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Summary Inferential theories of concepts hold that they are individuated by reference to their relationships with other concepts. These may be causal, functional, computational, inferential, or associative. So a concept such as PLUS is individuated by the fact that it plays the appropriate role in inferences concerning addition, and a concept such as WATER is individuated by its reference to concepts such as CLEAR, DRINKABLE, and LIQUID. Localistic inferential theories hold that only a small number of these inferences are needed to individuate a concept; holistic inferential theories hold that a concept is individuated by many or all of the inferences that it can participate in.
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  1. Jose Luis Bermudez (1999). Naturalism and Conceptual Norms. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (194):77-85.
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  2. Ingo Brigandt (2011). Natural Kinds and Concepts: A Pragmatist and Methodologically Naturalistic Account. In Jonathan Knowles & Henrik Rydenfelt (eds.), Pragmatism, Science and Naturalism. Peter Lang Publishing.
    The central aim of this essay is to put forward a notion of naturalism that broadly aligns with pragmatism. I do so by outlining my views on natural kinds and my account of concepts, which I have defended in recent publications (Brigandt 2009, in press-b). Philosophical accounts of both natural kinds and concepts are usually taken to be metaphysical endeavours, which attempt to develop a theory of the nature of natural kinds (as objectively existing entities of the world) or of (...)
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  3. Ingo Brigandt (2006). A Theory of Conceptual Advance: Explaining Conceptual Change in Evolutionary, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    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 (...)
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  4. Harold I. Brown, Conceptual Comparison and Conceptual Innovation.
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  5. Harold I. Brown (1986). Sellars, Concepts, and Conceptual Change. Synthese 68 (August):275-307.
    A major theme of recent philosophy of science has been the rejection of the empiricist thesis that, with the exception of terms which play a purely formal role, the language of science derives its meaning from some, possibly quite indirect, correlation with experience. The alternative that has been proposed is that meaning is internal to each conceptual system, that terms derive their meaning from the role they play in a language, and that something akin to "meaning" flows from conceptual framework (...)
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  6. Andy Clark & Jesse J. Prinz (2004). Putting Concepts to Work: Some Thoughts for the Twenty-First Century. Mind and Language 19 (1):57-69.
  7. Annalisa Coliva (2004). I concetti: Teorie ed esercizi. Carocci.
  8. Wayne A. Davis (2005). Concepts and Epistemic Individuation (Christopher Peacocke). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):290-325.
    Christopher Peacocke has presented an original version of the perennial philosophical thesis that we can gain substantive metaphysical and epistemological insight from an analysis of our concepts. Peacocke's innovation is to look at how concepts are individuated by their possession conditions, which he believes can be specified in terms of conditions in which certain propositions containing those concepts are accepted. The ability to provide such insight is one of Peacocke's major arguments for his theory of concepts. I will critically examine (...)
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  9. Wayne A. Davis (2005). Concepts and Epistemic Individuation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):290-325.
    Christopher Peacocke has presented an original version of the perennial philosophical thesis that we can gain substantive metaphysical and epistemological insight from an analysis of our concepts. Peacocke's innovation is to look at how concepts are individuated by their possession conditions, which he believes can be specified in terms of conditions in which certain propositions containing those concepts are accepted. The ability to provide such insight is one of Peacocke's major arguments for his theory of concepts. I will critically examine (...)
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  10. Dan López de Sa (2003). The Non-Circularity Constraint: Peacocke Vs. Peacocke. Teorema 22:85-93.
    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 order 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 “Implicit Conceptions, Understanding and Rationality” (1998a) Peacocke argues against his former view, in the light of the phenomenon of rationally accepting principles which do not follow from what (...)
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  11. Eric Dietrich (2001). Concepts: Fodor's Little Semantic BBs of Thought - A Critical Look at Fodor's Theory of Concepts -. J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 13 (2):89-94.
    I find it interesting that AI researchers don't use concepts very often in their theorizing. No doubt they feel no pressure to. This is because most AI researchers do use representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment, and basically all we know about concepts is that they are representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment.
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  12. Jonathan S. B. T. Evans (1989). Concepts and Inference. Mind and Language 4 (1-2):29-34.
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  13. Jerry A. Fodor (2004). Having Concepts: A Brief Refutation of the Twentieth Century. Mind and Language 19 (1):29-47.
  14. Jerry A. Fodor (2000). Replies to Critics. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):350-374.
  15. Jerry A. Fodor (1998). Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  16. Jerry A. Fodor (1995). Concepts: A Potboiler. Philosophical Issues 50 (1-3):133-51.
  17. Gilbert Harman (1990). Immanent and Transcendent Approaches to the Theory of Meaning. In Roger Gibson & Robert B. Barrett (eds.), Perspectives on Quine. Blackwell.
  18. L. (2003). The Non-Circularity Constraint: Peacocke Vs. Peacocke. Teorema 22 (1-2):85-93.
    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.
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  19. Kirk A. Ludwig (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.
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  20. Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.) (1999). Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press.
    The first part of the book centers around the fall of the Classical Theory of Concepts in the face of attacks by W. V. O. Quine, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor ...
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  21. Mark McCullagh (2011). How to Use a Concept You Reject. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):293-319.
    Inferentialist accounts of concept possession are often supported by examples in which rejection of some inference seems to amount to rejection of some concept, with the apparently implausible consequence that anyone who rejects the inference cannot so much as understand those who use the concept. This consequence can be avoided by distinguishing conditions necessary for direct uses of a concept (to describe the non-cognitive world) from conditions necessary for content-specifying uses (to specify what someone thinks or says). I consider how (...)
