About this topic
Summary Do we employ concepts in perception for every feature that we perceive? Discrimination between shades of color outruns memory -you can distinguish more shades than you can identify. But does that fact entail that you can experience a specific shade of red, without having a concept of that specific shade? These issues are sharpened by settling on what concepts are, and what it is to "employ" a concept in perception. 
Key works Kant 1991 is a reference point for discussions of the role of concepts in perception. Evans 1982 and Christopher 1992 offer key defenses and definitions of nonconceptual content. McDowell 1994 and Brewer 1999 offer key defenses and definitions of conceptual content. Stalnaker 2003 relates the issue to whether contents are structured.
Introductions Christopher 1992 introduces several kinds of non-conceptual content.McDowell 1994 makes a case for the necessity of concepts for perception, and argues against non-conceptual content. Brewer 2005 and Byrne 2005 present two sides of the issue. Speaks 2005 and Byrne 2003 contain useful overviews of the issues.
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  1. The Constitution Argument Against Conceptualism.André Abath - 2008 - Sorites 20:49-66.
    According to philosophers such as McDowell and Brewer, the contents of perceptual experience are conceptual. This view came to be known as Conceptualism. However, a number of critics have argued that they are wrong in thinking this, for they claim that there is an argument, the so-called Fineness of Grain Argument, which is valid and sound, and has as its consequence the falsity of Conceptualism. Although McDowell and Brewer seem to acknowledge that the Fineness of Grain Argument, if valid and (...)
  2. Nonconceptual Content, Fineness of Grain and Recognitional Capacities.André Abath - 2005 - Abstracta 1 (2):193-206.
    One of the current debates in philosophy of mind is whether the content of perceptual experiences is conceptual or nonconceptual. The proponents of nonconceptual content, or nonconceptualists, typically support their position by appealing to the so-called Fineness of Grain Argument, which, in rough terms, has as its conclusion that we do not possess concepts for everything we perceive. In his Mind and World, John McDowell tried to give a response to the argument, and show that we do possess concepts for (...)
  3. Brewer's Switching Argument.André J. Abath - 2012 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 85 (1):255-277.
    In his Perception and Reason, Bill Brewer argues that one can only have empirical beliefs if one’s perceptual experiences serve as reasons for such beliefs. His argument for this idea relies on a premise according to which in order for the relations with perceptual experience to determine the contents of empirical beliefs, these relations must be reason-giving. He offers an argument for this premise, the so-called Switching Argument. In this paper, I show that the Switching Argument does not work, in (...)
  4. A Note on McDowell's Response to the Fineness of Grain Argument.Andre J. Abath - 2008 - Dialogue 47 (3-4):677-.
  5. Kelly and McDowell on Perceptual Content.Frederick R. Ablondi - 2002 - Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy 7.
    [0] In a recent issue of _EJAP_, Sean Kelly [1998] defended the position that perceptual content is non-conceptual. More specifically, he claimed that John McDowell's view that concepts involved in perception can be understood as expressible through the use of demonstratives is ultimately untenable. In what follows, I want to look more closely at Kelly's position, as well as suggest possible responses one could make on McDowell's behalf.
  6. Non-Conceptual Content, Subject-Centered Information and the Naturalistic Demand.Juan José Acero - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:359-367.
  7. Perception.Kathleen Akins (ed.) - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
  8. Nonconceptualism and the Cognitive Process of Perception.Emmanuel Akintona - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (1).
    Gareth Evans was first to express the idea that our perceptual experience is more detailed than what our concepts possess and this brings in the idea of nonconceptualism. The nonconceptualist claims that creatures without conceptual ability can be in a content-bearing state since they do not possess concept, memory or linguistic ability. Concepts are the constituents of those intentional contents that are the complete truth-evaluable contents of judgment and belief. This paper examines the possibility of nonconceptual content in human perception (...)
  9. Perception, Non-Propositional Content and the Justification of Perceptual Judgments.Jan Almäng - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (1):1-23.
    It is often argued that for a perceptual experience to be able to justify perceptual judgments, the perceptual experience must have a propositional content. For, it is claimed, only propositions can bear logical relations such as implication to each other. In this paper, this claim is challenged. It is argued that whereas perceptions and judgments both have intentional content, their contents have different structures. Perceptual content does not have a propositional structure. Perceptions and judgments can nevertheless have the same cognitive (...)
  10. Affordances and the Nature of Perceptual Content.Jan Almäng - 2008 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (2):161-177.
