active philosophical debate concerning the conceptual character of perception trace their roots back to Kant's account of sensible intuition in the Critique of Pure Reason. This striking fact can be attributed to Kant's tendency both to assert and to deny the involvement of our conceptual capacities in sensible intuition. He appears to waver between these two positions in different passages, and can thus seem thoroughly confused on this issue. But this is not, in fact, the (...) case, for, as I will argue, the appearance of contradiction in his account stems from the failure of some commentators to pay sufficient attention to Kant's developmental approach to philosophy. Although he begins by asserting the independence of intuition, Kant proceeds from this nonconceptualist starting point to reveal a deeper connection between intuitions and concepts. On this reading, Kant's seemingly conflicting claims are actually the result of a careful and deliberate strategy for gradually convincing his readers of the conceptual nature of perception. (shrink)
The goal of the present paper is to defend against a certain line of attack the view that conscious experience of <span class='Hi'>color</span> is no more fine-grained that the repertoire of non- demonstrative concepts that a perceiver is able to bring to bear in perception. The line of attack in question is an alleged empirical argument - the Diachronic Indistinguishability Argument (DIA) - based on pairs of colors so similar that they can be discriminated when simultaneously presented but not when (...) presented across a memory delay. My aim here is to show that this argument fails. (shrink)
This paper addresses a number of closely related questions concerning Kant's model of intentionality, and his conceptions of unity and of magnitude [Gröβe]. These questions are important because they shed light on three issues which are central to the Critical system, and which connect directly to the recent analytic literature on perception: the issues are conceptualism, the status of the imagination, and perceptual atomism. In Section 1, I provide a sketch of the exegetical and philosophical problems raised by Kant's (...) views on these issues. I then develop, in Section 2, a detailed analysis of Kant's theory of perception as elaborated in both the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Judgment; I show how this analysis provides a preliminary framework for resolving the difficulties raised in Section 1. In Section 3, I extend my analysis of Kant's position by considering a specific test case: the Axioms of Intuition. I contend that one way to make sense of Kant's argument is by juxtaposing it with Russell's response to Bradley's regress; I focus in particular on the concept of ‘unity’. Finally, I offer, in Section 4, a philosophical assessment of the position attributed to Kant in Sections 2 and 3. I argue that, while Kant's account has significant strengths, a number of key areas remain underdeveloped; I suggest that the phenomenological tradition may be read as attempting to fill precisely those gaps. (shrink)
In this book, which thoroughly revises and greatly expands his classic work Sameness and Substance (1980), David Wiggins retrieves and refurbishes in the light of twentieth-century logic and logical theory certain conceptions of identity, of substance and of persistence through change that philosophy inherits from its past. In this new version, he vindicates the absoluteness, necessity, determinateness and all or nothing character of identity against rival conceptions. He defends a form of essentialism that he calls individuative essentialism, and then a (...) form of realism that he calls conceptualist realism. In a final chapter he advocates a human being-based conception of the identity and individuation of persons, arguing that any satisfactory account of personal memory must make reference to the life of the rememberer himself. This important book will appeal to a wide range of readers in metaphysics, philosophical logic, and analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Wiggins’ third book on substance Sameness and Substance Renewed is renewing his second one, Samenes and Substance, from 1980. The renewal is substantial, and is summarized by author himself in the Preface: completely new chapters are added, like the one on vagueness and identity; some important ones are completely rewritten, and fertile ideas from Putnam and Kripke are incorporated into the argument, bringing it in line with mainstream views on meaning and reference. The book deserves to be reviewed as a (...) new work, so I shall refrain here from looking back to its already famous ancestor. (shrink)
Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to address some of the main issues of contemporary jurisprudential methodology by considering the contribution of Jules Coleman to this subject. After a description of Coleman's methodological approach and a clarification of its philosophical background, the paper focuses on some related problems, such as the relation between linguistic meaning and conceptual content, the nature of legal concepts, the different aspects of the normativity of content, and the revisability of conceptual truths.
A first-order formulation of Le?niewski's ontology is formulated and shown to be interpretable within a free first-order logic of identity extended to include nominal quantification over proper and common-name concepts. The latter theory is then shown to be interpretable in monadic second-order predicate logic, which shows that the first-order part of Le?niewski's ontology is decidable.
