Please Mind the Gappy Content

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Representationalist theories of experience face the problem that two sets of compelling intuitions seem to support the contrary conclusions that we should ascribe, respectively, singular contents and general contents to experience. Susanna Schellenberg has, in a series of articles, argued that we can conserve both sets of intuitions if we award a central explanatory role to the notions of gappy-contents and content-schemas in our theory of experience. I argue that there is difficulty in seeing how gappy-contents and content-schemas can fulfil the explanatory role envisioned for them by Schellenberg. The central problem is that both gappy-contents and contentschemas lack truth-conditions. Schellenberg attempts to support her view by suggesting an analogy between the role of content-schemas in our account of experience and the role of Kaplan’s notion of character in our account of demonstrative statements. However, I show that this analogy breaks down at crucial places when it is explored in detail. Hence, gappy-contents and content-schemas cannot fill the explanatory roles that the representationalist awards to fully truth-evaluable contents. Therefore, Schellenberg’s theory provides no way for the representationalist to conserve both sets of competing intuitions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)219–239
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Gappy content
  • Experience
  • Hallucination
  • Content-schema
  • Singular thought
  • Perceptual justification
  • Susanna Schellenberg
  • Representational theory of experience
  • Experiential content

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