The Epistemological Objection

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


In this chapter, I rebut three incarnations of the epistemological objection put forth by McDowell (Mind and World, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994a) and Brewer (Perception and Reason, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1999). According to them, only the assumption that perceptual experiences have conceptual content can account for the fact that perception plays a crucial role in justifying belief about the external world. I begin by providing some context to the objections, viz. by presenting the myth of the given that threatens the foundationalist (Sellars, 1:253–329, 1956). Next, I respond to the objection from the logical space of reasons. I argue that nonconceptual content and nonconceptual mental states are themselves elements of the normative space of reasons and thus fit to enter normative justificatory relations with belief. In response to the second objection, the objection from the inferential nature of justification, I argue that nonconceptual and non-propositional scenario contents can be involved in justification, for experiences with such contents can be the starting points of content-sensitive correctness-truth transitions that have beliefs with Fregean propositional contents as their endpoints. In this Modest Nonconceptualist account of perceptual justification, I rely on the external content of perception and belief, which consists in the states of affairs represented. I defend the account against several conceptualist objections. In my defense against the third objection, an objection from cognitive access, I show that nonconceptual states and their contents can be the subject’s own reasons on a mentalism-inspired picture of perceptual justification. Modest Nonconceptualism can thus respect some of the internalist motivations of the conceptualist.


Perceptual Experience Basic Belief Perceptual Justification Perceptual Belief 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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