Arguments from Concept Possession

  • Eva Schmidt
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 8)


In this chapter, I discuss arguments for the claim that a subject can both have an experience with a certain content and not be in possession of all the concepts needed to specify this content. If she does not possess all the relevant concepts, then she cannot exercise them. So, she can undergo such an experience without being required to exercise all the concepts needed to specify its content. The argument from memory experience goes back to Martin (Philos Rev 101:745763, 1992). Since we can extract new information from memories of previous experiences when we acquire new concepts, the content of these previous experiences cannot have been fully conceptual. The argument from animal and infant perception presupposes that some subjects who lack concepts of any kind nonetheless have perceptual experiences with the same kind of content as human perception. So, the content of human perception must be nonconceptual just like the perceptual contents of these subjects. The third argument, the argument from concept acquisition (Roskies, Philos Phenomenol Res 76:633659, 2008; Noûs 44:112134, 2010), shows that we cannot explain how subjects acquire some of their first concepts, particularly perceptual-demonstrative concepts, unless we assume that experience content is nonconceptual. The question of whether a subject can have a conscious perceptual experience only if she is able to cognitively appreciate its content is a recurrent theme in the chapter; it is answered in the negative by Modest Nonconceptualism.


Perceptual Experience Generality Constraint Perceptual State Phenomenal Concept Perceptual Sensitivity 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentSaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

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