Nonconceptual Content, Fineness of Grain and Recognitional Capacities

  • André Abath
  • João Queiroz


One of the current debates in philosophy of mind is whether the content of perceptual experiences is conceptual or nonconceptual. The proponents of nonconceptual content, or nonconceptualists, typically support their position by appealing to the so-called Fineness of Grain Argument, which, in rough terms, has as its conclusion that we do not possess concepts for everything we perceive. In his Mind and World, John McDowell tried to give a response to the argument, and show that we do possess concepts for everything we perceive. His response is based on the idea that we have a capacity to recognize all that we perceive. However, a good number of people took this proposal as being empirically false. My aim in this paper is to show that McDowell’s proposal is not only not empirically false, but likely to be empirically true. We do have the capacity to recognize all that we perceive, but such recognition capacity is dependent on information stored in short-term memory, and not in longterm memory, as McDowell’s critics have mistakenly supposed.