Nonconceptual Content

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


I defend both conceptualists and nonconceptualists against an attack which has been leveled at them by critics such as Byrne (Perception and conceptual content In: Steup M, Sosa E (eds) Contemporary debates in epistemology. Blackwell, Malden, pp 231-250, 2005), Speaks (Philos Rev 114:359–398, 2005), and Crowther (Erkenntnis 65:5–276, 2006). They distinguish a ‘state’ reading and a ‘content’ reading of ‘(non)conceptual’ and argue that many arguments on either side support only the respective state views, not the respective content views. To prepare the ground for my defense, I argue for an understanding of the state view in terms of concept exercise rather than concept possession and provide an overview of versions of conceptualism and nonconceptualism of different strengths. I then argue that conceptualists and nonconceptualists tacitly accept a so-called ‘state-to-content’ principle, show that existing defenses of this principle fail, and provide a new defense of it. It draws on the sources of the nonconceptualism debate, viz. the need to do justice both to the phenomenology of experience and to its epistemological role and to account for the existence of perceptual content and thought content. I argue that epistemological considerations together with considerations from the subject’s perspective support the claim that conceptual thought has conceptual and propositional content, whereas nonconceptual experience has nonconceptual and non-propositional content.


Perceptual Experience Mental Content Conceptual Content Perceptual Justification Perceptual Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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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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