In Mind and World, McDowell endorses: empirical thoughts should be justified, ultimately, by things they are about; and, that empirical thoughts are immediately about their ultimate justifiers. But, it also holds two other views: first, as we relate our empirical judgments to their credentials, we ultimately rely on experience, despite its fallibility; second, our empirical judgments are about things in the external world. These views appear inconsistent with one another. McDowell’s way of accommodating the seeming inconsistency appeals to the idea of conceptuality of experience and the holism of the conceptual. Mainly by an argument from false experience, I demonstrate that the conceptual resources relevant to McDowell’s idea of the conceptuality of experience fall short of delivering the accommodation he promises.
Halbig, C., Hansberger, A., & Quante, M. (2000). Secondary qualities or second nature: Which reality for values? In M. Willaschek (Ed.), John McDowell: Reason and nature (pp. 85-88). Münster: Münsteraner Vorlesungen zur Philosophie.