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)
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)
A recent debate in Kant scholarship concerns the role of concepts in Kant’s theory of perception. Roughly, proponents of a "conceptualist" interpretation argue that for Kant, the possession of concepts is a prior condition for perception, while "nonconceptualist" interpreters deny this. The debate has two parts. One part concerns whether possessing empirical concepts is a prior condition for having empirical intuitions. A second part concerns whether Kant allows empirical intuitions without a priori concepts. Outside of Kant interpretation, the contemporary debate (...) about Conceptualism concerns whether perception requires empirical concepts. But, as I argue, the debate about whether Kant allows intuitions without empirical concepts does not show whether Kant is a conceptualist. Even if Kant allows intuitions without empirical concepts, it could still be a priori concepts are required. While the debate could show that Kant is a conceptualist, I argue it does not. Finally, I sketch a novel way that the conceptualist interpreter might win the debate: roughly, by arguing that possessing a priori concepts is a prior condition for having appearances. (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)
In the recent debate between conceptualists and nonconceptualists about perceptual content, Kant’s notion of intuition has been invoked on both sides. Conceptualists claim Kant as a forerunner of their position, arguing that Kantian intuitions have the same kind of content as conceptual thought. On the other hand, nonconceptualists claim Kant as a forerunner of their own position, contending that Kantian intuitions have a distinctly nonconceptual kind of content. In this paper, I argue first, that both sides are wrong about Kant, (...) secondly, that neither side can properly account for the epistemic function of intuition, and thirdly, that Kant’s own notion of intuition contains the resources for a third alternative. The epistemic function of an intuition for Kant is to furnish the sensory representation of an object of cognition. Conceptualism cannot account for this function because it construes perception as a species of thought. As a proper appreciation of Kant’s reasons for insisting upon the heterogeneity of thought and perception puts one in a position to see, any view that does this will fail to do justice to the distinctly sensory nature of intuition. Nonconceptualism, on the other hand, cannot account for the epistemic function of intuition because it views intuition as self-standing, and thus as completely independent from thought. As a consequence, nonconceptualism is not entitled to claim that an intuition is itself a cognitive state. I show that Kant’s actual view avoids both these extremes because it involves a different way of conceiving how perception is informed by conceptual thought. Building on this conception, Kant is able to preserve the distinctly sensory nature of intuition, while also securing proper cognitive standing for it. As a result, Kant’s notion of intuition provides the resources for an alternative account of how thought relates to the senses – one that avoids the shortcomings of the positions staked out in the contemporary debate. (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)
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)
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 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)
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.
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)
According to non-conceptualist interpretations, Kant held that the application of concepts is not necessary for perceptual experience. Some have motivated non-conceptualism by noting the affinities between Kant’s account of perception and contemporary relational theories of perception. In this paper I argue i) that non-conceptualism cannot provide an account of the Transcendental Deduction and thus ought to be rejected; and ii) that this has no bearing on the issue of whether Kant endorsed a relational account of perceptual experience.
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)
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)
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)
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 ...