    According to John McDowell, representational perceptual content is conceptual through and through. This paper criticizes this view by claiming that there is a certain kind of representational and non-conceptual perceptual content that is sensitive to bodily skills. After a brief introduction to McDowell's position, Merleau-Ponty's notion of body schema and Gibson's notion of affordance are presented. It is argued that affordances are constitutive of representational perceptual content, and that at least some affordances, the so-called 'conditional affordances', are essentially related to (...)
  11. Perception and Conception.William P. Alston - 1998 - In Pragmatism, Reason, and Norms: A Realistic Assessment. New York: Fordham University Press.
  12. Pragmatism, Reason, and Norms: A Realistic Assessment.William P. Alston - 1998 - New York: Fordham University Press.
  13. The Inessential Quasi-Indexical.Peter Alward - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (2):235 - 255.
    In this paper, I argue, contra Perry, that the existence of locating beliefs does not require the abandonment of the analysis of belief as a relation between subjects and propositions. I argue that what the "problem of the essential indexical" reveals is that a complete explanation of behaviour requires both an explanation of the type of behaviour the agent engaged in and an explanation of why she engaged in it in the circumstances that she did. And I develop an account (...)
  14. Non-Articulable Content and the Realm of Reasons.Stella González Arnal - 2006 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):121-131.
  15. Sense Experience, Concepts and Content, Objections to Davidson and McDowell.Michael Ayers - 2004 - In Ralph Schumacher (ed.), Perception and Reality - From Descartes to the Present. mentis.
    Philosophers debate whether all, some or none of the represcntational content of our sensory experience is conccptual, but the technical term "concept" has different uses. It is commonly linked more or less closely with the notions of judgdment and reasoning, but that leaves open the possibility that these terms share a systematic ambiguity or indeterminacy. Donald Davidson, however, holds an unequivocal and consistent, if paradoxical view that there are strictly speaking no psychological states with representational or intentional content except the (...)
  16. Can There Be a New Empiricism?Michael Ayers - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 7:111-127.
    ‘Empiricism’ has become for many a dirty word, and many writers have in mind the kind of neo-Humean Positivism that is the target of Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument, Quine’s ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, or Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception. But examination of the Empiricist tradition before Hume uncovers views that do not involve anything like the much-abused “Myth of the Given” or twentieth-century sensedatum theory. This paper identifiesthe particular line of seventeenth-century thought that eventually gave rise to sense-datum theory, and (...)
  17. Is Perceptual Content Ever Conceptual?Michael R. Ayers - 2002 - Philosophical Books 43 (1):5-17.
  18. Jerry Fodor on Non-Conceptual Content.Katalin Balog - 2009 - Synthese 167 (3):311 - 320.
    Proponents of non-conceptual content have recruited it for various philosophical jobs. Some epistemologists have suggested that it may play the role of “the given” that Sellars is supposed to have exorcised from philosophy. Some philosophers of mind (e.g., Dretske) have suggested that it plays an important role in the project of naturalizing semantics as a kind of halfway between merely information bearing and possessing conceptual content. Here I will focus on a recent proposal by Jerry Fodor. In a recent paper (...)
  19. Holism and Horizon: Husserl and McDowell on Non-Conceptual Content.Michael D. Barber - 2008 - Husserl Studies 24 (2):79-97.
    John McDowell rejects the idea that non-conceptual content can rationally justify empirical claims—a task for which it is ill-fitted by its non-conceptual nature. This paper considers three possible objections to his views: he cannot distinguish empty conception from the perceptual experience of an object; perceptual discrimination outstrips the capacity of concepts to keep pace; and experience of the empirical world is more extensive than the conceptual focusing within it. While endorsing McDowell’s rejection of what he means by non-conceptual content, and (...)
  20. A Peculiar Intuition: Kant's Conceptualist Account of Perception.Nathan Bauer - 2012 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (3):215-237.
    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 (...)
  21. Switched-on Consciousness - Clarifying What It Means - Response to de Quincey.Michael Beaton, J. Bricklin, Louis C. Charland, J. C. W. Edwards, Ilya B. Farber, Bill Faw, Rocco J. Gennaro, C. Kaernbach, C. M. H. Nunn, Jaak Panksepp, Jesse J. Prinz, Matthew Ratcliffe, Jacob J. Ross, S. Murray, Henry P. Stapp & Douglas F. Watt - 2006 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (4):7-12.
