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2.7. Concepts (Concepts on PhilPapers)

See also:
Alvarez, Asuncion (2006). On Peacocke's theory of concepts. In E. Di Nucci & C McHugh (eds.), Content, Consciousness, and Perception: Essays in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge Scholars Press.   (Google)
Abstract: How are we to understand the notion of concept, the very concept of concept itself? One natural way, it seems to me, is to take Fregean sense as a model, and imposing similar constraints on a theory of concepts. This approach has the advantage, among others, of allowing for a distinction to be made between publicly shared, objective concepts, on the one hand, and private, subjective mental representations on the other - a distinction which, I believe, is desirable for various reasons. One problem with Frege
Atran, Scott (1989). Basic conceptual domains. Mind and Language 4:7-16.   (Cited by 16 | Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat (1998). Fodor on concepts and Frege puzzles. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (4):289-294.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: ABSTRACT. Fodor characterizes concepts as consisting of two dimensions: one is content, which is purely denotational/broad, the other the Mentalese vehicle bearing that content, which Fodor calls the Mode of Presentation (MOP), understood "syntactically." I argue that, so understood, concepts are not interpersonally sharable; so Fodor's own account violates what he calls the Publicity Constraint in his (1998) book. Furthermore, I argue that Fodor's non-semantic, or "syntactic," solution to Frege cases succumbs to the problem of providing interpersonally applicable functional roles for MOPs. This is a serious problem because Fodor himself has argued extensively that if Fregean senses or meanings are understood as functional/conceptual roles, then they can't be public, since, according to Fodor, there are no interpersonally applicable functional roles in the relevant senses. I elaborate on these relevant senses in the paper
Aydede, Murat (1999). What makes perceptual symbols perceptual? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):610-611.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: It is argued that three major attempts by Barsalou to specify what makes a perceptual symbol perceptual fail. It is suggested that one way to give such an account is to employ the symbols
Bach, Kent (2000). Review of Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Philosophical Review.   (Google | More links)
Barsalou, Lawrence W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.   (Cited by 1129 | Google | More links)
Barber, Alex (1998). The pleonasticity of talk about concepts. Philosophical Studies 89 (1):53-86.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Bealer, George (1998). A theory of concepts and concepts possession. Philosophical Issues 9:261-301.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Bealer, George (1998). Concept possession. Philosophical Issues 9:331-338.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Bengson, John & Moffett, Marc A. (2007). Know-how and concept possession. Philosophical Studies 136 (1).   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We begin with a puzzle: why do some know-how attributions entail ability attributions while others do not? After rejecting the tempting response that know-how attributions are ambiguous, we argue that a satisfactory answer to the puzzle must acknowledge the connection between know-how and concept possession (specifically, reasonable conceptual mastery, or understanding). This connection appears at first to be grounded solely in the cognitive nature of certain activities. However, we show that, contra anti-intellectualists, the connection between know-how and concept possession can be generalized via reflection on the cognitive nature of intentional action and the potential of certain misunderstandings to undermine know-how even when the corresponding abilities and associated propositional knowledge are in place. Such considerations make explicit the intimate relation between know-how and understanding, motivating a general intellectualist analysis of the former in terms of the latter
Bermudez, Jose Luis (1999). Naturalism and conceptual norms. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (194):77-85.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1989). What do we need concepts for? Mind and Language 4:17-23.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: If we are serious about concepts, we must begin by addressing two questions: What are concepts for, what is their job? And what means are available in an organism for concepts to do their job? One is a question of raison d'
Braisby, Nick (1998). Compositionality and the modelling of complex concepts. Minds and Machines 8 (4):479-508.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Brandom, Robert B. (2002). Overcoming aduality of concepts and causes: A unifying thread in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. In R.M. Gale (ed.), Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics. Blackwell.   (Google)
Bradshaw, Denny E. (1992). The nature of concepts. Philosophical Papers 21 (1):1-20.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Brigandt, Ingo (2003). Homology in comparative, molecular, and evolutionary developmental biology: The radiation of a concept. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 299:9-17.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The present paper analyzes the use and understanding of the homology concept across different biological disciplines. It is argued that in its history, the homology concept underwent a sort of adaptive radiation. Once it migrated from comparative anatomy into new biological fields, the homology concept changed in accordance with the theoretical aims and interests of these disciplines. The paper gives a case study of the theoretical role that homology plays in comparative and evolutionary biology, in molecular biology, and in evolutionary developmental biology. It is shown that the concept or variant of homology preferred by a particular biological field is used to bring about items of biological knowledge that are characteristic for this field. A particular branch of biology uses its homology concept to pursue its specific theoretical goals
Brigandt, Ingo (2010). Scientific Reasoning Is Material Inference: Combining Confirmation, Discovery, and Explanation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (1):31-43.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Whereas an inference (deductive as well as inductive) is usually viewed as being valid in virtue of its argument form, the present paper argues that scientific reasoning is material inference, i.e., justified in virtue of its content. A material inference is licensed by the empirical content embodied in the concepts contained in the premisses and conclusion. Understanding scientific reasoning as material inference has the advantage of combining different aspects of scientific reasoning, such as confirmation, discovery, and explanation. This approach explains why these different aspects (including discovery) can be rational without conforming to formal schemes, and why scientific reasoning is local, i.e., justified only in certain domains and contingent on particular empirical facts. The notion of material inference also fruitfully interacts with accounts of conceptual change and psychological theories of concepts.
Brown, Harold I. (online). Conceptual comparison and conceptual innovation.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Brown, Harold I. (1986). Sellars, concepts, and conceptual change. Synthese 68 (August):275-307.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Burge, Tyler (2003). Concepts, conceptions, reflective understanding: Reply to Peacocke. In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. MIT Press.   (Google)
Burge, Tyler (1993). Concepts, definitions, and meaning. Metaphilosophy 24 (4):309-25.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Byrne, Darragh (2004). The 'compositional rigidity' of recognitionality. Philosophical Papers 33 (2):147-169.   (Google | More links)
Cain, M. J. (2004). The return of the nativist. Philosophical Explorations 7 (1):1-20.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Radical Concept Nativism (RCN) is the doctrine that most of our concepts are innate. In this paper I will argue in favour of RCN by developing a speculative account of concept acquisition that has considerable nativist credentials and can be defended against the most familiar anti-nativist objections. The core idea is that we have a whole battery of hard-wired dispositions that determine how we group together objects with which we interact. In having these dispositions we are effectively committed to an implicit conceptual scheme and acquiring concepts is a matter of labelling the elements of that scheme
Campbell, John (1985). Possession of concepts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 85:149-170.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Camp, Elisabeth (online). Putting thoughts to work: Concepts, systematicity, and stimulus-independence and the generality constraint.   (Google)
Abstract: A venerable philosophical tradition claims that only language users possess concepts. But this makes conceptual thought out to be an implausibly rarified achievement. A more recent tradition, based in cognitive science, maintains that any creature who can systematically recombine its representational capacities thereby deploys concepts. But this makes conceptual thought implausibly widespread. I argue for a middle ground: it is sufficient for conceptual thought that one be able to entertain many of the thoughts produced by recombining one
Carey, Susan (2009). The Origin of Concepts. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Only human beings have a rich conceptual repertoire with concepts like tort, entropy, Abelian group, mannerism, icon and deconstruction. How have humans constructed these concepts? And once they have been constructed by adults, how do children acquire them? While primarily focusing on the second question, in The Origin of Concepts , Susan Carey shows that the answers to both overlap substantially. Carey begins by characterizing the innate starting point for conceptual development, namely systems of core cognition. Representations of core cognition are the output of dedicated input analyzers, as with perceptual representations, but these core representations differ from perceptual representations in having more abstract contents and richer functional roles. Carey argues that the key to understanding cognitive development lies in recognizing conceptual discontinuities in which new representational systems emerge that have more expressive power than core cognition and are also incommensurate with core cognition and other earlier representational systems. Finally, Carey fleshes out Quinian bootstrapping, a learning mechanism that has been repeatedly sketched in the literature on the history and philosophy of science. She demonstrates that Quinian bootstrapping is a major mechanism in the construction of new representational resources over the course of childrens cognitive development. Carey shows how developmental cognitive science resolves aspects of long-standing philosophical debates about the existence, nature, content, and format of innate knowledge. She also shows that understanding the processes of conceptual development in children illuminates the historical process by which concepts are constructed, and transforms the way we think about philosophical problems about the nature of concepts and the relations between language and thought
Carey, Susan (2009). Where our number concepts come from. Journal of Philosophy 106 (4).   (Google | More links)
Carey, Susan (ms). The Origin of Concepts, chapter.   (Google)
Chen, Xiang (2001). Perceptual symbols and taxonomy comparison. Philosophy of Science 3 (September):S200-S212.   (Google | More links)
Clark, Andy & Prinz, Jesse J. (2004). Putting concepts to work: Some thoughts for the twenty-first century. Mind and Language 19 (1):57-69.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Hoerl, Christoph (2011). Causal reasoning. Philosophical Studies 152 (2):167-179.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The main focus of this paper is the question as to what it is for an individual to think of her environment in terms of a concept of causation, or causal concepts, in contrast to some more primitive ways in which an individual might pick out or register what are in fact causal phenomena. I show how versions of this question arise in the context of two strands of work on causation, represented by Elizabeth Anscombe and Christopher Hitchcock, respectively. I then describe a central type of reasoning that, I suggest, a subject has to be able to engage in, if we are to credit her with causal concepts. I also point out that this type of reasoning turns on the idea of a physical connection between cause and effect, as articulated in recent singularist approaches of causation
Cussins, Adrian (1990). The connectionist construction of concepts. In Margaret A. Boden (ed.), The Philosophy of AI. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 107 | Annotation | Google)
Abstract: The character of computational modelling of cognition depends on an underlying theory of representation. Classical cognitive science has exploited the syntax/semantics theory of representation that derives from logic. But this has had the consequence that the kind of psychological explanation supported by classical cognitive science is
_conceptualist_:
psychological phenomena are modelled in terms of relations that hold between concepts, and between the sensors/effectors and concepts. This kind of explanation is inappropriate for the Proper Treatment of Connectionism (Smolensky 1988)
Daly, Chris (2007). Wandering significance: An essay on conceptual behaviour. – Mark Wilson. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (228):498–501.   (Google | More links)