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 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)
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)
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)
Two fundamental categories of any ontology are the category of objects and the category of universals. We discuss the question whether either of these categories can be infinite or not. In the category of objects, the subcategory of physical objects is examined within the context of different cosmological theories regarding the different kinds of fundamental objects in the universe. Abstract objects are discussed in terms of sets and the intensional objects of conceptual realism. The category of universals is discussed in (...) terms of the three major theories of universals: nominalism, realism, and conceptualism. The finitude of mind pertains only to conceptualism. We consider the question of whether or not this finitude precludes impredicative concept formation. An explication of potential infinity, especially as applied to concepts and expressions, is given. We also briefly discuss a logic of plural objects, or groups of single objects (individuals), which is based on Bertrand Russell’s (1903, The principles of mathematics, 2nd edn. (1938). Norton & Co, NY) notion of a class as many. The universal class as many does not exist in this logic if there are two or more single objects; but the issue is undecided if there is just one individual. We note that adding plural objects (groups) to an ontology with a countable infinity of individuals (single objects) does not generate an uncountable infinity of classes as many. (shrink)
Conceptual realism begins with a conceptualist theory of the nexus of predication in our speech and mental acts, a theory that explains the unity of those acts in terms of their referential and predicable aspects. This theory also contains as an integral part an intensional realism based on predicate nominalization and a reflexive abstraction in which the intensional contents of our concepts are “object”-ified, and by which an analysis of predication with intensional verbs can be given. Through a second nominalization (...) of the common names that are part of conceptual realism’s theory of reference (via quantifier phrases), the theory also accounts for both plural reference and predication and mass noun reference and predication. Finally, a separate nexus of predication based on natural kinds and the natural properties and relations nomologically related to those natural kinds, is also an integral part of the framework of conceptual realism. (shrink)
We consider a formal language whose logical syntax involves both modal and tense propositional operators, as well as sortal quantifiers, sortal identities and (second order) quantifiers over sortals. We construct an intensional semantics for the language and characterize a formal logical system which we prove to be sound and complete with respect to the semantics. Conceptualism is the philosophical background of the semantic system.
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)
The paper is a critical examination of Peacocke’s pioneering work on concepts as grounding the possibility of a priori knowledge. It focuses upon his more recent turn to reference and referential domain, and the two enlargements of the purely conceptual bases for apriority, namely appeal to conceptions and to direct referential sensitivity. I argue that the two are needed, but they produce more problem for the strategy as a whole than they solve. I conclude by suggesting that they point to (...) a possible Benacerraf-like dilemma for conceptualist accounts of armchair knowledge: if concepts are akin to representational contents and/or conceptions, they certainly do not metaphysically determine anything. At best, they fallibly guide our inquiry and get corrected almost by each new important discovery about the nature of their referents. If what is meant by “concept” is a Fregean, objectively correct and metaphysically potent entity, there is little doubt in its power to determine its referent(s), but there is a huge epistemic problem of how we grasp such Platonic concepts. Peacocke’s early metaphysics of concept, which offered beginnings of an answer, is put in jeopardy by the new referential turn, and his valiant attempts to pass between the multiple horns of this dilemma seem to face a lot of difficulties. (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.
This article discusses the role of representative strategies in twentieth-century Russian culture. Just as Russia interacted with Europe in the Marquis de Custine’s time via discourse and representation, in the twentieth century Russia re-entered European consciousness by simulating ‘socialism’. In the post-Soviet era, the nation aspired to be admitted to the ‘European house’ by simulating a ‘market economy’, ‘democracy’, and ‘postmodernism’. But in reality Russia remains the same country as before, torn between the reality of its own helplessness and poverty, (...) and the messianic myth of its own greatness. Post-Soviet culture is a product of Stalinist culture. ‘Russian postmodernism’ was created less by artists, writers, poets, and film makers, than by theorists and critics. At the beginning of the 1990s, a need to describe contemporary Russian culture emerged. In this way, ‘Russian postmodernism’ arose from the desire to ‘sell’ projects in the West—from the simple obligation to describe socialist experience in concrete, transferable terms that Westerners could grasp. The nostalgia experienced by the post-Soviet era creates its own simulated postmodernism , in which the matrices of the construction and functioning of culture cease to be connected with specifically Russian (Soviet) history, and instead reproduce Western models almost exactly. We are facing yet another attempt at radical cultural modernization. If the first attempt (revolutionary culture) was the most original and fruitful, and the second (Stalinist culture, Socialist Realism) was less productive but still original, then the third, post-Soviet, attempt (rich in individuality, but lacking in original ideas or style) is for the moment the least productive and original. If we exclude sots-art (conceptualism) from ‘Russian postmodernism’, there would be nothing left. Clearly, an original cultural model in post-Soviet Russia will not take shape until original strategies for processing the country’s cultural past are developed. In their turn, these strategies can only result from a radical transformation of post-Soviet identity into a new, genuinely Russian one. (shrink)