Alternative Conceptual Schemes and A Non-Kantian Scheme-Content Dualism

Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:267-275 (2012 reprint)
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D. Davidson argues that the existence of alternative conceptual schemes presupposes the Kantian scheme -content dualism, which requires a scheme -neutral empirical content and a fixed, sharp schemecontent distinction. The dismantlement of such a Kantian scheme -content dualism, which Davidson calls “the third dogma of empiricism”, would render the notion of alternative conceptual schemes groundless. To counter Davidson’s attack on the notion of alternative conceptual schemes, I argue that alternative conceptual schemes neither entail nor presuppose the Kantian scheme -content dualism. On the contrary, it is exactly the abandonment of the concept-neutral content and the denial of a fixed, absolute scheme -content distinction that turns the Kantian conceptualabsolutism upside down and thus makes alternative conceptual schemes possible. Proposing common-sense experience as the empirical content of alternative schemes, I construct and defend a non-Kantian scheme -content dualism based on a non-fixed, relative scheme -content distinction. The proposed non-Kantian scheme -content dualism is not only “innocent” enough to be immune from Davidson’s charge of the third dogma of empiricism, but also “solid” enough to be able to sustain alternative conceptual schemes. I conclude that in terms of our conceptual schemes, we are connected to the world as closely as possible; only through conceptual schemes can we be connected to the world

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Xinli Wang
Juniata College

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