According to a classic concept empiricist view, defended by, e.g., Locke (1632-1704), all thought materials derive from experience. We can think what we have experienced and combinations of what we have experienced, but nothing more. In this general form, concept empiricism has always been controversial, and today it has relatively few defenders. However, there is a limited version of concept empiricism that even critics of Locke's general thesis often accept. This limited concept empiricism (henceforth LCE) says that there are concepts of simple sensory qualities – like red and pain – that one can acquire only through experience. LCE is an intuitively appealing view. But – perhaps partly as a consequence of this – it has more often been asserted than carefully defended. The purpose of this project is to examine whether there are good reasons to believe LCE. The project will distinguish and examine different versions of the view, different theories of concepts and their individuation, and various arguments for and against LCE. The working hypothesis is that the reasons for believing the view are considerably weaker than is often supposed. In addition to its intrinsic interest, the investigation bears on a number of other issues. It touches on issues like: (i) whether all thoughts can be expressed in language, (ii) what is required for linguistic understanding, and (iii) to what extent the mind is "private". The investigation also bears on the debate about the so-called "knowledge argument" for mind-body dualism, in which LCE has played a prominent role.
Finansår , 2007, 2008, 2009
huvudman: Riksbankens jubileumsfond, finansiar: , y2007: 360, y2008: 350, y2009: 350,