Mandik (2012)understands color-consciousness conceptualism to be the view that one deploys in a conscious qualitative state concepts for every color consciously discriminated by that state. Some argue that the experimental evidence that we can consciously discriminate barely distinct hues that are presented together but cannot do so when those hues are presented in short succession suggests that we can consciously discriminate colors that we do not conceptualize. Mandik maintains, however, that this evidence is consistent with our deploying a variety (...) of nondemonstrative concepts for those colors and so does not pose a threat to conceptualism. But even if Mandik has shown that we deploy such concepts in these experimental conditions, there are cases of conscious states that discriminate colors but do not involve concepts of those colors. Mandik’s arguments sustain only a theory in the vicinity of conceptualism: The view that we possess concepts for every color we can discriminate consciously, but need not deploy those concepts in every conscious act of color discrimination. (shrink)
There has been much discussion about the nature and even existence of so-called “pure conscious events” (PCEs). PCEs are often described as mental events which are non-conceptual and lacking all experiential content (Forman 1990). For a variety of reasons, a number of authors have questioned both the accuracy of such a characterization and even the very existence of PCEs (Katz 1978, Bagger 1999). In this chapter, I take a somewhat different, but also critical, approach to the nature and possibility of (...) PCEs. I focus on several overlapping views found in recent analytic philosophy of mind and examine PCEs in light of them. After introducing terminology and some preliminary matters, I examine whether or not the “higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness” rules out the possibility of PCEs, and conversely, whether or not PCEs show that the HOT theory cannot apply to all conscious states. The HOT theory says that what makes a mental state conscious is that it is accompanied by a higher-order thought to the effect that “I am in mental state M now.” A related theme will be to assess PCEs in light of the recent debate between so-called “conceptualists” and those who believe that there are “non-conceptual contents of experience.” Conceptualism, to which I am very sympathetic, is basically the view that all conscious experience is structured by concepts possessed by the subject. I argue that PCEs are indeed conceptual and so no threat to conceptualism. For example, standard criticisms of conceptualism do not apply to PCEs. Finally, I examine the possibility that PCEs are not conscious at all. In the end, my overall conclusion is that we should hold that PCEs are indeed compatible with both HOT theory and conceptualism or seriously question the idea that PCEs are conscious at all. (shrink)
Is conceptual analysis required for reductive explanation? If there is no a priori entailment from microphysical truths to phenomenal truths, does reductive explanation of the phenomenal fail? We say yes (Chalmers 1996; Jackson 1994, 1998). Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker say no (Block and Stalnaker 1999).
This paper explores some of the areas where neuroscientific and philosophical issues intersect in the study of self-consciousness. Taking as point of departure a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) that appears to block philosophical elucidation of self-consciousness, the paper illustrates how the highly conceptual forms of self-consciousness emerge from a rich foundation of nonconceptual forms of self-awareness. Attention is paid in particular to the primitive forms of nonconceptual self-consciousness manifested in visual perception, somatic proprioception, spatial reasoning and interpersonal psychological interactions. (...) The study of these primitive forms of self-consciousness is an interdisciplinary enterprise and the paper considers a range of points of contact where philosophical work can illuminate work in the cognitive sciences, and vice versa. (shrink)
Any theory of perceptual experience should elucidate the way humans exploit it in activities proper to responsible agents, like justifying and revising their beliefs. In this paper I examine the hypothesis that this capacity requires the positing of a perceptual awareness involving a pre-doxastic actualization of concepts. I conclude that this hypothesis is neither necessary nor sufficient to account for empirical rationality. This leaves open the possibility to introduce a doxastic account, according to which the epistemic function of perception is (...) fulfilled by perceptual beliefs. I develop this claim by showing that the doxastic account satisfies a series of intuitive requirements of justification and belief revision. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to critically review several interpretations of Kantian sensible intuition. The first interpretation is the recent construal of Kantian sensible intuition as a mental analogue of a direct referential term. The second is the old, widespread assumption that Kantian intuitions do not refer to mind-independent entities, such as bodies and their physical properties, unless they are brought under categories. The third is the assumption that, by referring to mind-independent entities, sensible intuitions represent objectively in the (...) sense that they represent in a relative, perspective-independent manner. The fourth is the construal of Kantian sensible intuitions as non-conceptual content. In this paper, I support the alternative view that Kantian sensible representation is to be seen as iconic de re presentation of objects without representational content. (shrink)