Damasio, Antonio R. (1989). Concepts in the brain. Mind and Language 4:24-28.   (Cited by 13 | Google)
Davis, Wayne A. (2005). Concepts and epistemic individuation (christopher peacocke). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):290-325.   (Google)
Davis, Wayne A. (2005). Concepts and epistemic individuation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):290-325.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Davis, Wayne A. (2005). Concept individuation, possession conditions, and propositional attitudes. Noûs 39 (1):140-66.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
DeMoss, David (2004). Hunting fat gnu: How to identify a proxytype. Essays in Philosophy 5 (1):1-10.   (Google)
de Rosa, Raffaella (2005). Prinz's problematic proxytypes. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):594-606.   (Google | More links)
Earl, Dennis (2006). Concepts and properties. Metaphysica 7 (1):67-85.   (Google)
Evans, Jonathan S. B. T. (1989). Concepts and inference. Mind and Language 4:29-34.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Fauconnier, Gilles (2002). The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities. Basic Books.   (Google)
Abstract: Until recently, cognitive science focused on such mental functions as problem solving, grammar, and pattern-the functions in which the human mind most closely resembles a computer. But humans are more than computers: we invent new meanings, imagine wildly, and even have ideas that have never existed before. Today the cutting edge of cognitive science addresses precisely these mysterious, creative aspects of the mind.The Way We Think is a landmark analysis of the imaginative nature of the mind. Conceptual blending is already widely known in research laboratories throughout the world; this book, written to be accessible to both lay readers and interested scientists, is its definitive statement. Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner show that conceptual blending is the root of the cognitively modern human mind, and that conceptual blends themselves are continually combined and reblended to create the rich mental fabric in which we live.The Way We Think shows how this blending operates; how it is affected by (and gives rise to) language, identity, culture, and invention; and how we imagine what could be and what might have been. The result is a bold and exciting new view of how the mind works
Fodor, Jerry A. (1995). Concepts: A potboiler. Cognition 50:133-51.   (Cited by 188 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1998). Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 573 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitive science is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of rival theories, and suggests that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations. This lively, conversational, and superbly accessible book is the first volume in the Oxford Cognitive Science Series, where the best original work in this field will be presented to a broad readership. Concepts will fascinate anyone interested in contemporary work on mind and language. Cognitive science will never be the same again
Fodor, Jerry A. (2004). Having concepts: A brief refutation of the twentieth century. Mind and Language 19 (1):29-47.   (Cited by 25 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (2003). Hume Variations. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 24 | Google)
Abstract: Hume? Yes, David Hume, that's who Jerry Fodor looks to for help in advancing our understanding of the mind. Fodor claims his Treatise of Human Nature as the foundational document of cognitive science: it launched the project of constructing an empirical psychology on the basis of a representational theory of mind. Going back to this work after more than 250 years we find that Hume is remarkably perceptive about the components and structure that a theory of mind requires. Careful study of the Treatise helps us to see what is amiss with much twentieth-century philosophy of mind, and to get on the right track
Fodor, Jerry A. (2000). Replies to critics. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):350-374.   (Cited by 15 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1998). There are no recognitional concepts, not even RED. Philosophical Issues 9:1-14.   (Cited by 20 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. & LePore, Ernest (1996). The red Herring and the pet fish: Why concepts still can't be prototypes. Cognition 58:253-70.   (Cited by 34 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 1 There is a Standard Objection to the idea that concepts might be prototypes (or exemplars, or stereotypes): Because they are productive, concepts must be compositional. Prototypes aren't compositional, so concepts can't be prototypes (see, e.g., Margolis, 1994).2 However, two recent papers (Osherson and Smith, 1988; Kamp and Partee, 1995) reconsider this consensus. They suggest that, although the Standard Objection is probably right in the long run, the cases where prototypes fail to exhibit compositionality are relatively exotic and involve phenomena which any account of compositionality is likely to find hard to deal with; for example, the effects of quantifiers, indexicals, contextual constraints, etc. KP are even prepared to indulge a guarded optimism: "... when a suitably rich compositional theory... is developed, prototypes will be seen ... as one property among many which only when taken altogether can support a compositional theory of combination" (p.56). In this paper, we argue that the Standard Objection to prototype theory was right after all: The problems about compositionality are insuperable in even the most trivial sorts of examples; it is therefore as near to certain as anything in cognitive science ever gets that the structure of concepts is not statistical. Theories of categorization, concept acquisition, lexical meaning and the like, which assume the contrary simply don't work. We commence with a general discussion of the constraints that an account of concepts must meet if their compositionality is to explain their productivity. We'll then turn to a criticism of proposals that OS2 and KP make for coping with some specific cases
Franks, Bradley (1992). Realism and folk psychology in the ascription of concepts. Philosophical Psychology 5 (4):369-390.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: This paper discusses some requirements on a folk-psychological, computational account of concepts. Although most psychological views take the folk-psychological stance that concept-possession requires capacities of both representation and classification, such views lack a philosophical context. In contrast, philosophically motivated views stress one of these capacities at the expense of the other. This paper seeks to provide some philosophical motivation for the (folk-) psychological stance. Philosophical and psychological constraints on a computational level account provide the context for evaluating two theses. The first, the Classificatory View, is that concept-possession is constituted by the ability to classify states of the world. I argue, against this view, that to be able to classify, a thinker must also be able to represent the world. The second thesis, the Representational View, is that to possess a concept is constituted by the ability to represent the world. I argue that ascribing this ability is incoherent without ascribing an ability to classify. Hence, a detailed computational specification of concept-possession suggests that the folk-psychological stance is accurate. Philosophical views of concepts, (e.g. Fodor, 1987), adhering to one of the strong theses, whilst adverting to folk-psychological motivations, are thus both insufficiently complex and incoherent
Millikan, Ruth G. (1998). A more plausible kind of "recognitional concept". Philosophical Issues 9:35-41.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: It's a sort of moebus strip argument. Rather than circularly assuming what it should prove, it assumes one of the things Fodor says he has disproved. It assumes that the extensions of those concepts thought by some to be recognitional are in fact controlled by stereotypes. Why do I say that? Because Fodor assumes that what makes an instance of a concept a "good instance" is that it is an average instance, that it sports the properties statistically most commonly found among instances of that concept. But that the "good instances" are always the common instances is remotely plausible only if we take concepts to be organized by stereotypes. True, a goldfish is not an average or stereotypical fish (SSis that true?) and the nursing profession is not average for a male and maleness is not average for a nurse. But there is surely is nothing borderline about the fishiness of a goldfish nor, typically, about the maleness of a male nurse or the petness of a pet fish. Notice also that good examples of some kinds of things are very hard to find, for example, good examples of the fallacy of accent, and good examples of wild children, and (nowadays) good examples of scurvy are hard to find. If good instances had to be instances that were average, including in respects having nothing to do with the point of the category being defined, and if recognitional concepts had to recognize by attending to average properties, then I suppose the recognitional ability defining the concept "sphere" would have to include the ability to tell whether a thing bounces!
Gardenfors, Peter (1997). Meanings as conceptual structures. In Martin Carrier & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Mindscapes: Philosophy, Science, and the Mind. Pittsburgh University Press.   (Cited by 15 | Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (2005). On the evidence for prelinguistic concepts. Theoria-Revista de Teoria Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 20 (3):287-297.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: right, then we ought to be able to obtain experimental evidence for the existence of concepts in prelinguis- tic children. One line of research that attempts to provide such evidence is the work of Paul Quinn, who claims that looking-time results show that four-month old infants form
Gillett, Grant R. (1987). Concepts, structures, and meanings. Inquiry 30 (March):101-112.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Gopnik, Alison & Schwitzgebel, Eric (1998). Whose concepts are they, anyway? The role of philosophical intuition in empirical psychology. In M. R. DePaul & William Ramsey (eds.), Rethinking Intuition. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This chapter examines several ways in which philosophical attention to intuition can contribute to empirical scientific psychology. The authors then discuss one prevalent misuse of intuition. An unspoken assumption of much argumentation in the philosophy of mind has been that to articulate our folk psychological intuitions, our ordinary concepts of belief, truth, meaning, and so forth, is itself sufficient to give a theoretical account of what belief, truth, meaning, and so forth, actually are. It is believed that this assumption rests on an inadequate understanding of the nature of intuition and its appropriate applications, and that it results in errors. Three notable examples of this sort of misuse of intuition in philosophy are briefly discussed. Finally, the authors provide developmental evidence for the mutability and fallibility of everyday intuitions about the mind, evidence that undermines arguments, that depend on taking such intuitions as a final authority for substantive claims about what the mind is like.
Grandy, Richard E. (1990). Concepts, prototypes, and information. In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Blackwell.   (Google)
Grandy, Richard E. (1998). Recognitional concepts and compositionality. Philosophical Issues 9:21-25.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Haas-Spohn, Ulrike & Spohn, Wolfgang (2001). Concepts are beliefs about essences. In R. Stuhlmann-Laeisz, Albert Newen & Ulrich Nortmann (eds.), Proceedings of an International Symposium. Stanford, CSLI Publications.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Putnam (1975) and Burge (1979) have made a convincing case that neither mea- nings nor beliefs are in the head. Most philosophers, it seems, have accepted their argument. Putnam explained that a subject
Hampton, James A. (2000). Concepts and prototypes. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):299-307.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Hauser, Larry (1995). Doing without mentalese. Behavior And Philosophy 23 (2):42-47.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Higginbotham, James T. (1998). Conceptual competence. Philosophical Issues 9:149-162.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Higginbotham, James T. (1995). Fodor's concepts. In Contents. Atascadero: Ridgeview.   (Google | More links)
Horwich, Paul (1998). Concept constitution. Philosophical Issues 9:15-19.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Horst, Steven (online). How (not) to give a theory of concepts.   (Google)
Abstract: This paper presents the lineaments of a new account of concepts. The foundations of the account are four ideas taken from recent cognitive science, though most of them have important philosophical precursors. The first is the idea that human conceptuality shares important continuities with psychological faculties of other animals, and indeed that there is a well-distinguished hierarchy of such faculties that extend up and down the phylogenetic scale. While it would very likely be a mistake to look at some conglomeration of these simpler abilities and assert that we have produced a reductive account of human conceptuality, an examination of these will lend insights into essential features of human conceptuality in a non-reductive, non-exhaustive manner. The second idea is that an important function of both human concepts and of their protoconceptual ancestors in the animal kingdom is to make distinctions or discriminations. We shall thus look at the human conceptual apparatus as being, in large part, a discrimination engine. How are these discriminations realized in humans and other beings? Presumably, some discriminative mechanisms are innate, while others are acquired through learning. But how is learning accomplished? The third idea from cognitive science is that adaptive discrimination is realized through neural networks, and that the properties of this realizing system explains familiar features of human thought that seem puzzling when viewed through other lenses, such as the logical analysis of language. The fourth and
