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Reasons, contents and experiences

By  and Daniel LaurierUniversité De Montréal and Daniel Laurier


I propose what seems a plausible interpretation of the suggestion that the fact that someone has or lacks the capacity to make inferences of certain kinds should be taken as evidence that the contents of the states involved in these inferences are conceptual/nonconceptual. I then argue that there is no obvious way in which this line of thought could be exploited to help draw the line separating conceptual from nonconceptual contents. This will lead me to clarify in what sense perceptual experiences can be taken as providing reasons for beliefs. 1. The dual role property I follow Peacocke 1992, and no doubt many others, in assuming that concepts are to be found (if at all) at the level of sense or mode of presentation, and to be identified with the constituents of contents (of a certain kind, namely, ‘conceptual thoughts’) 1. Accordingly, I take it that an intentional content is wholly conceptual iff all its constituents are concepts, wholly nonconceptual iff none of its constituents are concepts 2, and partially conceptual (nonconceptual) iff it is neither wholly conceptual nor wholly nonconceptual. It is worth pointing out that on 1 According to another usage, especially popular among cognitive psychologists, concepts are taken as mental symbols, and hence as bearers of content. But this is a largely terminological matter which need not concern us here. 2 In this perspective, a mental state or attitude can be said to be conceptual (nonconceptual) only insofar as its content is conceptual (nonconceptual). Hence, the distinction between the conceptual and the nonconceptual is here taken as pertaining primarily to intentional contents, and only derivatively to states or attitudes

Year: 2011
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