Arguments from Phenomenology

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


I examine two arguments for nonconceptualism from the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. The idea is that only the assumption that experience content is nonconceptual does justice to the phenomenology of experience. In particular, if experience content is conceptual, we cannot account for its finely grained representational content. The problem is that visual color experience makes differences between shades of a color that are much more fine-grained than our conceptual repertoire allows. Further, conceptualism is incompatible with the situation-dependence of perceptual content Kelly (Philos Phenomenol Res 62:601–608, 2001b). For instance, it is hard if not impossible to make room, in purely conceptual terms, for the difference between perceiving a certain shade of purple instantiated by a steel ball as compared to seeing it instantiated by a wool carpet. As to the argument from fineness of grain, I concede that the conceptualist’s demonstrative strategy against the argument is initially successful. However, it fails in the end because of problems with the phenomenal character of hallucination, which cannot be accounted for by appeal to only demonstrative concepts. As to the argument from situation-dependence, I point out that the conceptualist cannot convincingly account for the perceived presence, at the same time and in the same place, of situation-dependent and independent properties in experience.


Perceptual Experience Steel Ball Visual Experience Phenomenal Character Perceptual Content 
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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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