Ever since Putnam and Burge launched their respective attacks on individualist accounts of meaning the individualist has felt squeezed for space.1 Very little maneuvering room, it seems, is left for the philosopher who wants to deny that meaning and mental content depend on the speaker's social environment. One option, popular amongst individualists, is to grant that reference is socially determined but argue that there is nevertheless a notion of meaning or content that can be understood individualistically. That is, the individualist (...) can opt for a. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences provide an important source of information about the world. It is clear that having the capacity of undergoing such experiences yields an evolutionary advantage. But why should humans have developed not only the ability of simply seeing, but also of seeing that something is thus and so? In this paper, I explore the significance of distinguishing perception from conception for the development of the kind of minds that creatures such as humans typically have. As will become clear, it (...) is crucial to pay careful attention to the different kinds of information that are involved in perceiving and conceiving (including the way such information is gathered and transmitted). By identifying such kinds of information and the role they play, we can then understand an important feature of why creatures like us have the kind of consciousness and mental processes we do. (shrink)
Résumé -/- Dans son premier livre (Philosophie de l’arithmétique 1891), Husserl élabore une très intéressante philosophie des mathématiques. Les concepts mathématiques sont interprétés comme des concepts de « deuxième ordre » auxquels on accède par une réflexion sur nos opérations mentales de numération. Il s’ensuit que la vérité de la proposition : « il y a trois pommes sur la table » ne consiste pas dans une relation mythique quelconque avec la réalité extérieure au psychique (où le nombre trois doit (...) être exemplifié de quelque manière), mais bien dans le fait que les pommes sur la table peuvent être dénombrées correctement en tant qu’elles sont au nombre de trois. Nous avons affaire ici à une position « antiréaliste » fondant la vérité mathématique non pas dans un monde platonicien, mais bien sur le concept de rectitude de nos opérations formelles. -/- Abstract -/- In his first book (Philosophy of Arithmetic 1891) Husserl develops a very interesting philosophy of mathematics. Mathematical concepts are interpreted as « second order » concepts gained by reflection on our mental operations of counting. Accordingly the truth of the proposition « There are three apples on the table » consists not in any mythical relation to the extra-mental reality (where the number three should be somehow exemplified), but rather in the fact that the apples on the table can be correctly counted as three. We have here an « anti-realist » position grounding the mathematical truth not in platonic realms, but rather in the concept of correctness of our formal operations. (shrink)
Das Buch bietet die erste systematische esamtdarstellung der Ontologie Brentanos. Es zeigt, daß es in Brentanos ontologischem Denken drei Perioden gibt: die frühe "konzeptualistische" (1862-1874), die mittlere "deskriptiv-psychologische" (1874-1904) und die späte "reistische" (1904-1917). Diese drei Perioden werden in ihrer Kontinuität und komplizierten Dialektik unter Rückgriff auf unveröffentlichte Manuskripte Brentanos dargestellt. Dabei wird von dem logischen Handwerkszeug der zeitgenössischen analytischen Ontologie Gebrauch gemacht. Das Buch wendet sich nicht nur an Brentano-Forscher, sondern an alle an ontologischen Fragen Interessierten. Die Analysen zur (...) Ontologie der Intentionalität sind insbesondere für Phänomenologen und für Forscher im Bereich der cognitive science von Interesse. (shrink)
This book offers a Wittgensteinian study of concept possession and of the nature of conceptual investigation in philosophy. It is both an ideal advanced introduction to Wittgenstein's philosophy and an original treatment of some of its most crucial yet least developed regions. The book is written as a Socratic dialogue, which frames the discussion within a backward glance to Plato's Theory of Forms. In so doing it makes a bold claim as to Wittgenstein's place in Western philosophy.
