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Experience and the World's Own LanguageA Critique of John McDowell's Empiricism$
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Richard Gaskin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199287253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199287252.001.0001

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Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment

Chapter:
(p.166) V Diagnosis and treatment
Source:
Experience and the World's Own Language
Author(s):

Richard Gaskin (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199287252.003.0005

McDowell’s view is that if infants and animals did have conscious experience, they would be confronted with private objects in Wittgenstein’s sense — bits of unstructured sensory Given. It is argued that since we are obliged to accord conscious experience to infants and animals, McDowell is in effect saddled with supposing that they confront Kantian things-in-themselves, objects which are noumenal with respect to the conceptual. This fits with his location of the world at the level of sense rather than reference in the Fregean semantic hierarchy. On McDowell’s metaphysical picture, objects — the inhabitants of the realm of reference — are banished from the world to a noumenal penumbra. To unpick ourselves from this nominalistic entanglement, we need to follow Frege in locating concepts/properties at the level of reference. McDowell’s hostility to doing so, which seems to be based on a fear of an excessive platonism, must be set aside.

Keywords:   consciousness, privacy, Wittgenstein, the Given, Kant, things-in-themselves, world, sense, reference, platonism

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