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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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The mental lives of infants and animals

The mental lives of infants and animals

Chapter:
(p.131) IV The mental lives of infants and animals
Source:
Experience and the World's Own Language
Author(s):

Richard Gaskin (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199287252.003.0004

McDowell’s individualism and intellectualism about the ‘order of justification’ commits him to taking an unattractive line on infant and animal consciousness: he has to deny that infants and non-human animals have contentful experience. He allows that they have perceptual sensitivity to their environments, arguing that this sensitivity — though in the same genus as our experience — is of a different species. However, he does nothing to justify the ‘same genus’ thesis, and a number of his concomitant claims makes that thesis problematic for him. It is argued that infants and animals can benefit from our conceptual capacities in order to enjoy contentful experiences. We should ascribe to infants and animals fully conscious experience of things of certain sorts, transcendentally constituted by our powers of designation and classification.

Keywords:   individualism, intellectualism, order of justification, infant mentality, animal mentality, perception, experience, conceptual capacities

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