Presented here is an argument for the existence of universals. Like Church's translation-test argument, the argument turns on considerations from intensional logic. But whereas Church's argument turns on the fine-grained informational content of intensional sentences, this argument turns on the distinctive logical features of 'that'-clauses embedded within modal contexts. And unlike Church's argument, this argument applies against truth-conditions nominalism and also against conceptualism and in re realism (the doctrine that universals are ontologically dependent upon the existence of instances). (...) So if the argument is successful, it serves as a defense of full ante rem realism (the doctrine that universals exist independently of the existence of instances). The argument emphasizes the need for a unified treatment of intensional statements -- modal statements as well as statements of assertion and belief. The larger philosophical moral will be that ante rem universals are uniquely suited to carry a certain kind of modal information. Linguistic entities, mind-dependent universals, and instance-dependent universals are incapable of serving that function. (shrink)
McDowell's claim that "in mature human beings, embodied coping is permeated with mindedness",1 suggests a new version of the mentalist myth which, like the others, is untrue to the phenomenon. The phenomena show that embodied skills, when we are fully absorbed in enacting them, have a kind of non-mental content that is non-conceptual, non-propositional, non-rational and non-linguistic. This is not to deny that we can monitor our activity while performing it. For solving problems, learning a new skill, receiving coaching, and (...) so forth, such monitoring is invaluable. But monitoring what we are doing as we are doing it degrades performance to at best competence. On McDowell's view, there is no way to account for such a degradation in performance since the same sort of content would be involved whether we were fully absorbed in or paying attention to what we were doing. McDowell claims that it is an advantage of his conceptualism that it avoids any foundationalist attempt to build up the objective world on the basis of an indubitable Given or any other ground-floor experience. And, indeed, if the world is all that is the case and our minds are unproblematically open to it, all experience is on the same footing. But one must distinguish motor intentionality, and the interrelated solicitations our coping body is intertwined with, from conceptual intentionality and the world of propositional structures it opens onto. The existential phenomenologist can then agree with McDowell in rejecting traditional foundationalisms, while yet affirming and describing the ground-floor role of motor intentionality in providing the support on which all forms of conceptual intentionality are based. (shrink)
According to Conceptualism, philosophy is an independent discipline that can be pursued from the armchair because philosophy seeks truths that can be discovered purely on the basis of our understanding of expressions and the concepts they express. In his recent book, The Philosophy of Philosophy, Timothy Williamson argues that while philosophy can indeed be pursued from the armchair, we should reject any form of Conceptualism. In this paper, we show that Williamson’s arguments against Conceptualism are not successful, (...) and we sketch a way to understand understanding that shows that there is a clear sense in which we can indeed come to know the answers to (many) philosophical questions purely on the basis of understanding. (shrink)
The dissertation addresses a debate in the philosophy of perception between conceptualists and nonconceptualists. Its principal thesis is that the intentional content of a perceptual experience is the content of a thought that a reflective subject is in a position to think if she has the experience. I call this claim, endorsed by conceptualists, the thesis of content congruence. Two principal lines of argument are put forward for it. The first, ‘simple’ argument contends that a perceptual experience is a state (...) in which it perceptually appears to the subject that things are thus and so; that a reflective subject who has an experience is in a position to think that things are thus and so; and that the subject in question, in doing so, thinks a thought with the same content as her experience. The second line of argument appeals to the role of perceptual experience in intentional explanation of observational beliefs. It makes the case that such explanation presumes that there is a non-trivial, non-vacuous law linking perceptual experiences with observational beliefs, and argues that an adherent of content congruence is significantly better placed to formulate such a law (consistently with her view) than her ‘content nonconceptualist’ opponent. The thesis of content congruence has often been associated in the literature with the thesis of state conceptualism, i.e. the claim that the representational capacities in virtue of the activation of which a perceptual experience has the content it has are conceptual. I reject the latter, and explain why we should not expect the denial of that claim, i.e. state nonconceptualism, to be incompatible with content congruence. I defend moreover the thesis of content congruence against the objection that it confuses sense and reference, and the objection that it leads to a viciously circular or otherwise inadequate account of observational or demonstrative concepts. (shrink)
The character of computational modelling of cognition depends on an underlying theory of representation. Classical cognitive science has exploited the syntax/semantics theory of representation that derives from logic. But this has had the consequence that the kind of psychological explanation supported by classical cognitive science is
psychological phenomena are modelled in terms of relations that hold between concepts, and between the sensors/effectors and concepts. This kind of explanation is inappropriate for the Proper Treatment of Connectionism (Smolensky 1988).