Horgan, Terence E. (1998). Recognitional concepts and the compositionality of concept possession. Philosophical Issues 9:27-33.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Jacob, Pierre (online). Can semantic properties be noncausal? (Comment on fodor).   (Google)
Jackendoff, Ray S. (1989). What is a concept, that a person may grasp it? Mind and Language 4:68-102.   (Cited by 20 | Google | More links)
Johnson, Kent (2004). From impossible words to conceptual structure: The role of structure and processes in the lexicon. Mind and Language 19 (3):334-358.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Jutronic, Dunja (2001). Is there a third way of concept acquisition? Acta Analytica 16 (26):97-108.   (Google)
Jylkkä, Jussi (2008). Concepts and Reference: Defending a Dual Theory of Natural Kind Concepts. Dissertation, University of Turku   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this thesis I argue that the psychological study of concepts and categorisation, and the philosophical study of reference are deeply intertwined. I propose that semantic intuitions are a variety of categorisation judgements, determined by concepts, and that because of this, concepts determine reference. I defend a dual theory of natural kind concepts, according to which natural kind concepts have distinct semantic cores and non-semantic identification procedures. Drawing on psychological essentialism, I suggest that the cores consist of externalistic placeholder essence beliefs. The identification procedures, in turn, consist of prototypes, sets of exemplars, or possibly also theory-structured beliefs. I argue that the dual theory is motivated both by experimental data and theoretical considerations. The thesis consists of three interrelated articles. Article I examines philosophical causal and description theories of natural kind term reference, and argues that they involve, or need to involve, certain psychological elements. I propose a unified theory of natural kind term reference, built on the psychology of concepts. Article II presents two semantic adaptations of psychological essentialism, one of which is a strict externalistic Kripkean-Putnamian theory, while the other is a hybrid account, according to which natural kind terms are ambiguous between internalistic and externalistic senses. We present two experiments, the results of which support the strict externalistic theory. Article III examines Fodor’s influential atomistic theory of concepts, according to which no psychological capacities associated with concepts constitute them, or are necessary for reference. I argue, contra Fodor, that the psychological mechanisms are necessary for reference.
Jylkkä, Jussi; Railo, Henry & Haukioja, Jussi (2009). Psychological Essentialism and Semantic Externalism: Evidence for Externalism in Lay Speakers' Language Use. Philosophical Psychology 22 (1):37-60.   (Google)
Abstract: Some experimental studies have recently claimed to undermine semantic externalism about natural kind terms. However, it is unclear how philosophical accounts of reference can be experimentally tested. We present two externalistic adaptations of psychological placeholder essentialism, a strict externalist and a hybrid externalist view, which are experimentally testable. We examine Braisby's et al. (1996) study which claims to undermine externalism, and argue that the study fails in its aims. We conducted two experiments, the results of which undermine internalism and the hybrid theory, and support strict externalism. Our conclusion is that lay speakers' natural kind concepts involve a belief in an external category essence, which determines reference.
Jylkkä, Jussi (2008). Theories of natural kind term reference and empirical psychology. Philosophical Studies 139 (2):153-169.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that the causal and description theories of natural kind term reference involve certain psychological elements. My main goal is to refine these theories with the help of empirical psychology of concepts, and to argue that the refinement process ultimately leads to the dissolution of boundaries between the two kinds of theories. However, neither the refined theories nor any other existing theories provide an adequate answer to the question of what makes natural kind terms rigid. To provide an answer to this question I conclude my paper by introducing a framework of a unified theory of natural kind term reference that is built on the empirical psychology of concepts
Jylkkä, Jussi (2009). Why Fodor's theory of concepts fails. Minds and Machines 19 (1):25-46.   (Google)
Abstract: Fodor’s theory of concepts holds that the psychological capacities, beliefs or intentions which determine how we use concepts do not determine reference. Instead, causal relations of a specific kind between properties and our dispositions to token a concept are claimed to do so. Fodor does admit that there needs to be some psychological mechanisms mediating the property–concept tokening relations, but argues that they are purely accidental for reference. In contrast, I argue that the actual mechanisms that sustain the reference determining concept tokening relations are necessary for reference. Fodor’s atomism is thus undermined, since in order to refer with a concept it is necessary to possess some specific psychological capacities
Keil, Frank C. (1989). Spiders in the web of belief: The tangled relations between concepts and theories. Mind and Language 4:43-50.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Keil, Frank C. & Wilson, Robert A. (2000). The concept concept: The wayward path of cognitive science. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):308-318.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Khalidi, Muhammad Ali (1995). Two concepts of concept. Mind and Language 10 (4):402-22.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Two main theories of concepts have emerged in the recent psychological literature: the Prototype Theory (which considers concepts to be self-contained lists of features) and the Theory Theory (which conceives of them as being embedded within larger theoretical networks). Experiments supporting the first theory usually differ substantially from those supporting the second, which suggests that these the· ories may be operating at different levels of explanation and dealing with different entities. A convergence is proposed between the Theory Theory and the intentional stance in the philosophy of language and mind. From this stance, concepts should not be thought of as concrete physical entities
Kwong, Jack M. C. (2007). Is conceptual atomism a plausible theory of concepts? Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):413-434.   (Google)
Abstract: Conceptual atomism is the view according to which most lexical concepts lack ‘internal’ or constituent structure. To date, it has not received much attention from philosophers and psychologists. A centralreason is that it is thought to be an implausible theory of concepts, resulting in untenable implications. The main objective of this paper is to present conceptual atomism as a viable alternative, with a view toachieving two aims: the first, to characterize and to elucidate conceptual atomism; and the second, to dispel some misconceptions associated with it. My aim is to show that the prospect of conceptualatomism is a promising one
Kwong, Jack M. C. (2006). Why concepts can't be theories. Philosophical Explorations 9 (3):309-325.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I present an alternative argument for Jerry Fodor's recent conclusion that there are currently no tenable theories of concepts in the cognitive sciences and in the philosophy of mind. Briefly, my approach focuses on the 'theory-theory' of concepts. I argue that the two ways in which cognitive psychologists have formulated this theory lead to serious difficulties, and that there cannot be, in principle, a third way in which it can be reformulated. Insofar as the 'theory-theory' is supposed to replace, and to rectify the problems of, the earlier 'classical' and 'probabilistic' theories, its failure confirms Fodor's original observation. Since my critique does not rest on controversial philosophical assumptions and is readily available from within the cognitive sciences, it is a stronger argument than Fodor's
Landau, Barbara (2000). Concepts, the lexicon and acquisition: Fodor's new challenge. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):319-326.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Laurence, Stephen & Margolis, Eric (1999). Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press.   (Cited by 15 | Google | More links)
Lawlor, Krista (2005). Confused thought and modes of presentation. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (218):21-36.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Ruth Millikan has long argued that the phenomenon of confused thought requires us to abandon certain traditional programmes for mental semantics. On the one hand she argues that confused thought involves confused concepts, and on the other that Fregean senses, or modes of presentation, cannot be useful in theorizing about minds capable of confused thinking. I argue that while we might accept that concepts can be confused, we have no reason to abandon modes of presentation. Making sense of confused thought requires recognizing modes of presentation
Levine, A. & Bickhard, Mark H. (1999). Concepts: Where Fodor went wrong. Philosophical Psychology 12 (1):5-23.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In keeping with other recent efforts, Fodor's CONCEPTS focuses on the metaphysics of conceptual content, bracketing such epistemological questions as, "How can we know the contents of our concepts?" Fodor's metaphysical account of concepts, called "informational atomism," stipulates that the contents of a subject's concepts are fixed by the nomological lockings between the subject and the world. After sketching Fodor's "what else?" argument in support of this view, we offer a number of related criticisms. All point to the same conclusion: Fodor is ultimately not merely bracketing the epistemology of conceptual content; his theory makes answers to the epistemological questions impossible
Levine, Joseph (1995). On what it is like to grasp a concept. Philosophical Issues 6:38-43.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Livingston, Kenneth R. (1989). Concepts, categories, and epistemology. Philosophia 19 (2-3):265-300.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Lloyd, A. C. (1958). How concepts contain beliefs. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 58:289-304.   (Google)
Loockvane, Philip R. (ed.) (1999). The Nature of Concepts: Evolution, Structure, and Representation. Routledge.   (Google)
Abstract: The Nature of Concepts examines a central issue for all the main disciplines in cognitive science: how the human mind creates and passes on to other human minds a concept. An excellent cross-disciplinary collection with contributors including Steven Pinker, Andy Clarke and Henry Plotkin
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Abstract: According to the view that Peacocke elaborates in _A Study of Concepts_ (1992), a concept can be individuated by providing the conditions a thinker must satisfy in or- der to possess that concept. Hence possessions conditions for concepts should be specifiable in a way that respects a non-circularity constraint. In a more recent paper
Ludwig, Kirk A. (1994). Blueprint for a science of mind: A critical notice of Christopher Peacocke's a study of concepts. Mind and Language 9 (4):469-491.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Machery, Edouard (2007). 100 years of psychology of concepts: The theoretical notion of concept and its operationalization. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):63-84.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The operationalization of scienti?c notions is instrumental in enabling experimental evidence to bear on scienti?c propositions. Conceptual change should thus translate into operationalization change. This article describes some important experimental works in the psychology of concepts since the beginning of the twentieth century. It is argued that since the early days of this ?eld, psy- chologists
Machery, Edouard & Säppälä, Selja, Against hybrid theories of concepts.   (Google)
Abstract: Psychologists of concepts’ traditional assumption that there are many properties common to all concepts has been subject to devastating critiques in psychology and in the philosophy of psychology. However, it is currently unclear what approach to concepts is best suited to replace this traditional assumption. In this article, we compare two competing approaches, the Heterogeneity Hypothesis and the hybrid theories of concepts, and we present an empirical argument that tentatively supports the former over the latter
Machery, Edouard (2005). Concepts are not a natural kind. Philosophy of Science 72 (3):444-467.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In cognitive psychology, concepts are those data structures that are stored in long-term memory and are used by default in human beings
Machery, Edouard (2006). Concept empiricism: A methodological critique. Cognition.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Machery, Edouard (2009). Doing Without Concepts. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework. In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to make sense of the research on concepts in psychology and neuropsychology. Machery shows that the class of concepts divides into several distinct kinds that have little in common with one another and that for this very reason, it is a mistake to attempt to encompass all known phenomena within a single theory of concepts. In brief, concepts are not a natural kind. Machery concludes that the theoretical notion of concept should be eliminated from the theoretical apparatus of contemporary psychology and should be replaced with theoretical notions that are more appropriate for fulfilling psychologists' goals. The notion of concept has encouraged psychologists to believe that a single theory of concepts could be developed, leading to useless theoretical controversies between the dominant paradigms of concepts. Keeping this notion would slow down, and maybe prevent, the development of a more adequate classification and would overshadow the theoretical and empirical issues that are raised by this more adequate classification. Anyone interested in cognitive science's emerging view of the mind will find Machery's provocative ideas of interest.
Machery, Edouard (forthcoming). One hundred years of psychology of concepts: Theoretical notions and their operationalization. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.   (Google)
Margolis, Eric & Laurence, Stephen (2002). Concepts. In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell.   (Cited by 79 | Google | More links)
Markman, A. & Stilwell, H. C. (2004). Concepts a la modal: An extended review of Prinz's furnishing the mind. Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):391-401.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In Furnishing the mind, Prinz defends a view of concept representation that assumes all representations are rooted in perception. This view is attractive, because it makes clear how concepts could be learned from experience in the world. In this paper, we discuss three limitations of the view espoused by Prinz. First, the central proposal requires more detail in order to support the claim that all representations are modal. Second, it is not clear that a theory of concepts must make a realist assumption. Third, the arguments focus on object categories that can be described by features, which are only one of many types of categories. Despite the flaws in the book, however, it clearly highlights a road that can be taken by those interested in defending an empiricist view of concepts
Margolis, Eric & Laurence, Stephen (1999). Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press.   (Cited by 79 | Google | More links)
Margolis, Eric (1998). How to acquire a concept. Mind and Language 13 (3):347-369.   (Cited by 39 | Google | More links)
Margolis, Eric (1998). Implicit conceptions and the phenomenon of abandoned principles. Philosophical Issues 9:105-114.   (Google | More links)
Margolis, Eric & Laurence, Stephen (2003). Should we trust our intuitions? Deflationary accounts of the analytic data. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):299-323.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: At least since W. V. O. Quine's famous critique of the analytic/synthetic distinction, philosophers have been deeply divided over whether there are any analytic truths. One line of thought suggests that the simple fact that people have 'intuitions of analyticity' might provide an independent argument for analyticities. If defenders of analyticity can explain these intuitions and opponents cannot, then perhaps there are analyticities after all. We argue that opponents of analyticity have some unexpected resources for explaining these intuitions and that, accordingly, the argument from intuition fails.
Margolis, Eric & Laurence, Stephen (2007). The ontology of concepts: Abstract objects or mental representations? Noûs 41 (4):561-593.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is a concept? Philosophers have given many different answers to this question, reflecting a wide variety of approaches to the study of mind and language. Nonetheless, at the most general level, there are two dominant frameworks in contemporary philosophy. One proposes that concepts are mental representations, while the other proposes that they are abstract objects. This paper looks at the differences between these two approaches, the prospects for combining them, and the issues that are involved in the dispute. We argue that powerful motivations have been offered in support of both frameworks. This suggests the possibility of combining the two. Unlike Frege, we hold that the resulting position is perfectly coherent and well worth considering. Nonetheless, we argue that it should be rejected along with the view that concepts are abstract objects
Margolis, Eric (1995). The significance of the theory analogy in the psychological study of concepts. Mind and Language 10 (1-2):45-71.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Margolis, Eric (1999). What is conceptual glue? Minds and Machines 9 (2):241-255.   (Google | More links)
Materna, Pavel (2005). Are concepts A Priori? In L. Behounek & M. Bilkova (eds.), The Logica Yearbook 2004. Praha: Filosofia.   (Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1997). A common structure for concepts of individuals, stuffs, and kinds: More mama, more milk, and more mouse. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):55-65.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Concepts are highly theoretical entities. One cannot study them empirically without committing oneself to substantial preliminary assumptions. Among the competing theories of concepts and categorization developed by psychologists in the last thirty years, the implicit theoretical assumption that what falls under a concept is determined by description (descriptionism) has never been seriously challenged. I present a nondescriptionist theory of our most basic concepts, substances, which include (1) stuffs (gold, milk), (2) real kinds (cat, chair), and (3) individuals (Mama, Bill Clinton, the Empire State Building). On the basis of something important that all three have in common, our earliest and most basic concepts of substances are identical in structure. The membership of the category cat, like that of Mama, is a natural unit in nature, to which the concept cat does something like pointing, and continues to point despite large changes in the properties the thinker represents the unit as having. For example, large changes can occur in the way a child identifies cats and the things it is willing to call cat without affecting the extension of its word cat. The difficulty is to cash in the metaphor of pointing in this context. Having substance concepts need not depend on knowing words, but language interacts with substance concepts, completely transforming the conceptual repertoire. I will discuss how public language plays a crucial role in both the acquisition of substance concepts and their completed structure. Key Words: basic-level categories; categorization; child language; concepts; externalism; names; natural kinds; Putnam; theory of meaning
Millikan, Ruth G. (1998). A more plausible kind of "recognitional concept". Philosophical Issues 9:35-41.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (online). How we make our ideas clear: Empiricist epistemology for empirical concepts.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2000). Introducing substance concepts. In Ruth G. Millikan (ed.), On Clear and Confused Ideas. Cambridge.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1994). On unclear and indistinct ideas. Philosophical Perspectives 8:75-100.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Millar, Alan (1994). Possessing concepts. Mind 103 (409).   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Millar, Alan (1994). Possessing concepts: Christopher Peacocke's a study of concepts. Mind 103 (409):73-82.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Neisser, U. (ed.) (1981). Concepts and Conceptual Development. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 137 | Google)
Nelkin, Norton (1997). Consciousness and the origins of thought. Mind and Language 12 (2):178–180.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This book offers a comprehensive and broadly rationalist theory of the mind which continually tests itself against experimental results and clinical data. Taking issue with Empiricists who believe that all knowledge arises from experience and that perception is a non-cognitive state, Norton Nelkin argues that perception is cognitive, constructive, and proposition-like. Further, as against Externalists who believe that our thoughts have meaning only insofar as they advert to the world outside our minds, he argues that meaning is determined 'in the head'. Finally, he offers an account of how we acquire some of our most basic concepts, including the concept of the self and that of other minds
Osherson, Daniel N. & Smith, Edward E. (1981). On the adequacy of prototype theory as a theory of concepts. Cognition 9:35-58.   (Cited by 119 | Google | More links)
Pacherie, Elisabeth (2001). Conscious experience and concept-forming abilities. Acta Analytica 16 (26):45-52.   (Google | More links)
Paternoster, Alfredo (1998). The alleged incompatibility of prototypes and compositionality. Acta Analytica 20 (20):61-69.   (Google)
Peacocke, Christopher (1992). A Study of Concepts. MIT Press.   (Cited by 496 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1996). Can a theory of concepts explain the A Priori: A reply to Skorupski. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (1):154-60.   (Google)
Peacocke, Christopher, Conceiving of conscious states.   (Google)
Abstract: For a wide range of concepts, a thinker’s understanding of what it is for a thing to fall under the concept plausibly involves knowledge of an identity. It involves knowledge that the thing has to have the same property as is exemplified in instantiation of the concept in some distinguished, basic instance. This paper addresses the question: can we apply this general model of the role of identity in understanding to the case of subjective, conscious states? In particular, can we explain our understanding of what it is for someone else to be in a particular conscious state in terms of our knowledge of the relation of identity which that state bears to some of our own states?[1] This is a large issue, with many ramifications both within and beyond the philosophy of mind; so let me give a map for the route I aim to take. We first need to consider the features of explanations of concepts in terms of identity in domains outside the mental. There are substantial constraints on legitimate explanation of concepts in terms of identity. There are also reasons that it is harder to meet these constraints in the case of concepts of conscious states than it is in other cases. I will go on to suggest a way in which we can overcome the special difficulties of the conscious case, and to try to elaborate the nature both of our understanding of first person applications of concepts of conscious states, and of our grasp of an identity relation applied to these states. A positive account of understanding in this area, as in any other, has to dovetail with a credible epistemology of conscious states in oneself and in others. I will offer something under that head, and say how the resulting position steers a middle way distinct from each of the two classic rival positions on conscious states of the later Wittgenstein on the one hand, and of Frege on the other
Peacocke, Christopher (1996). Can possession conditions individuate concepts? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):433-460.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (2000). Fodor on concepts: Philosophical aspects. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):327-340.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (2004). Interrelations: Concepts, knowledge, reference and structure. Mind and Language 19 (1):85-98.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What are the relations between the items mentioned in my title? This question is raised by Jerry Fodor
Peacocke, Christopher (2003). Implicit conceptions, understanding, and rationality. In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. MIT Press.   (Cited by 35 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1989). Possession conditions: A focal point for theories of concepts. Mind and Language 4:51-56.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1996). Precis of a study of concepts. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):407-52.   (Cited by 6 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (2005). Rationale and maxims in the study of concepts. Noûs 39 (1):167-78.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Is there any good reason for thinking that a concept is individuated by the condition for a thinker to possess it? Why is that approach superior to alternative accounts of the individuation of concepts? These are amongst the fundamental questions raised by Wayne Davis
Peacocke, Christopher (1991). The metaphysics of concepts. Mind 100 (399):525-46.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (2000). Theories of concepts: A Wider task. European Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):298-321.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1996). The relation between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts. In Peter Millican & A. Clark (eds.), Machines and Thought. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Peacocke, Christopher (1989). What are concepts? Midwest Studies of Philosophy 14:1-28.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Perlman, Mark (2000). Conceptual Flux: Mental Representation, Misrepresentation, and Concept Change. Kluwer.   (Google)
Abstract: Readership: One of the most thorough examinations of mental representation and meaning holism available, this book should be read by everyone interested in the...
