De YangFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Second Advisor

Daniel Weiskopf


It has long been a common assumption that perceptual experience has representational content. Yet, in “The Silence of the Senses” (2004), Charles Travis challenges this widely-accepted assumption by arguing that perceptual experience cannot determine which content it represents and therefore cannot be representational. It constitutes a significant threat to conceptualism, which usually accepts the assumption. Challenged by Travis, John McDowell (2009b) reformulated his conceptualism by arguing that conceptualism is in fact compatible with perceptual experience being non-representational. However, I find this response of McDowell hardly satisfactory. Instead, I argue that McDowell’s reformulation of conceptualism is faced with great difficulties and doesn’t sufficiently addresses Travis’ argument. I then attempt to develop a different response to Travis. By referring to Siegel (2006), I argue that by regarding anticipation as constitutive of perceptual experience, conceptualists avoid Travis’ critique while retaining the idea of perceptual experience being representational.