This note aims to clarify which arguments do, and which arguments do not, tell against Conceptualism, the thesis that the representational content of experience is exclusively conceptual. Contrary to Sean Kelly's position, conceptualism has no difficulty accommodating the phenomena of color constancy and of situation-dependence. Acknowledgment of nonconceptual content is also consistent with holding that experiences have nonrepresentational subjective features. The crucial arguments against conceptualism stem from animal perception, and from a distinction, elaborated in the final section (...) of the paper, between content which is objective and content which is also conceived of by its subject as objective. (shrink)
This article is a modified version in translation of the original Dutch version that appeared in Tijdschrift voor Filosofie 4 (2010) / * Inspired by Kant's account of intuition and concepts, John McDowell has forcefully argued that the relation between sensible content and concepts is such that sensible content does not severally contribute to cognition but always only in conjunction with concepts. This view is known as conceptualism. Recently, Robert Hanna and Lucy Allais, among others, have brought against this (...) view the charge that it neglects the possibility of the existence of essentially non-conceptual content that is not conceptualized or subject to conceptualization. Their defence against McDowell amounts to non-conceptualism. Both views believe that intuition is synthesized content in Kant's sense. In this article I am particularly interested in how their views are true to Kant. I argue that although McDowell is right that intuition is only epistemically relevant in conjunction with concepts, I also believe that Hanna and Allais are right with regard to the existence of essentially non-conceptual content, but that they are wrong with regard to intuition being synthesized content in Kant's sense. I also point out the common failure to take account of the modal nature of Kant's argument for the relation between intuition and concept. (shrink)
According to Conceptualists like John McDowell and Bill Brewer, the representational content of perceptual experiences is wholly conceptual. One of the main!and only!arguments they advance for this claim has to do with the epistemological role of perceptual experiences. I focus on Bill Brewers "1999# version of the argument. I show why Brewer fails to satisfactorily motivate the premises of his argument, and suggest that opponents of Conceptualism could accept these premises without thereby endorsing the conclusion. Finally, I consider whether (...) the conclusion really supports Conceptualism. (shrink)
The view that the content of experience is conceptual is often felt to conflict with the empiricist intuition that experience precedes thought, rather than vice versa. This concern is explicitly articulated by Ayers as an objection both to McDowell and Davidson, and to the conceptualist view more generally. The paper aims to defuse the objection in its general form by presenting a version of conceptualism which is compatible with empiricism. It proposes an account of observational concepts on which possession (...) of such a concept involves more than the ability for perceptual discrimination, but less than the capacity to employ the concept in inferences: it consists in the capacity to perceptually discriminate objects with the awareness that one is discriminating as one ought. This understanding of concept-possession allows us make sense of experiences' having conceptual content without supposing that the subject must grasp the relevant concepts prior to having those experiences. (shrink)
Inspired by Kant's account of intuition and concepts, John McDowell has forcefully argued that the relation between sensible content and concepts is such that sensible content does not severally contribute to cognition but always only in conjunction with concepts. This view is known as conceptualism. Recently, Robert Hanna and Lucy Allais, among others, have brought against this view the charge that it neglects the possibility of the existence of essentially non-conceptual content that is not conceptualized or subject to conceptualization. (...) Their defense against McDowell amounts to non-conceptualism. Both views believe that intuition is synthesized content in Kant's sense. In this article, I am particularly interested in how their views are true to Kant. I argue that although McDowell is right that intuition is only epistemically relevant in conjunction with concepts, I also believe that Hanna and Allais are right with regard to the existence of essentially non-conceptual content, but that they are wrong with regard to intuition being synthesized content in Kant's sense. I also point out the common failure to take account of the modal nature of Kant's argument for the relation between intuition and concept. [the article is written in Dutch]. (shrink)
I criticize recent nonconceptualist readings of Kant’s account of perception on the grounds that the strategy of the Deduction requires that understanding be involved in the synthesis of imagination responsible for the intentionality of perceptual experience. I offer an interpretation of the role of understanding in perceptual experience as the consciousness of normativity in the association of one’s representations. This leads to a reading of Kant which is conceptualist, but in a way which accommodates considerations favoring nonconceptualism, in particular the (...) primitive character of perceptual experience relative to thought and judgment. (shrink)
This paper provides a novel argument against conceptualism, the claim that the content of human experience, including perceptual experience, is entirely conceptual. Conceptualism entails that the content of experience is limited by the concepts that we possess and deploy. I present an argument to show that such a view is exceedingly costly—if the nature of our experience is entirely conceptual, then we cannot account for concept learning: all perceptual concepts must be innate. The version of nativism that results (...) is incompatible with naturalistic accounts of concept learning. This cost can be avoided, and concept learning accounted for if nonconceptual content of experience is admitted. (shrink)
The most commonly heard proposals for reducing possible worlds to language succumb to a simple cardinality argument: it can be shown that there are more possible worlds than there are linguistic entities provided by the proposal. In this paper, I show how the standard proposals can be generalized in a natural way so as to make better use of the resources available to them, and thereby circumvent the cardinality argument. Once it is seen just what the limitations are on these (...) more general proposals, it can be clearly seen where the real difficulty lies with any attempt to reduce possible worlds to language. Roughly, the difficulty is this: no actual language could have the descriptive resources needed to represent all the ways things might have been. I conclude by arguing that this same difficulty spells doom for any nominalist or conceptualist proposal for reducing possible worlds. (shrink)
Conceptualist accounts of the representational content of perceptual experiences have it that a subject _S_ can experience no object, property, relation, etc., unless _S_ "i# possesses and "ii# exercises concepts for such object, property, or relation. Perceptual experiences, on such a view, represent the world in a way that is conceptual.