  22. Analogue Magnitudes, the Generality Constraint, and Nonconceptual Thought.Jacob Beck - 2014 - Mind 123 (492):1155-1165.
    I reply to comments by David Miguel Gray and Grant Gillett concerning my paper, ‘The Generality Constraint and the Structure of Thought’.
  23. The Generality Constraint and the Structure of Thought.Jacob Beck - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):563-600.
    According to the Generality Constraint, mental states with conceptual content must be capable of recombining in certain systematic ways. Drawing on empirical evidence from cognitive science, I argue that so-called analogue magnitude states violate this recombinability condition and thus have nonconceptual content. I further argue that this result has two significant consequences: it demonstrates that nonconceptual content seeps beyond perception and infiltrates cognition; and it shows that whether mental states have nonconceptual content is largely an empirical matter determined by the (...)
  24. A New Framework for Conceptualism.John Bengson, Enrico Grube & Daniel Z. Korman - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):167 - 189.
    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 (...)
  25. Coping Without Foundations: On Dreyfus's Use of Merleau-Ponty.J. C. Berendzen - 2010 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (5):629-649.
    Hubert Dreyfus has recently invoked the work of Maurice Merleau? Ponty in criticizing the?Myth of the Mental?. In criticizing that supposed myth, Dreyfus argues for a kind of foundationalism that takes embodied coping to be a self?sufficient layer of human experience that supports our?higher? mental activities. In turn, Merleau? Ponty?s phenomenology is found, in Dreyfus?s recent writings, to corroborate this foundationalism. While Merleau? Ponty would agree with many of Dreyfus?s points, this paper argues that he would not, in fact, agree (...)
  26. Coping with Nonconceptualism: On Merleau-Ponty and McDowell.J. C. Berendzen - 2009 - Philosophy Today 53 (2):162-173.
  27. Review of Modest Nonconceptualism: Epistemology, Phenomenology, and Content by Eva Schmidt. [REVIEW]Jacob Berger - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (4):600-606.
  28. The Distinction Between Conceptual and Nonconceptual Content.Jose Luis Bermudez - 2009 - In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
    1 Domains of application 2 Formulating the conceptual/nonconceptual distinction 3 Is there such a thing as nonconceptual content? 4 Developing the account of nonconceptual content .
  29. What is at Stake in the Debate on Nonconceptual Content?José Luis Bermúdez - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):55–72.
    It is now 25 years since Gareth Evans introduced the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content in The Varieties of Reference. This is a fitting time to take stock of what has become a complex and extended debate both within philosophy and at the interface between philosophy and psychology. Unfortunately, the debate has become increasingly murky as it has become increasingly ramified. Much of the contemporary discussion does not do full justice to the powerful theoretical tool originally proposed by Evans (...)
  30. Nonconceptual Mental Content.Jose Luis Bermudez - 2003 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  31. Cognitive Impenetrability, Phenomenology, and Nonconceptual Content.José Luis Bermúdez - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (3):367-368.
    This commentary discusses Pylyshyn's model of perceptual processing in the light of the philosophical distinction between the conceptual and the nonconceptual content of perception. Pylyshyn's processing distinction maps onto an important distinction in the phenomenology of visual perception.
  32. Nonconceptual Content: From Perceptual Experience to Subpersonal Computational States.José Luis Bermúdez - 1995 - Mind and Language 10 (4):333-369.
    Philosophers have often argued that ascriptions of content are appropriate only to the personal level states of folk psychology. Against this, this paper defends the view that the familiar propositional attitudes and states defined over them are part of a larger set of cognitive proceses that do not make constitutive reference to concept possession. It does this by showing that states with nonconceptual content exist both in perceptual experience and in subpersonal information-processing systems. What makes these states content-involving is their (...)
  33. Peacocke's Argument Against the Autonomy of Nonconceptual Representational Content.José Luis Bermúdez - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (4):402-418.
  34. Nonconceptual Content and the Nature of Perceptual Experience.Jose Luis Bermudez & Fiona Macpherson - 1998 - Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6.
    [1] Recent philosophy of mind and epistemology has seen an important and influential trend towards accounting for at least some features of experiences in content-involving terms. It is a contested point whether ascribing content to experiences can account for all the intrinsic properties of experiences, but on many theories of experiences there are close links between the ascription of content and the ways in which experiences are ascribed and typed. The issues here have both epistemological and psychological dimensions. On the (...)
