Experience and the World's Own Language: A Critique of John McDowell's Empiricism by Richard GaskinExperience and the World's Own Language: A Critique of John McDowell's Empiricism by Richard Gaskin

Experience and the World's Own Language: A Critique of John McDowell's Empiricism

byRichard Gaskin

Hardcover | February 9, 2006

Pricing and Purchase Info

$119.80 online 
$186.00 list price save 35%
Earn 599 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


John McDowell's 'minimal empiricism' is one of the most influential and widely discussed doctrines in contemporary philosophy. Richard Gaskin subjects it to careful examination and criticism. The doctrine is undermined, he argues, by inadequacies in the way McDowell conceives what he stylesthe 'order of justification' connecting world, experience, and judgement. McDowells conception of the roles played by causation and nature in this order is threatened with vacuity; and the requirements of self-consciousness and verbal articulacy which he places on subjects participating in thejustificatory relation between experience and judgement are unwarranted, and have the implausible consequence that infants and non-human animals are excluded from the 'order of justification' and so are deprived of experience of the world. Above all, McDowell's position is vitiated by a substantialerror he commits in the philosophy of language: following ancient tradition rather than Frege's radical departure from that tradition, he locates concepts at the level of sense rather than at the level of reference in the semantical hierarchy. This error generates an unwanted Kantian transcendentalidealism which in effect delivers a reductio ad absurdum of McDowell's metaphysical economy. Gaskin goes on to show how to correct the mistake, and thereby presents his own version of empiricism. First we must follow Frege in his location of concepts at the level of reference, but then we must go beyond Frege and locate not only concepts but also propositions at that level; and this in turnrequires us to take seriously an idea which McDowell mentions only to reject, that of objects as speaking to us 'in the world's own language'. If empiricism is to have any chance of success it must be still more minimal in its pretensions than McDowell allows: in particular, it must abandon theindividualistic and intellectualistic construction which McDowell places on the 'order of justification'.
Richard Gaskin is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool.
Title:Experience and the World's Own Language: A Critique of John McDowell's EmpiricismFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.87 inPublished:February 9, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199287252

ISBN - 13:9780199287253

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

1. Minimal empiricism and the 'order of justification'2. Experience and causation3. Experience and judgement4. The mental lives of infants and animals5. Diagnosis and treatment6. The world's own language

Editorial Reviews

"Gaskin has thought hard about a range of challenging topics--perception, content, knowledge, singular thought, reference--and he has insightful and suggestive things to say about them. The book repays close reading."--Jason Bridges, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews