In Andrew Reisner & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Reasons for Belief. Cambridge University Press. pp. 131--57 (2011)

Hannah Ginsborg
University of California, Berkeley
During the last fifteen years or so there has been much debate, among philosophers interested in perception, on the question of whether the representational content of perceptual experience is conceptual or nonconceptual. Recently, however, a number of philosophers have challenged the terms of this debate, arguing that one of its most basic assumptions is mistaken. Experience, they claim, does not have representational content at all. On the kind of approach they suggest, having a perceptual experience is not to be understood on the model of thought or belief, as a matter of the subject's taking things in the world to be this or that way, or of having this or that feature. Nor is it to be understood on the model of receiving testimony about how things are in the world, as a matter of its being represented to us that things are this or that way. Rather, it is simply a matter of our being presented with things. Having a perceptual experience of an object is a matter of our standing in a certain kind of relation to it which makes it available to us to be represented in thought or belief, but which does not itself involve our representing it, or its being represented to us.1 Much of the motivation for rejecting the view that experience has representational content springs from a concern to do justice to what is distinctive about perceptual experience in contrast to thought and belief. In particular, perceptual experience seems to be more "primitive" than thought, in that it seems natural to appeal to the character of perceptual experience to explain the possibility of thought about objects rather than the other way around. There is thus a concern that we will deprive..
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