Husserl’s Logical Investigations has undergone explicitly conceptualist and non-conceptualist interpretations. For Richard Cobb-Stevens, he has extended understanding into the domain of sensuous intuition, leaving no simple perceptions that are actually separated from higher-level understanding. According to Kevin Mulligan, Husserl does in fact sunder nominal and propositional seeing from the simple or straightforward—and yet interpretative—seeing of particulars. To see simply is not to exercise an individual meaning or a general concept. Arguing that Logical Investigations provides evidence for both views, I endeavour (...) to show that the account of perceptual consciousness in Husserl’s subsequent work is far more clear and consistent. It is one of growing beyond the situation portrayed by Mulligan and into the one explicated by Cobb-Stevens. Though they are notionally separable, pre-conceptual syntheses at the passive and noematic levels are inevitably interwoven with conceptual and categorial articulations in a developed consciousness. (shrink)
This Thesis engages with contemporary philosophical controversies about the nature of dispositional properties or powers and the relationship they have to their non-dispositional counterparts. The focus concerns fundamentality. In particular, I seek to answer the question, ‘What fundamental properties suffice to account for the manifest world?’ The answer I defend is that fundamental categorical properties need not be invoked in order to derive a viable explanation for the manifest world. My stance is a field-theoretic view which describes the world as (...) a single system comprised of pure power, and involves the further contention that ‘pure power’ should not be interpreted as ‘purely dispositional’, if dispositionality means potentiality, possibility or otherwise unmanifested power or ability bestowed upon some bearer. The theoretical positions examined include David Armstrong’s Categoricalism, Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties, Brian Ellis’s New Essentialism, Ullin Place’s Conceptualism, Charles Martin’s and John Heil’s Identity Theory of Properties and Rom Harré’s Theory of Causal Powers. The central concern of this Thesis is to examine reasons for holding a pure-power theory, and to defend such a stance. This involves two tasks. The first requires explaining what plays the substance role in a pure-power world. This Thesis argues that fundamental power, although not categorical, can be considered ontologically-robust and thus able to fulfil the substance role. A second task—answering the challenge put forward by Richard Swinburne and thereafter replicated in various neo-Swinburne arguments—concerns how the manifestly qualitative world can be explained starting from a pure-power base. The Light-like Network Account is put forward in an attempt to show how the manifest world can be derived from fundamental pure power. (shrink)
Abstract In ?Beyond the Myth of the Myth: A Kantian Theory of Non-Conceptual Content?, Robert Hanna argues for a very strong kind of non-conceptualism, and claims that this kind of non-conceptualism originally has been developed by Kant. But according to ?Kant?s Non-Conceptualism, Rogue Objects and the Gap in the B Deduction?, Kant?s non-conceptualism poses a serious problem for his argument for the objective validity of the categories, namely the problem that there is a gap in the (...) B Deduction. This gap is that the B Deduction goes through only if conceptualism is true, but Kant is a non-conceptualist. In this paper, I will argue, contrary to what Hanna claims, that there is not a gap in the B Deduction. (shrink)
In the Fifth Meditation, Descartes makes a remarkable claim about the ontological status of geometrical figures. He asserts that an object such as a triangle has a 'true and immutable nature' that does not depend on the mind, yet has being even if there are no triangles existing in the world. This statement has led many commentators to assume that Descartes is a Platonist regarding essences and in the philosophy of mathematics. One problem with this seemingly natural reading is that (...) it contradicts the conceptualist account of universals that one finds in the Principles of Philosophy and elsewhere. In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of the notion of a true and immutable nature which reconciles the Fifth Meditation with the conceptualism of Descartes' other work. Specifically, I argue that Descartes takes natures to be innate ideas considered in terms of their so-called 'objective being'. (shrink)
My research in metaphysical realism and analytic metaphysics consists mainly in attacks on analytic metaphysics. My reason for this is a result of the fact that I am a mereological nihilis t, a blob theorist , an atomist (philosophic atomist), and a specific sort of conceptualist (see below). The variety atomism I argue for is similar to the traditional atomism of some of the ancient Greek and ancient..
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