Philipse, Herman (1994). Peacocke on concepts. Inquiry 37 (2):225 – 252.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Piccinini, Gualtiero & Scott, Sam (2006). Splitting concepts. Philosophy of Science 73 (4):390-409.   (Google)
Abstract: A common presupposition in the concepts literature is that concepts constitute a sin- gular natural kind. If, on the contrary, concepts split into more than one kind, this literature needs to be recast in terms of other kinds of mental representation. We offer two new arguments that concepts, in fact, divide into different kinds: (a) concepts split because different kinds of mental representation, processed independently, must be posited to explain different sets of relevant phenomena; (b) concepts split because different kinds of mental representation, processed independently, must be posited to explain responses to different kinds of category. Whether these arguments are sound remains an open empirical question, to be resolved by future empirical and theoretical work.
Pitt, David (1999). In defense of definitions. Philosophical Psychology 12 (2):139-156.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The arguments of Fodor, Garret, Walker and Parkes [(1980) Against definitions, Cognition, 8, 263-367] are the source of widespread skepticism in cognitive science about lexical semantic structure. Whereas the thesis that lexical items, and the concepts they express, have decompositional structure (i.e. have significant constituents) was at one time "one of those ideas that hardly anybody [in the cognitive sciences] ever considers giving up" (p. 264), most researchers now believe that "[a]ll the evidence suggests that the classical [(decompositional)] view is wrong as a general theory of concepts" [Smith, Medin & Rips (1984) A psychological approach to concepts: comments on Rey, Cognition, 17, 272], and cite Fodor et al. (1980) as "sounding the death knell for decompositional theories" [MacNamara & Miller (1989) Attributes of theories of meaning, Psychological Bulletin, 106, 360]. I argue that the prevailing skepticism is unmotivated by the arguments in Fodor et al. Fodor et al. misrepresent the form, function and scope of the decompositional hypothesis, and the procedures they employ to test for the psychological reality of definitions are flawed. I argue, further, that decompositional explanations of the phenomena they consider are preferable to their primitivist alternatives, and, hence, that there is prima facie reason to accept them as evidence for the existence of decompositional structure. Cognitive scientists would, therefore, do well to revert to their former commitment to the decompositional hypothesis
Prinz, Jesse J. (2002). Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis. MIT Press.   (Cited by 118 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In Furnishing the Mind, Jesse Prinz attempts to swing the pendulum back toward empiricism.
Prinz, Jesse J. & Clark, A. (2004). Putting concepts to work: Some thoughts for the twenty first century. Mind and Language 19 (1):57-69.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Prinz, Jesse J. (2004). Sensible ideas: A reply to Markman and Stilwell and Sarnecki. Philosophical Psychology 17:419-30.   (Google | More links)
Prinz, Jesse J. (2004). Sensible ideas: A reply to Sarnecki and Markman and Stilwell. Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):419-430.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In Furnishing the mind, I argued that concepts are couched in representational formats that are indigenous to sensory systems. I called this thesis "concept empiricism," because I think it is was a central tenet of the philosophical program defended by classical British empiricists, such as Locke and Hume. I still think that concept empiricism is true, and more empirical evidence has accrued since the book went to press. That's the good news. The bad news is that able critics have marshaled a variety of powerful arguments against empiricism. Sarnecki (this volume) and Markman and Stilwell (this volume) have devised a battery of challenging objections. Their commentaries are charitable and incisive. They represent my proposals accurately, and they raise serious worries. I cannot do justice to everything they say in this response, but I will try to indicate where I would make concessions and where I would dig in my heels. I will begin with a few introductory remarks to motivate empiricism, and then address objections
Prinz, Jesse J. (2007). Thoughts of real kinds. In Jesse J. Prinz (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Prinz, Jesse J. (2005). The return of concept empiricism. In H. Cohen & C. Leferbvre (eds.), Categorization and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this chapter, I outline and defend a version of concept empiricism. The theory has four central tenets: Concepts represent categories by reliable causal relations to category instances; conceptual representations of category vary from occasion to occasion; these representations are perceptually based; and these representations are all learned, not innate. The last two tenets on this list have been central to empiricism historically, and the first two have been developed in more recent years. I look at each in turn, and then I discuss the most obvious objection to empiricism. According to that objection, some concepts cannot be perceptually based because they represent things that are abstract, and hence unperceivable. I discuss two standard examples: democracy and moral badness. I argue that both can be explained using resources available to the empiricist
Putnam, Hilary (1956). Reds, greens, and logical analysis. Philosophical Review 65 (April):206-217.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Recanati, F. (2002). The Fodorian fallacy. Analysis 62 (4):285-89.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Rellihan, Matthew (2005). Epistemic boundedness and the universality of thought. Philosophical Studies 125 (2):219-250.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Fodor argues that our minds must have epistemic limitations because there must be endogenous constraints on the class of concepts we can acquire. However, his argument for the existence of these endogenous constraints is falsified by the phenomenon of the deferential acquisition of concepts. If we allow for the acquisition of concepts through deferring to experts and scientific instruments, then our conceptual capacity will be without endogenous constraints, and there will be no reason to think that our minds are epistemically bounded
Rey, Georges (1983). Concepts and stereotypes. Cognition 15:237-62.   (Cited by 55 | Google)
Rey, Georges (2004). Fodor's ingratitude and change of heart? Mind and Language 19 (1):70-84.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Rey, Georges (1998). What implicit conceptions are unlikely to do. Philosophical Issues 9:93-104.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Rips, Lance J. (1995). The current status of research on concept combination. Mind and Language 10 (1-2):72-104.   (Cited by 50 | Google)
Rives, Bradley (2009). Concept cartesianism, concept pragmatism, and Frege cases. Philosophical Studies 144 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper concerns the dialectal role of Frege Cases in the debate between Concept Cartesians and Concept Pragmatists. I take as a starting point Christopher Peacocke’s argument that, unlike Cartesianism, his ‘Fregean’ Pragmatism can account for facts about the rationality and epistemic status of certain judgments. I argue that since this argument presupposes that the rationality of thoughts turn on their content, it is thus question-begging against Cartesians, who claim that issues about rationality turn on the form, not the content, of thoughts. I then consider Jerry Fodor’s argument that ‘modes of presentation’ are not identical with Fregean senses, and argue that explanatory considerations should leads us to reject his ‘syntactic’ treatment of Frege cases. Rejecting the Cartesian treatment of Frege cases, however, is not tantamount to accepting Peacocke’s claim that reasons and rationality are central to the individuation of concepts. For I argue that we can steer a middle course between Fodor’s Cartesianism and Peacocke’s Pragmatism, and adopt a form of Pragmatism that is constrained by Fregean considerations, but at the same time denies that concepts are constitutively tied to reasons and rationality
Robbins, Philip (2002). How to Blunt the Sword of compositionality. Noûs 36 (2):313-334.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Ryder, Dan (online). Concept acquisition: How to get something from nothing.   (Google)
Ryder, Dan (forthcoming). Empiricism regained (comments on Prinz's Furnishing the Mind). Metascience.   (Google)
Sarnecki, John (2006). Retracing our steps: Fodor's new old way with concept acquisition. Acta Analytica 21 (40):41-73.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The acquisition of concepts has proven especially difficult for philosophers and psychologists to explain. In this paper, I examine Jerry Fodor’s most recent attempt to explain the acquisition of concepts relative to experiences of their referents. In reevaluating his earlier position, Fodor attempts to co-opt informational semantics into an account of concept acquisition that avoids the radical nativism of his earlier views. I argue that Fodor’s attempts ultimately fail to be persuasive. He must either accept his earlier nativism or adopt a rational causal model of concept acquisition. His animus towards the latter dictates, in my view, a return to the nativism with which he began
Sarnecki, John (2004). The multimedia mnd: An analysis of Prinz on concepts. Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):403-18.   (Google)
Abstract: In his new book, Furnishing the mind, Jesse Prinz argues that a new form of empiricism can break the logjam that currently frustrates attempts to develop a theory of concepts. I argue that Prinz's new way with empiricism is ultimately unsuccessful. In maintaining that all cognition is reducible to perceptual constructs, Prinz is unable to provide an effective model of the nature of individual concepts or their role in thought. Three major problems are addressed in reverse order. Prinz does not show how abstract concepts can be reduced to perceptual states. His commitment to a modal theory of cognition requires the existence of a rich nonperceptual linking system that cannot be accounted for within his empiricism. Finally, his commitment to what he calls proxytypes is not compatible with the individuation of individual concepts. As a consequence, it is impossible to delineate the content of individual thoughts
Schroeder, Timothy (2007). A recipe for concept similarity. Mind and Language 22 (1):68-91.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Sometimes your concept and mine have exactly the same content. When this is so, it is comparatively easy for me to understand what you say when you deploy your concept, for us to disagree, agree, and so on. But what if your concept and mine do not have exactly the same content? This question has occupied a number of philosophers, including Paul Churchland, Jerry Fodor, and Ernie Lepore. This paper develops a novel and rigorous measure of concept similarity, Proportion, such that concepts with different contents but sufficiently high Proportion scores will also conduce to understanding, agreement, and disagreement
Schiffer, Stephen R. (1998). Doubts about implicit conceptions. Philosophical Issues 9:89-91.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Schiffer, Stephen R. (1998). Meanings and concepts. Lingua E Stile 33 (3):399-411.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Sellars, Wilfrid S. (1948). Concepts as involving laws and inconceivable without them. Philosophy of Science 15 (October):287-313.   (Cited by 20 | Google | More links)
Sellars, Wilfrid S. (1974). Conceptual change. In Wilfrid S. Sellars (ed.), Essays in Philosophy and its History. Reidel.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Shapiro, Lawrence A. & Sober, Elliott (forthcoming). Epiphenomenalism - the do's and the don'ts. In G. Wolters & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Studies in Causality: Historical and Contemporary. University of Pittsburgh Press.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: When philosophers defend epiphenomenalist doctrines, they often do so by way of a priori arguments. Here we suggest an empirical approach that is modeled on August Weismann
Siebel, Mark (2004). A puzzle about concept possession. Grazer Philosophische Studien 68 (1):1-22.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: To have a propositional attitude, a thinker must possess the concepts included in its content. Surprisingly, this rather trivial principle refl ects badly on many theories of concept possession because, in its light, they seem to require too much. To solve this problem, I point out an ambiguity in attributions of the form 'S possesses the concept of Fs'. There is an undemanding sense which is involved in the given principle, whereas the theoretical claims concern a stronger sense which can be brought out by formulations such as 'S has an adequate conception of Fs' or 'S knows what Fs are'
Siebel, Mark (2000). Red watermelons and large elephants: A case against compositionality? Theoria 15 (38):263-280.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Sinatra, Gale M. & Pintrich, Paul R. (eds.) (2003). Intentional Conceptual Change. L. Erlbaum.   (Google)