  35. Schelling’s Nonconceptual Grounding.Yashua Bhatti - 2014 - Review of Metaphysics 67 (3):543-582.
    Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling is arguably the most important figure of German idealism. Through a close reading of his much neglected Lectures on the Grounding of Positive Philosophy, this article draws out Schelling’s crucial moves of thought by which he demonstrates that reason is not self-grounding, but grounded in and/or by the absolute. This understanding of reason and its ground brings Hegel into the fray who argues that reason is self-grounding.
  36. Does Perceptual Experience Have Conceptual Content.Brewer Bill - 2005 - In Steup Matthias & Sosa Ernest (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell.
  37. Analog Representation Beyond Mental Imagery.James Blachowicz - 1997 - Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):55 - 84.
  38. Seeing‐As in the Light of Vision Science.Ned Block - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):560-572.
  39. The Philosophy of AI.Margaret A. Boden (ed.) - 1990 - Oxford University Press.
  40. Do Sense Experiential States Have Conceptual Content?Bill Brewer - 2005 - In Steup Matthias & Sosa Ernest (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell. pp. 217--230.
  41. Perceptual Experience has Conceptual Content.Bill Brewer - 2005 - In Ernest Sosa & Matthias Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell.
    I take it for granted that sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs; indeed this claim forms the first premise of my central argument for (CC). 1 The subsequent stages of the argument are intended to establish that a person has such a reason for believing something about the way things are in the world around him only if he is in some mental state or other with a conceptual content: a conceptual state. Thus, given that sense experiential states (...)
  42. Nonconceptual Content and the Distinction Between Implicit and Explicit Knowledge.Ingar Brinck - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):760-761.
    The notion of nonconceptual content in Dienes & Perner's theory is examined. A subject may be in a state with nonconceptual content without having the concepts that would be used to describe the state. Nonconceptual content does not seem to be a clear-cut case of either implicit or explicit knowledge. It underlies a kind of practical knowledge, which is not reducible to procedural knowledge, but is accessible to the subject and under voluntary control.
  43. Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [REVIEW]Robert Briscoe - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):902-096.
  44. It's Not What It Seems. A Semantic Account of 'Seems' and Seemings.Berit Brogaard - 2013 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (2-3):210-239.
    I start out by reviewing the semantics of ?seem?. As ?seem? is a subject-raising verb, ?it seems? can be treated as a sentential operator. I look at the semantic and logical properties of ?it seems?. I argue that ?it seems? is a hyperintensional and contextually flexible operator. The operator distributes over conjunction but not over disjunction, conditionals or semantic entailments. I further argue that ?it seems? does not commute with negation and does not agglomerate with conjunction. I then show that (...)
  45. Perception and Conception: Shaping Human Minds. [REVIEW]Otávio Bueno - 2013 - Biosemiotics 6 (3):323-336.
    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 (...)
  46. Reply to Rescorla and Peacocke: Perceptual Content in Light of Perceptual Constancies and Biological Constraints.Tyler Burge - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):485-501.
  47. Epistemological Behaviorism, Nonconceptual Content, and the Given.Matthew Burstein - 2010 - Contemporary Pragmatism 7 (1):168-89.
    Debates about nonconceptual content impact many philosophical disciplines, including philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of language. However, arguments made by many philosophers from within the pragmatist tradition, including Quine, Sellars, Davidson, Rorty, and Putnam, undercut the very role such content purportedly plays. I explore how specifically Sellarsian arguments against the Given and Rortian defenses of “epistemological behaviorism” undermine standard conceptions of nonconceptual content. Subsequently, I show that the standard objections to epistemological behaviorism inadequately attend to the essentially social and (...)
  48. Perception and Conceptual Content.Alex Byrne - 2005 - In Ernest Sosa & Matthias Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell. pp. 231--250.
    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 (...)
  49. Consciousness and Nonconceptual Content. [REVIEW]Alex Byrne - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (3):261-274.
    Consciousness, Color, and Content is a significant contribution to our understanding of consciousness, among other things. I have learned a lot from it, as well as Tye’s other writings. What’s more, I actually agree with much of it – fortunately for this symposium, not all of it. The book continues the defense of the “PANIC” theory of phenomenal consciousness that Tye began in Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995). A fair chunk of it, though, is largely independent of this theory: the (...)
  50. Spin Control.Alex Byrne - 1996 - In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Perception. Ridgeview. pp. 261--74.
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