Empirical concepts and the content of experience

European Journal of Philosophy 14 (3):349-372 (2006)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,296

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

13 (#1,066,279)

6 months
231 (#11,585)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Hannah Ginsborg
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

Kant, non-conceptual content and the representation of space.Lucy Allais - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (3):pp. 383-413.
The Kantian (Non)‐conceptualism Debate.Colin McLear - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (11):769-790.
Was Kant a nonconceptualist?Hannah Ginsborg - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):65 - 77.
A Peculiar Intuition: Kant's Conceptualist Account of Perception.Nathan Bauer - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (3):215-237.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Mind and World.John Henry McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Action in Perception.Alva Noë - 2004 - MIT Press.

View all 54 references / Add more references