McDowell and the Puzzle of Conceptual Form

Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):64-80 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In the course of recent debate with Hubert Dreyfus John McDowell emphasizes the notion of conceptual form or shape to explain how conceptual capacities are ‘operative’ in prereflective ‘coping’ activities. This paper considers how that notion is to be interpreted. In particular it considers whether or not it imposes a determinate constraint on the form of content and argues that both interpretations are unsatisfactory. Assuming conceptual form to be determinate is unnecessary to explain the universal applicability of concepts and conflicts with an argument McDowell uses against Evans. Attempting to avoid this conflict by leaving it indeterminate makes talk of conceptual form misleading, reducing it to an imprecise way of affirming our ability to apply concepts to subject-matter of any form whatever. As a consequence, Dreyfus’s challenge to McDowell cannot be met by appealing to the notion of conceptual form or shape. I further argue that it remains a puzzle how McDowell’s notion of conceptual form is to be understood, and that the difficulties with his response to Dreyfus point to an underlying tension between various claims McDowell makes about conceptual capacities.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,219

External links

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

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Affordances and the nature of perceptual content.Jan Almäng - 2008 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (2):161-177.
In defence of non-conceptual content.Simone Gozzano - 2008 - Axiomathes 18 (1):117-126.
A Trilemma about Mental Content.Susanna Schellenberg - 2013 - In Schear Joseph (ed.), Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-world. Routledge. pp. 272-282.
McDowell’s Kantianism.John Macfarlane - 2004 - Theoria 70 (2-3):250-265.
Intentionality and Content in McDowell.Patrice Philie - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (4-5):656-678.
Unreflective action and the argument from speed.Gabriel Gottlieb - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3):338-362.
Geist, Körper und Welt: Todes und McDowell über Körper und Sprache.Joseph Rouse - 2013 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 61 (5-6):787-809.
Sellars and Nonconceptual Content.Steven Levine - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):855-878.
Mind, body, and world: Todes and McDowell on bodies and language.Joseph Rouse - 2005 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):38-61.


Added to PP

19 (#758,603)

6 months
4 (#724,033)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Andrew Inkpin
University of Melbourne

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
Mind and World.John Mcdowell - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (182):99-109.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):389-394.
The return of the myth of the mental.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):352 – 365.
Overcoming the Myth of the Mental: How Philosophers Can Profit from the Phenomenology of Everyday Expertise.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2005 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 79 (2):47 - 65.

View all 9 references / Add more references