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  22. Alan Millar (1994). Possessing Concepts: Christopher Peacocke's a Study of Concepts. [REVIEW] Mind 103 (409):73-82.
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  23. Christopher Peacocke (2012). Conceiving of Conscious States. In J. Ellis & D. Guevara (eds.), Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind. Oup.
    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 (...)
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  24. Christopher Peacocke (2005). Rationale and Maxims in the Study of Concepts. Noûs 39 (1):167-78.
    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.
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  25. Christopher Peacocke (2004). Interrelations: Concepts, Knowledge, Reference and Structure. Mind and Language 19 (1):85-98.
    What are the relations between the items mentioned in my title? This question is raised by Jerry Fodor.
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  26. Christopher Peacocke (2003). Implicit Conceptions, Understanding, and Rationality. In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. Mit Press. 43-88.
  27. Christopher Peacocke (2000). Theories of Concepts: A Wider Task. European Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):298-321.
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  28. Christopher Peacocke (1998). Implicit Conceptions, the "a Priori," and the Identity of Concepts. Philosophical Issues 9:121-148.
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  29. Christopher Peacocke (1996). Can Possession Conditions Individuate Concepts? [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):433-460.
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  30. Christopher Peacocke (1996). Precis of a Study of Concepts. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):407-52.
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  31. Christopher Peacocke (1992). A Study of Concepts. MIT Press.
  32. Christopher Peacocke (1989). What Are Concepts? Midwest Studies of Philosophy 14 (1):1-28.
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  33. Herman Philipse (1994). Peacocke on Concepts. Inquiry 37 (2):225 – 252.
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  34. Jesse J. Prinz & A. Clark (2004). Putting Concepts to Work: Some Thoughts for the Twenty First Century. Mind and Language 19 (1):57-69.
    Fodor’s theory makes thinking prior to doing. It allows for an inactive agent or pure reflector, and for agents whose actions in various ways seem to float free of their own conceptual repertoires. We show that naturally evolved creatures are not like that. In the real world, thinking is always and everywhere about doing. The point of having a brain is to guide the actions of embodied beings in a complex material world. Some of those actions are, to be sure, (...)
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  35. Georges Rey (1998). What Implicit Conceptions Are Unlikely to Do. Philosophical Issues 9:93-104.
  36. Bradley Rives (2009). Concept Cartesianism, Concept Pragmatism, and Frege Cases. Philosophical Studies 144 (2):211 - 238.
    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, (...)
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  37. Bradley Rives (2009). The Empirical Case Against Analyticity: Two Options for Concept Pragmatists. Minds and Machines 19 (2):199-227.
    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 (...)
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  38. Susanna Schellenberg (2000). Begriff, Gehalt, Folgerung. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 48 (5):780-789.
  39. Susanna Schellenberg (1998). Review of Making It Explicit. [REVIEW] Philosopher Literatureanzeiger 51:187-195.
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  40. Stephen R. Schiffer (1998). Doubts About Implicit Conceptions. Philosophical Issues 9:89-91.
  41. Timothy Schroeder (2007). A Recipe for Concept Similarity. Mind and Language 22 (1):68-91.
    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 (...)
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  42. Wilfrid S. Sellars (1948). Concepts as Involving Laws and Inconceivable Without Them. Philosophy of Science 15 (October):287-313.
  43. Andrew Sneddon (2010). Thick Concepts and Holism About Reasons. Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (4):461-468.
    Thick moral concepts are a topic of particular disagreement in discussions of reasons holism. These concepts, such as justice, are called “thick” because they have both evaluative and descriptive aspects. Thin moral concepts, such as good, are purely evaluative. The disagreement concerns whether the fact that an action is, for example, just always a reason in favor of performing that action. The present argument follows Jonathan Dancy’s strategy of connecting moral reasons and concepts to those in other domains. If Dancy (...)
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  44. Pierre Steiner (2013). The Delocalized Mind. Judgements, Vehicles, and Persons. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2013 (3):1-24.
    Drawing on various resources and requirements (as expressed by Dewey, Wittgenstein, Sellars, and Brandom), this paper proposes an externalist view of conceptual mental episodes that does not equate them, even partially, with vehicles of any sort, whether the vehicles be located in the environment or in the head. The social and pragmatic nature of the use of concepts and conceptual content makes it unnecessary and indeed impossible to locate the entities that realize conceptual mental episodes in non-personal or subpersonal contentful (...)
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  45. Pierre Steiner (2012). Boundless Thought. The Case of Conceptual Mental Episodes. Manuscrito 35 (2):269-309.
  46. Neil Tennant (2002). The Emperor's New Concepts. Noûs 36 (16):345-377.
    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.
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  47. Josefa Toribio (1998). Implicit Conception of Implicit Conceptions. Philosophical Issues 9:115-120.
  48. Daniel A. Weiskopf (2009). Atomism, Pluralism, and Conceptual Content. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):131-163.
    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 concepls 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 (...)
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  49. Daniel A. Weiskopf & William P. Bechtel (2004). Remarks on Fodor on Having Concepts. Mind and Language 19 (1):48-56.
    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.
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  50. Daniel Whiting (2009). Meaning Holism and De Re Ascription. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):575-599.
    According to inferential role semantics (IRS), for an expression to have a particular meaning or express a certain concept is for subjects to be disposed to make, or to treat as proper, certain inferential transitions involving that expression.1 Such a theory of meaning is holistic, since according to it the meaning or concept any given expression possesses or expresses depends on the inferential relations it stands in to other expressions.
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