Abstract: This volume brings together a distinguished, international list of scholars to explore the role of the learner's intention in knowledge change. Traditional views of knowledge reconstruction placed the impetus for thought change outside the learner's control. The teacher, instructional methods, materials, and activities were identified as the seat of change. Recent perspectives on learning, however, suggest that the learner can play an active, indeed, intentional role in the process of knowledge restructuring. This volume explores this new, innovative view of conceptual change learning using original contributions drawn from renowned scholars in a variety of disciplines. The volume is intended for scholars or advanced students studying knowledge acquisition and change, including educational psychology, developmental psychology, science education, cognitive science, learning science, instructional psychology, and instructional and curriculum studies
Smith, Edward E. & Douglas L., (1981). Categories and Concepts. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 1129 | Google)
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Sokolowski, Robert (1987). Exorcising concepts. Review of Metaphysics 40 (March):451-463.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Sosa, Ernest (1993). Abilities, concepts, and externalism. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google)
Stainton, Robert J. & Viger, Christopher D. (2000). Review of Jerry A. Fodor's Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Synthese 123 (1):131-151.   (Google)
Stemmer, Nathan (1989). Empiricist versus prototype theories of language acquisition. Mind and Language 4:201-221.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Strevens, Michael (online). The myth of the final criterion.   (Google | More links)
Sutton, John (2004). Are concepts mental representations or abstracta? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):89-108.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
McCormack, Teresa & Hoerl, Christoph (2008). Temporal Decentering and the Development of Temporal Concepts. In P. Indefrey & M. Gullberg (eds.), Time to Speak. Cognitive and Neural Prerequisites of Time in Language. Blackwell.   (Google)
Abstract: This article reviews some recent research on the development of temporal cognition, with reference to Weist's (1989) account of the development of temporal understanding. Weist's distinction between two levels of temporal decentering is discussed, and empirical studies that may be interpreted as measuring temporal decentering are described. We argue that if temporal decentering is defined simply in terms of the coordination of the temporal locations of three events, it may fail to fully capture the properties of mature temporal understanding. Characterizing the development of mature temporal cognition may require, in addition, distinguishing between event-dependent and event-independent thought about time. Experimental evidence relevant to such a distinction is described; these findings suggest that there may be important changes between 3 and 5 years in children's ability to think about points in time independently of the events that occur at those times.
Tennant, Neil (2002). The emperor's new concepts. Noûs 36 (16):345-377.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Christopher Peacocke, in A Study of Concepts, motivates his account of possession conditions for concepts by means of an alleged parallel with the conditions under which numbers are abstracted to give the numerosity of a predicate. There are, however, logical mistakes in Peacocke
Thagard, Paul R. (1990). Concepts and conceptual change. Synthese 82 (2):255-74.   (Cited by 27 | Google | More links)
Thagard, Paul R. (1997). Coherent and creative conceptual combinations. In T.B. Ward, S.M Smith & J. Viad (eds.), Creative Thought: An Investigation of Conceptual Structures and Processes. American Psychological Association.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Conceptual combinations range from the utterly mundane to the sublimely creative. Mundane combinations include a myriad of adjective-noun and noun-noun juxtapositions that crop up in everyday speaking and writing, such as blue car, cooked carrots, and radio phone. Creative combinations include some of the most important theoretical constructions in science, such as sound wave, bacterial infection, and natural selection. Both mundane and creative conceptual combinations are essential to our attempts to make sense of the world and people's utterances about it. This paper will show how the various aspects of conceptual combination discussed by Hampton (this volume), Shoben and Gagn
Toribio, Josefa (1998). Implicit conception of implicit conceptions. Philosophical Issues 9:115-120.   (Google | More links)
van Brakel, Jaap (1991). Meaning, prototypes, and the future of cognitive science. Minds and Machines 1:233-57.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Viger, Christopher D. & Dennett, Daniel C. (1999). Sort-of symbols? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22:613-613.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: John Maynard Keynes was once asked if he thought in words or pictures. "I think in thoughts," the great man is reported to have replied. Fair enough, but now what? What kind of a things are thoughts, and how do you make 'em out of brainstuff? Keynes' answer nicely alerts us to the dangers of oversimplification and false dichotomy, but otherwise is not much help. Similarly, Barsalou's alternative answer: "we think in perceptual symbols," is less informative than it might at first appear. There is something compelling about Barsalou's proposal that cognitive processes be described in terms of simulators (and simulations) involving modal as opposed to amodal formats or systems of representation. Restoring to serious attention the idea that you don't need a separate (amodal) symbol system to support cognitive functions is a worthwhile project. Moreover Barsalou has interesting suggestions about features that such a perceptuo-motor system ought to have if the brain, one way or another, is to do the work that needs to be done ("the ability to represent types and tokens, to produce categorical inferences, to combine symbols productively, to represent propositions, and to represent abstract concepts" [ms p5, SEC 1.2.1]]), but just stipulating that this is possibly what happens in the brain doesn't begin to address the hard questions
Vision, Gerald (2001). Flash! Fodor splits the atom. Analysis 61 (1):5-10.   (Google | More links)
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2007). Atomism, pluralism, and conceptual content. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):131-163.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Conceptual atomists argue that most of our concepts are primitive. I take up three arguments that have been thought to support atomism and show that they are inconclusive. The evidence that allegedly backs atomism is equally compatible with a localist position on which concepts are structured representations with complex semantic content. I lay out such a localist position and argue that the appropriate position for a non-atomist to adopt is a pluralist view of conceptual structure. I show several ways in which conceptual pluralism provides an advantage in satisfying the empirical and philosophical demands on a theory of conceptual structure and content
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2007). Concept empiricism and the vehicles of thought. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 9-10):156-183.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Concept empiricists are committed to the claim that the vehicles of thought are re-activated perceptual representations. Evidence for empiricism comes from a range of neuroscientific studies showing that perceptual regions of the brain are employed during cognitive tasks such as categorization and inference. I examine the extant neuroscientific evidence and argue that it falls short of establishing this core empiricist claim. During conceptual tasks, the causal structure of the brain produces widespread activity in both perceptual and non-perceptual systems. I lay out several conditions on what is required for a neural state to be a realizer of the functional role played by concepts, and argue that no subset of this activity can be singled out as the unique neural vehicle of conceptual thought. Finally, I suggest that, while the strongest form of empiricism is probably false, the evidence is consistent with several weaker forms of empiricism
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2008). First thoughts. Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):251 – 268.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Jean Mandler proposes an original and richly detailed theory of how concepts relate to sensory and motor capacities. I focus on her claims about conceptual representations and the processes that produce them. On her view, concepts are declarative representations of object kind information. First, I argue that since sensorimotor representations may be declarative, there is no bar to percepts being constituents of concepts. Second, I suggest that concepts track kinds and other categories not by representing kind information per se, but rather by being subject to the appropriate sort of inferential dispositions. These dispositions themselves may apply equally to perceptual and non-perceptual representations. Third, I argue that Mandler's proposed redescriptive mechanism for producing conceptual primitives can be viewed as a kind of Fodorian triggering device. Hence there may be less distance between her view and Fodor's than either one has supposed. I suggest that redescription needs to be supplemented with several other kinds of more flexible and open-ended concept learning mechanisms. Finally, I briefly sketch the view of conceptual development that results from adopting these proposals and contrast it with Mandler's
Weiskopf, Daniel A. & Bechtel, William P. (2004). Remarks on Fodor on having concepts. Mind and Language 19 (1):48-56.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Fodor offers a novel argument against Bare-bones Concept Pragmatism (BCP). He alleges that there are two circularities in BCP’s account of concept possession: a circularity in explaining concept possession in terms of the capacity to sort; and a circularity in explaining concept possession in terms of the capacity to draw inferences. We argue that neither of these circles is real
Weitz, M. (1988). Theories of Concepts: A History of the Major Philosophical Traditions. Routledge.   (Cited by 14 | Google)
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2008). The origins of concepts. Philosophical Studies 140 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Certain of our concepts are innate, but many others are learned. Despite the plausibility of this claim, some have argued that the very idea of concept learning is incoherent. I present a conception of learning that sidesteps the arguments against the possibility of concept learning, and sketch several mechanisms that result in the generation of new primitive concepts. Given the rational considerations that motivate their deployment, I argue that these deserve to be called learning mechanisms. I conclude by replying to the objections that these mechanisms cannot produce genuinely new content and cannot be part of genuinely cognitive explanations
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2009). The plurality of concepts. Synthese 169 (1).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Traditionally, theories of concepts in psychology assume that concepts are a single, uniform kind of mental representation. But no single kind of representation can explain all of the empirical data for which concepts are responsible. I argue that the assumption that concepts are uniformly the same kind of mental structure is responsible for these theories’ shortcomings, and outline a pluralist theory of concepts that rejects this assumption. On pluralism, concepts should be thought of as being constituted by multiple representational kinds, with the particular kind of concept used on an occasion being determined by the context. I argue that endorsing pluralism does not lead to eliminativism about concepts as an object of scientific interest
Wilson, Mark (2006). Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Mark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. Wandering Significance offers abundant new insights and perspectives for philosophers of language, mind, and science, and will also reward the interest of psychologists, linguists, and anyone curious about the mysterious ways in which useful language obtains its practical applicability
Woodfield, Andrew (1991). Conceptions. Mind 100 (399):547-72.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Zalta, Edward N. (2000). A (leibnizian) theory of concepts. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 3:137-183.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, the author develops a theory of concepts and shows that it captures many of the ideas about concepts that Leibniz expressed in his work. Concepts are first analyzed in terms of a precise background theory of abstract objects, and once concept summation and concept containment are defined, the axioms and theorems of Leibniz's calculus of concepts (in his logical papers) are derived. This analysis of concepts is then seamlessly connected with Leibniz's modal metaphysics of complete individual concepts. The fundamental theorem of Leibniz's modal metaphysics of concepts is proved, namely, whenever an object x has F contingently, then (i) the individual concept of x contains the concept F and (ii) there is a (counterpart) complete individual concept y which doesn't contain the concept F and which `appears' at some other possible world. Finally, the author shows how the concept containment theory of truth can be made precise and made consistent with a modern conception of truth
Zalta, Edward N. (2001). Fregean senses, modes of presentation, and concepts. Philosophical Perspectives 15:335-359.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: of my axiomatic theory of abstract objects.<sup>1</sup> The theory asserts the ex- istence not only of ordinary properties, relations, and propositions, but also of abstract individuals and abstract properties and relations. The

