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date: 11 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses the debate over whether the representational content of perceptual experience is, at least in part, nonconceptual. Conceptualists claim that how a creature’s experiences represent the world is constrained by the concepts it possesses. Nonconceptualists contend that it is possible for a creature’s experiences to represent the world in a way that is not limited by its conceptual capacities. Arguments for and against both positions are set out, with philosophical and empirical considerations taken into account. Among the issues examined are the Myth of the Given, direct perception, demonstrative reference, attention, memory, and cognitive encapsulation. The primary goal is to shed light on the motivations for and challenges facing both conceptualism and nonconceptualism. A secondary goal is to show that each side has to grant significant concessions to the other. Ultimately, it is unclear whether either conceptualism or nonconceptualism could emerge as a clear-cut victor in the debate.

Keywords: nonconceptual content, perceptual experience, representational content, concepts, Myth of the Given, direct perception, demonstrative reference, attention, memory, cognitive encapsulation

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