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Balog, Katalin. Jerry Fodor on Non-Conceptual Content
2009, Synthese, 170, 311-320
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Proponents of non-conceptual content have recruited it for various philosophical jobs. Some epistemologists have suggested that it may play the role of “the given” that Sellars is supposed to have exorcised from philosophy. Some philosophers of mind (e.g., Dretske) have suggested that it plays an important role in the project of naturalizing semantics as a kind of halfway between merely information bearing and possessing conceptual content. Here I will focus on a recent proposal by Jerry Fodor. In a recent paper he characterizes non-conceptual content in a particular way and argues that it is plausible that it plays an explanatory role in accounting for certain auditory and visual phenomena. So he thinks that there is reason to believe that there is non-conceptual content. On the other hand, Fodor thinks that non-conceptual content has a limited role. It occurs only in the very early stages of perceptual processing prior to conscious awareness. My paper is examines Fodor’s characterization of non-conceptual content and his claims for its explanatory importance. I also discuss if Fodor has made a case for limiting non-conceptual content to non-conscious, sub-personal mental states.

Comment: Useful discussion of Fodor's view on non-conceptual content; I use the Fodor piece as main reading, and this as further reading.

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Orlandi, Nicoletta. Ambiguous Figures and Representationalism
2011, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 10 (2011), 307-323
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Ambiguous figures pose a problem for representationalists, particularly for representationalists who believe that the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual (MacPherson in Nous 40(1):82–117, 2006). This is because, in viewing ambiguous figures, subjects have perceptual experiences that differ in phenomenal properties without differing in non-conceptual content. In this paper, I argue that ambiguous figures pose no problem for non-conceptual representationalists. I argue that aspect shifts do not presuppose or require the possession of sophisticated conceptual resources and that, although viewing ambiguous figures often causes a change in phenomenal properties, this change is accompanied by a change in non-conceptual content. I illustrate the case by considering specific examples.

Comment: Specialised further reading on nonconceptual content and representationalism.

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Toribio, Josefa. Nonconceptual Content
2007, Philosophy Compass, 2 (2007), 445-460
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Nonconceptualists maintain that there are ways of representing the world that do not reflect the concepts a creature possesses. They claim that the content of these representational states is genuine content because it is subject to correctness conditions, but it is nonconceptual because the creature to which we attribute it need not possess any of the concepts involved in the specification of that content. Appeals to nonconceptual content have seemed especially useful in attempts to capture the representational properties of perceptual experiences, the representational states of pre-linguistic children and non-human animals, the states of subpersonal visual information-processing systems, and the subdoxastic states involved in tacit knowledge of the grammar of a language. Nonconceptual content is also invoked in the explanation of concept possession, concept acquisition, sensorimotor behaviour, and in the analysis of the notion of self-consciousness. The notion of nonconceptual content plays an important role in many discussions about the relationships between perception and thought.

Comment: Survey article on nonconceptual content.

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