2.7a Perception-Based Theories of Concepts

Matthen, Mohan (2008). Seeing, doing, and knowing: A précis. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2):392–399.   (Google | More links)
Mazzone, Marco & Lalumera, Elisabetta (2010). Concepts: Stored or created? Minds and Machines 20 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Are concepts stable entities, unchanged from context to context? Or rather are they context-dependent structures, created on the fly? We argue that this does not constitute a genuine dilemma. Our main thesis is that the more a pattern of features is general and shared, the more it qualifies as a concept. Contextualists have not shown that conceptual structures lack a stable, general core, acting as an attractor on idiosyncratic information. What they have done instead is to give a contribution to the comprehension of how conceptual structure organized around such a stable core can produce contextually appropriate representations on demand

2.7b Inferential Theories of Concepts

Brigandt, Ingo (2006). A theory of conceptual advance: Explaining conceptual change in evolutionary, molecular, and evolutionary developmental biology. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The theory of concepts advanced in the dissertation aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. Traditional accounts in the philosophy of science have usually studied concepts in terms only of their reference; their concern is to establish a stability of reference in order to address the incommensurability problem. My discussion, in contrast, suggests that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) reference, 2) inferential role, and 3) the epistemic goal pursued with the concept's use. I argue that in the course of history a concept can change in any of these three components, and that change in one component—including change of reference—can be accounted for as being rational relative to other components, in particular a concept's epistemic goal. This semantic framework is applied to two cases from the history of biology: the homology concept as used in 19th and 20th century biology, and the gene concept as used in different parts of the 20th century. The homology case study argues that the advent of Darwinian evolutionary theory, despite introducing a new definition of homology, did not bring about a new homology concept (distinct from the pre-Darwinian concept) in the 19th century. Nowadays, however, distinct homology concepts are used in systematics/evolutionary biology, in evolutionary developmental biology, and in molecular biology. The emergence of these different homology concepts is explained as occurring in a rational fashion. The gene case study argues that conceptual progress occurred with the transition from the classical to the molecular gene concept, despite a change in reference. In the last two decades, change occurred internal to the molecular gene concept, so that nowadays this concept's usage and reference varies from context to context. I argue that this situation emerged rationally and that the current variation in usage and reference is conducive to biological practice. The dissertation uses ideas and methodological tools from the philosophy of mind and language, the philosophy of science, the history of science, and the psychology of concepts
Peacocke, Christopher (1998). Implicit conceptions, the "a priori," and the identity of concepts. Philosophical Issues 9:121-148.   (Google | More links)
Rives, Bradley (2009). The empirical case against analyticity: Two options for concept pragmatists. Minds and Machines 19 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: It is commonplace in cognitive science that concepts are individuated in terms of the roles they play in the cognitive lives of thinkers, a view that Jerry Fodor has recently been dubbed ‘Concept Pragmatism’. Quinean critics of Pragmatism have long argued that it founders on its commitment to the analytic/synthetic distinction, since without such a distinction there is plausibly no way to distinguish constitutive from non-constitutive roles in cognition. This paper considers Fodor’s empirical arguments against analyticity, and in particular his arguments against lexical decomposition and definitions, and argues that Concept Pragmatists have two viable options with respect to them. First, Concept Pragmatists can confront them head-on, and argue that they do not show that lexical items are semantically primitive or that lexical concepts are internally unstructured. Second, Pragmatists may accept that these arguments show that lexical concepts are atomic, but insist that this need not entail that Pragmatism is false. For there is a viable version of Concept Pragmatism that does not take lexical items to be semantically structured or lexical concepts to be internally structured. Adopting a version of Pragmatism that takes meaning relations to be specified by inference rules, or meaning postulates, allows one to accept the empirical arguments in favor of Concept Atomism, while at the same time deny that such arguments show that there are no analyticities. The paper concludes by responding to Fodor’s recent objection that such a version of Concept Pragmatism has unhappy consequences concerning the relation between concept constitution and concept possession
Schellenberg, Susanna (2000). Begriff, gehalt, folgerung. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 48 (5):780-789.   (Google | More links)

2.7c Prototype and Exemplar Theories of Concepts

Adajian, Thomas (2005). On the prototype theory of concepts and the definition of art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (3):231–236.   (Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1993). An extraterrestrial perspective on conceptual development. Mind and Language 8 (1):105-30.   (Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1998). Building Block dilemmas. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):26-27.   (Google)
Abstract: Feature-based theories of concept formation face two dilemmas. First, for many natural concepts, it is hard to see how the concepts of the features could be developmentally more basic. Second, concept formation must be guided by “abstraction heuristics,” but these can be neither universal principles of rational thought nor natural conventions
Mazzone, Marco & Lalumera, Elisabetta (2010). Concepts: Stored or created? Minds and Machines 20 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Are concepts stable entities, unchanged from context to context? Or rather are they context-dependent structures, created on the fly? We argue that this does not constitute a genuine dilemma. Our main thesis is that the more a pattern of features is general and shared, the more it qualifies as a concept. Contextualists have not shown that conceptual structures lack a stable, general core, acting as an attractor on idiosyncratic information. What they have done instead is to give a contribution to the comprehension of how conceptual structure organized around such a stable core can produce contextually appropriate representations on demand

2.7d Theory-Based Theories of Concepts

Brigandt, Ingo (2004). Conceptual role semantics, the theory theory, and conceptual change. In Proceedings First Joint Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Barcelona, Spain.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The purpose of the paper is twofold. I first outline a philosophical theory of concepts based on conceptual role semantics. This approach is explicitly intended as a framework for the study and explanation of conceptual change in science. Then I point to the close similarities between this philosophical framework and the theory theory of concepts, suggesting that a convergence between psychological and philosophical approaches to concepts is possible. An underlying theme is to stress that using a non-atomist account of concepts is crucial for the successful study of conceptual development and change

2.7e Atomist Theories of Concepts

Edwards, Kevan (2009). What concepts do. Synthese 170 (2).   (Google)
Abstract: This paper identifies and criticizes a line of reasoning that has played a substantial role in the widespread rejection of the view that Fodor has dubbed “Concept Atomism”. The line of reasoning is not only fallacious, but its application in the present case rests on a misconception about the explanatory potential of Concept Atomism. This diagnosis suggests the possibility of a new polemical strategy in support of Concept Atomism. The new strategy is more comprehensive than that which defenders of the view, namely Fodor, have employed
Rives, Bradley (2009). The empirical case against analyticity: Two options for concept pragmatists. Minds and Machines 19 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: It is commonplace in cognitive science that concepts are individuated in terms of the roles they play in the cognitive lives of thinkers, a view that Jerry Fodor has recently been dubbed ‘Concept Pragmatism’. Quinean critics of Pragmatism have long argued that it founders on its commitment to the analytic/synthetic distinction, since without such a distinction there is plausibly no way to distinguish constitutive from non-constitutive roles in cognition. This paper considers Fodor’s empirical arguments against analyticity, and in particular his arguments against lexical decomposition and definitions, and argues that Concept Pragmatists have two viable options with respect to them. First, Concept Pragmatists can confront them head-on, and argue that they do not show that lexical items are semantically primitive or that lexical concepts are internally unstructured. Second, Pragmatists may accept that these arguments show that lexical concepts are atomic, but insist that this need not entail that Pragmatism is false. For there is a viable version of Concept Pragmatism that does not take lexical items to be semantically structured or lexical concepts to be internally structured. Adopting a version of Pragmatism that takes meaning relations to be specified by inference rules, or meaning postulates, allows one to accept the empirical arguments in favor of Concept Atomism, while at the same time deny that such arguments show that there are no analyticities. The paper concludes by responding to Fodor’s recent objection that such a version of Concept Pragmatism has unhappy consequences concerning the relation between concept constitution and concept possession

2.7f Theories of Concepts, Misc

Gauker, Christopher (2007). A critique of the similarity space theory of concepts. Mind and Language 22 (4):317–345.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A similarity space is a hyperspace in which the dimensions represent various dimensions on which objects may differ. The similarity space theory of concepts is the thesis that concepts are regions of similarity spaces that are somehow realized in the brain. Proponents of such a theory of concepts include Paul Churchland and Peter Gärdenfors. This paper argues that the similarity space theory of concepts is mistaken because regions of similarity spaces cannot serve as the components of judgments. It emerges that although similarity spaces cannot model concepts, they may model a kind of nonconceptual representation
Gauker, Christopher (1993). An extraterrestrial perspective on conceptual development. Mind and Language 8 (1):105-30.   (Google | More links)
Shea, Nicholas, Getting clear about equivocal concepts.   (Google)
Abstract: Just how far can externalism go? In this exciting new book Ruth Millikan explores a radically externalist treatment of empirical concepts (Millikan 2000). For the last thirty years philosophy of mind’s ties to meaning internalism have been loosened. The theory of content has swung uncomfortably on its moorings in a fickle current, straining against opposing ties to mind and world. In this book Millikan casts conceptual content adrift from the thinker: what determines the content of a concept is not cognitively accessible. She has only the stanchion of the world to hold her theory fast. She hopes that the tide will turn, and the theory of meaning will come stably to rest downstream of this anchor. This book is a bold exploration of how that might be achieved

