Anti-individualism and phenomenal content

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The paper addresses a prima facie tension between two popular views about concepts. The first is the doctrine that some concepts are constitutively perceptual/experiential, and can be possessed only by suitably experienced subjects. This is a classic empiricist theme, but its most conspicuous recent appearance is in literature on phenomenal concepts. The second view is anti-individualism: here, the view that concept possession depends not only on a thinker’s internal states and relations to the concepts’ referents, but also on certain of her relations to sociolinguistic peers. In recent works, Derek Ball and Michael Tye have in effect argued that the doctrines are incompatible, and their conclusion is that no concepts depend on experience. In reply, Bénédicte Veillet endorses those authors’ incompatibilism, but argues that it is anti-individualism (about the concepts at issue) that we should reject. I develop an approach to reconciliation that is more promising than any considered by these theorists. Against Veillet, I defend a version of anti-individualism about phenomenal concepts, but against Ball and Tye, I argue that they can be possessed only by suitably experienced thinkers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2020


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