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Singular Thought and Mental Files$
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Rachel Goodman, James Genone, and Nick Kroll

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746881

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746881.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 March 2021

Content and the Explanatory Role of Experience

Content and the Explanatory Role of Experience

(p.52) 4 Content and the Explanatory Role of Experience
Singular Thought and Mental Files

Jeff Speaks

Oxford University Press

It is widely held both that having certain sorts of perceptual experiences can explain one’s ability to have certain sorts of thoughts and that we can use this fact to show that perception and thought differ in certain fundamental ways. Some hold that the explanatory role of experience shows that experiences, unlike thoughts, are not contentful states; others hold that it shows that experiences, unlike thoughts, are nonconceptual. The chapter argues that these theses can’t be established by arguments based on premises requiring experience to play certain explanatory roles. It considers three arguments of this form, which appeal, respectively, to the requirements that experience explain our capacity for singular thought, that it explain the reference of certain demonstrative concepts, and that it explain our ability to learn new concepts. In section 4, it argues that the explanatory role of experience can help decide questions about scope of perceptual representation.

Keywords:   concepts, nonconceptual content, perception, singular thought, demonstratives, demonstrative thought

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