2.7g Conceptual Change

Brigandt, Ingo, An alternative to Kitcher's theory of conceptual progress and his account of the change of the Gene concept.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The present paper discusses Kitcher’s framework for studying conceptual change and progress. Kitcher’s core notion of reference potential is hard to apply to concrete cases. In addition, an account of conceptual change as change in reference potential misses some important aspects of conceptual change and conceptual progress. I propose an alternative framework that focuses on the inferences and explanations supported by scientific concepts. The application of my approach to the history of the gene concept offers a better account of the conceptual progress that occurred in the transition from the Mendelian to the molecular gene than Kitcher’s theory
Brigandt, Ingo (2006). A theory of conceptual advance: Explaining conceptual change in evolutionary, molecular, and evolutionary developmental biology. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The theory of concepts advanced in the dissertation aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. Traditional accounts in the philosophy of science have usually studied concepts in terms only of their reference; their concern is to establish a stability of reference in order to address the incommensurability problem. My discussion, in contrast, suggests that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) reference, 2) inferential role, and 3) the epistemic goal pursued with the concept's use. I argue that in the course of history a concept can change in any of these three components, and that change in one component—including change of reference—can be accounted for as being rational relative to other components, in particular a concept's epistemic goal. This semantic framework is applied to two cases from the history of biology: the homology concept as used in 19th and 20th century biology, and the gene concept as used in different parts of the 20th century. The homology case study argues that the advent of Darwinian evolutionary theory, despite introducing a new definition of homology, did not bring about a new homology concept (distinct from the pre-Darwinian concept) in the 19th century. Nowadays, however, distinct homology concepts are used in systematics/evolutionary biology, in evolutionary developmental biology, and in molecular biology. The emergence of these different homology concepts is explained as occurring in a rational fashion. The gene case study argues that conceptual progress occurred with the transition from the classical to the molecular gene concept, despite a change in reference. In the last two decades, change occurred internal to the molecular gene concept, so that nowadays this concept's usage and reference varies from context to context. I argue that this situation emerged rationally and that the current variation in usage and reference is conducive to biological practice. The dissertation uses ideas and methodological tools from the philosophy of mind and language, the philosophy of science, the history of science, and the psychology of concepts
Brigandt, Ingo, Biological kinds and the causal theory of reference.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper uses an example from biology, the homology concept, to argue that current versions of the causal theory of reference give an incomplete account of reference determination. It is suggested that in addition to samples and stereotypical properties, the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of natural kind terms
Brigandt, Ingo (2004). Conceptual role semantics, the theory theory, and conceptual change. In Proceedings First Joint Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Barcelona, Spain.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The purpose of the paper is twofold. I first outline a philosophical theory of concepts based on conceptual role semantics. This approach is explicitly intended as a framework for the study and explanation of conceptual change in science. Then I point to the close similarities between this philosophical framework and the theory theory of concepts, suggesting that a convergence between psychological and philosophical approaches to concepts is possible. An underlying theme is to stress that using a non-atomist account of concepts is crucial for the successful study of conceptual development and change
Brigandt, Ingo (2004). Holism, concept individuation, and conceptual change. In M. Hernandez Iglesias (ed.), Proceedings of the 4th Congress of the Spanish Society for Analytic Philosophy.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The paper discusses concept individuation in the context of scientific concepts and conceptual change in science. It is argued that some concepts can be individuated in different ways. A particular term may be viewed as corresponding to a single concept (which is ascribed to every person from a whole scientific field). But at the same time, we can legitimately individuate in a more fine grained manner, i.e., this term can also be considered as corresponding to two or several concepts (so that each of these concepts is attributed to a smaller group of persons only). The reason is that there are different philosophical and explanatory interests that underlie a particular study of the change of a scientific term. These interests determine how a concept is to be individuated; and as the same term can be subject to different philosophical studies and interests, its content can be individuated in different ways
Brigandt, Ingo (2006). Philosophical issues in experimental biology. Biology and Philosophy 21:423–435.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Review essay of The Philosophy of Experimental Biology by Marcel Weber (Cambridge University Press, 2005)
Brigandt, Ingo, Reference determination and conceptual change.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The paper discusses reference determination from the point of view of conceptual change in science. The first part of the discussion uses the homology concept, a natural kind term from biology, as an example. It is argued that the causal theory of reference gives an incomplete account of reference determination even in the case of natural kind terms. Moreover, even if descriptions of the referent are taken into account, this does not yield a satisfactory account of reference in the case of the homology concept. I suggest that in addition to the factors that standard theories of reference invoke the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of scientific concepts. In the second part, I argue for a moderate holism about reference determination according to which the set of conditions that determine the reference of a concept is relatively open and different conditions may be reference fixing depending on the context in which this concept is used. It is also suggested that which features are reference determining in a particular case may depend on the philosophical interests that underlie reference ascription and the study of conceptual change
Brigandt, Ingo (online). Scientific practice, conceptual change, and the nature of concepts.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The theory of concepts advanced in the present discussion aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. To this end, I suggest that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) the concept
Brigandt, Ingo (forthcoming). The Epistemic Goal of a Concept: Accounting for the Rationality of Semantic Change and Variation. Synthese.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The discussion presents a framework of concepts that is intended to account for the rationality of semantic change and variation, suggesting that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) reference, 2) inferential role, and 3) the epistemic goal pursued with the concept’s use. I argue that in the course of history a concept can change in any of these components, and that change in the concept’s inferential role and reference can be accounted for as being rational relative to the third component, the concept’s epistemic goal. This framework is illustrated and defended by application to the history of the gene concept. It is explained how the molecular gene concept grew rationally out of the classical gene concept despite a change in reference, and why the use and reference of the contemporary molecular gene concept may legitimately vary from context to context.
Brigandt, Ingo, The role a concept plays in science: The case of homology.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The present paper gives a philosophical analysis of the conceptual variation in the homology concept. It is argued that different homology concepts are used in evolutionary and comparative biology, in evolutionary developmental biology, and in molecular biology. The study uses conceptual role semantics, focusing on the inferences and explanations supported by concepts, as a heuristic tool to explain conceptual change. The differences between homology concepts are due to the fact that these concepts play different theoretical roles for different biological fields. The specific theoretical needs and explanatory interests of different research approaches lead to different homology concepts
Gerken, Mikkel (2009). Conceptual equivocation and epistemic relevance. Dialectica 63 (2):117-132.   (Google)
Abstract: Much debate has surrounded "switching" scenarios in which a subject's reasoning is said to exhibit the fallacy of equivocation ( Burge 1988 ; Boghossian 1992, 1994 ). Peter Ludlow has argued that such scenarios are "epistemically prevalent" and, therefore, epistemically relevant alternatives ( Ludlow 1995a ). Since a distinctive feature of the cases in question is that the subject blamelessly engages in conceptual equivocation, we may label them 'equivocational switching cases'. Ludlow's influential argument occurs in a discussion about compatibilism with regards to anti-individualism (or content externalism) and self-knowledge. However, the issue has wide-reaching consequences for many areas of epistemology. Arguably, the claim that equivocational switching cases are epistemically relevant may bear on the epistemology of inference, testimony, memory, group rationality and belief revision. Ludlow's argument proceeds from a now well-known "down to Earth" switching-case of a subject, Biff, who travels between the US and the UK. I argue that Ludlow's case-based argument fails to support the general claim that conceptual equivocational switching cases are prevalent and epistemically relevant. Thus, the discussion addresses the basis of some poorly understood issues regarding the epistemological consequences of anti-individualism. Simultaneously, the discussion is broadened from the narrow focus on self-knowledge. Finally, the critical discussion serves as the basis for some general reflections on epistemic relevance and the epistemic risks associated with conceptual equivocation. Specifically, I suggest that philosophy is an area where the risk of conceptual equivocation is extraordinarily high
Griffiths, Paul E. & Stotz, Karola (2008). Experimental philosophy of science. Philosophy Compass 3 (3):507–521.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Experimental philosophy of science gathers empirical data on how key scientific concepts are understood by particular scientific communities. In this paper we briefly describe two recent studies in experimental philosophy of biology, one investigating the concept of the gene, the other the concept of innateness. The use of experimental methods reveals facts about these concepts that would not be accessible using the traditional method of intuitions about possible cases. It also contributes to the study of conceptual change in science, which we understand as the result of a form of conceptual ecology, in which concepts become adapted to specific epistemic niches
Shea, Nicholas (forthcoming). New concepts can be learned. Biology and Philosophy.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Many have doubted whether the transition to genuinely new representational resources is susceptible to psychological explanation. In The Origin of Concepts (O.U.P. 2009), Susan Carey makes a strong empirical case for the existence of discontinuities in conceptual development. Carey also offers a plausible psychological explanation of some of these transitions, in particular of the child’s acquisition of the ability to represent natural numbers. The combination amounts to a forceful answer to puzzles about the learnability of new representations

2.7h Concept Possession

Lawlor, Krista (2007). A notional worlds approach to confusion. Mind and Language 22 (2):150–172.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: People often become confused, mistaking one thing for another, or taking two things to be the same. How should we assign semantic values to confused statements? Recently, philosophers have taken a pessimistic view of confusion, arguing that understanding confused belief demands significant departure from our normal interpretive practice. I argue for optimism. Our semantic treatment of confusion can be a lot like our semantic treatment of empty names. Surprisingly, perhaps, the resulting semantics lets us keep in place more of our everyday interpretive practices in the face of confused belief

2.7i Ontology of Concepts

Asher, Nicholas M. (1988). Semantic competence, linguistic understanding, and a theory of concepts. Philosophical Studies 53 (January):1-36.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)

2.7j Recognitional Concepts

Rives, Bradley (forthcoming). Concepts and perceptual belief: How (not) to defend recognitional concepts. Acta Analytica.   (Google)
Abstract: Recognitional concepts have the following characteristic property: thinkers are disposed to apply them to objects merely on the basis of undergoing certain perceptual experiences. I argue that a prominent strategy for defending the existence of constitutive connections among concepts, which appeals to thinkers’ semantic-cum-conceptual intuitions, cannot be used to defend the existence of recognitional concepts. I then outline and defend an alternative argument for the existence of recognitional concepts, which appeals to certain psychological laws

2.7k Concepts, Misc

Gallese, Vittorio & Lakoff, George, The brain's concepts: The role of the sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge.   (Google)
Abstract: Concepts are the elementary units of reason and linguistic meaning. They are conventional and relatively stable. As such, they must somehow be the result of neural activity in the brain. The questions are: Where? and How? A common philosophical position is that all concepts—even concepts about action and perception—are symbolic and abstract, and therefore must be implemented outside the brain’s sensory-motor system. We will argue against this position using (1) neuroscientific evidence; (2) results from neural computation; and (3) results about the nature of concepts from cognitive linguistics. We will propose that the sensory-motor system has the right kind of structure to characterise both sensory-motor and more abstract concepts. Central to this picture are the neural theory of language and the theory of cogs, according to which, brain structures in the sensory-motor regions are exploited to characterise the so-called “abstract” concepts that constitute the meanings of grammatical constructions and general inference patterns
Gauker, Christopher (1998). Are there wordlike concepts too? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):70-71.   (Google)
Abstract: Millikan proposes that there are mapping functions through which spoken sentences represent reality. Such mappings seem to depend on thoughts that words express and on concepts as components of such thoughts, but such concepts would conflict with Millikan's other claims about concepts and language
Gauker, Christopher (1998). Building Block dilemmas. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):26-27.   (Google)
Abstract: Feature-based theories of concept formation face two dilemmas. First, for many natural concepts, it is hard to see how the concepts of the features could be developmentally more basic. Second, concept formation must be guided by “abstraction heuristics,” but these can be neither universal principles of rational thought nor natural conventions
Glock, Hans-Johann (2009). Concepts, conceptual schemes and grammar. Philosophia 37 (4):653-668.   (Google)
Abstract: This paper considers the connection between concepts, conceptual schemes and grammar in Wittgenstein’s last writings. It lists eight claims about concepts that one can garner from these writings. It then focuses on one of them, namely that there is an important difference between conceptual and factual problems and investigations. That claim draws in its wake other claims, all of them revolving around the idea of a conceptual scheme, what Wittgenstein calls a ‘grammar’. I explain why Wittgenstein’s account does not fall prey to Davidson’s animadversions against the idea of a conceptual scheme as a force operating on a pre-conceptual content. In the sequel I deny that the distinction between grammatical and empirical propositions disappears in the last writings: it is neither deliberately abandoned, nor willy-nilly undermined by the admission of hinge propositions in On Certainty or by the role accorded to agreement in judgement
Gross, Steven (2001). Book review. Concepts: Where cognitive science went wrong Jerry Fodor. Mind 110 (438).   (Google)
Lalumera, Elisabetta (2005). A Simple Realist Account of the Normativity of Concepts. Disputatio (19):1-17.   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that a concept is applied correctly when it is applied to the kind
of things it is the concept of. Correctness as successful kind-tracking is
fulfilling an externally and naturalistically individuated standard. And the normative aspect of concept-application so characterized depends on the relational (non-individualistic) feature of conceptual content. I defend this view against two objections. The first is that norms should provide justifications for action, and the second involves a version of the thesis of indeterminacy of reference.
Lalumera, Elisabetta (2009). More than Words. In Kissine De Brabanter (ed.), Utterance Interpretation and Cognitive Models. Emerald.   (Google)
Schellenberg, Susanna (forthcoming). Ontological Minimalism about Phenomenology. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.   (Google)
Abstract: I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perceptual experience are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. Since a hallucinating subject is not related to any such objects or property-instances, the concepts she employs remain unsaturated. I argue that the phenomenology of hallucinations and perceptions can be identified with employing concepts and analogous nonconceptual structures. By doing so, I defend a minimalist view of the phenomenology of experience that (1) satisfies the Aristotelian principle according to which the existence of any type depends on its tokens and (2) amounts to a naturalized view of the phenomenology of experience.
Shea, Nicholas (forthcoming). New concepts can be learned. Biology and Philosophy.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Many have doubted whether the transition to genuinely new representational resources is susceptible to psychological explanation. In The Origin of Concepts (O.U.P. 2009), Susan Carey makes a strong empirical case for the existence of discontinuities in conceptual development. Carey also offers a plausible psychological explanation of some of these transitions, in particular of the child’s acquisition of the ability to represent natural numbers. The combination amounts to a forceful answer to puzzles about the learnability of new representations