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Summary Debates on the ontology of concepts focus on what sorts of things they are. There are roughly three major positions on concept ontology. The first is that concepts are abstrata: non-psychological entities such as properties or Fregean senses. The second is that concepts are mental representations or some other type of psychological entities. The third is that concepts are abilities of some kind, such as the ability to recognize their instances.
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  1. Asuncion Alvarez (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
    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 (...)
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  2. Nicholas M. Asher (1988). Semantic Competence, Linguistic Understanding, and a Theory of Concepts. Philosophical Studies 53 (January):1-36.
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  3. Alex Barber (1998). The Pleonasticity of Talk About Concepts. Philosophical Studies 89 (1):53-86.
    The paper aims to disarm arguments, prevalent in diverse philosophical contexts, that deny the legitimacy of attributions of propositional attitudes on the grounds that the putative subject lacks one or more of the requite concepts. Its strategy is to offer and defend an extremely minimal account on concept possession. The agenda of the paper broadens into a defence of the thesis that concepts are a linguistic epiphenomenon: talk about them emerges as the result of certain contingently available and pleonastic ways (...)
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  4. Daniel Workman Barwick (1997). On the Nature of Concepts: An Essay in Metaphysics. Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
    This dissertation proposes an original theory of concepts. Under this theory, concepts are not understood as independent entities, but as the activity of judging that something is the same as or different from something else. This judgment may be intentional or nonintentional. I consider theories of concepts that have been proposed throughout the history of philosophy, and I reject them. I further claim that nonconceptual awareness is impossible.
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  5. George Bealer (1995). Concept. In Jaegwon Kim & Ernest Sosa (eds.), A Companion to Metaphysics. Basil Blackwell 89-90.
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  6. Jacob Beck (forthcoming). Sense, Mentalese, and Ontology. Protosociology.
    Modes of presentation are often posited to accommodate Frege’s puzzle. Philosophers differ, however, in whether they follow Frege in identifying modes of presentation with Fregean senses, or instead take them to be formally individuated symbols of “Mentalese”. Building on Fodor, Margolis and Laurence defend the latter view by arguing that the mind-independence of Fregean senses renders them ontologically suspect in a way that Mentalese symbols are not. This paper shows how Fregeans can withstand this objection. Along the way, a clearer (...)
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  7. Robert Briscoe (2014). Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [REVIEW] Mind 123 (491):902-096.
  8. Dennis Earl (2006). Concepts and Properties. Metaphysica 7 (1):67-85.
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  9. David Hommen & Tanja Osswald (2016). Knowledge Structures and the Nature of Concepts. In David Hommen, Christoph Kann & Tanja Osswald (eds.), Concepts and Categorization. Systematic and Historical Perspectives. Mentis
    It has become commonplace in the theory of concepts to distinguish between questions about the structure and questions about the ontology of concepts. Structural questions concern the way concepts are composed of, or otherwise related to, other concepts (or non-conceptual constituents), while ontological questions concern the metaphysical nature of concepts: how concepts exist (if they exist); what kind of entities they are. A tacit assumption in discussions about the structure and ontology of concepts seems to be that structural and ontological (...)
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  10. Łukasz Kosowski (2010). Noema and Thinkability : An Essay on Husserl's Theory of Intentionality. Ontos Verlag.
    The years of study on Husserl’s theory of intentionality have led to a number of non-equivalent interpretations. The present work attempts to investigate the most prominent of these by presenting both their advantages and difficulties. However, its key point is specifically the analysis of Husserl’s theory. This is made in several stages that are concerned with the relation between noesis and noema: whether it is one-to-one or many-to-one, the kind of transcendency and dependency between them, and whether noema supervenes on (...)
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  11. Elisabetta Lalumera (2010). Concepts Are a Functional Kind. Comment on Machery's Doing Without Concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):217-18.
    This commentary focuses on Machery's eliminativist claim, that ought to be eliminated from the theoretical vocabulary of psychology because it fails to denote a natural kind. I argue for the more traditional view that concepts are a functional kind, which provides the simplest account of the empirical evidence discussed by Machery.
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  12. Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence, Concepts. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This entry provides an overview of theories of concepts that is organized around five philosophical issues: (1) the ontology of concepts, (2) the structure of concepts, (3) empiricism and nativism about concepts, (4) concepts and natural language, and (5) concepts and conceptual analysis.
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  13. Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (2007). The Ontology of Concepts: Abstract Objects or Mental Representations? Noûs 41 (4):561-593.
    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. (...)
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  14. María G. Navarro (1999). Review of 'Historia y hermenéutica' by José Luis Villacañas and Faustino Oncina. [REVIEW] Logos: Anales Del Seminario de Metafísica:249-251.
    La publicación de Historia y hermenéutica representa, temática y estructuralmente, una nueva invitación al diálogo. Con ocasión del octogésimo cumpleaños de Hans-George Gadamer, el metodólogo de la historia Reinhart Koselleck ofreció la conferencia 'Histórica y hermenéutica' el horizonte de la pregunta que encierra la conferencia fue abierto por Gadamer con su tentativa de respuesta 'Histórica y lenguaje'. Con todo, la descripción de un libro que invita a una lectura estructuralmente dialogal es incompleta si no se muestra, al menos sintetizadamente, el (...)
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  15. Andrea Onofri (2016). Two Constraints on a Theory of Concepts. Dialectica 70 (1):3-27.
    Two general principles have played a crucial role in the recent debate on concepts. On the one hand, we want to allow different subjects to have the same concepts, thus accounting for concept publicity: concepts are ‘the sort of thing that people can, and do, share’. On the other hand, a subject who finds herself in a so-called ‘Frege case’ appears to have different concepts for the same object: for instance, Lois Lane has two distinct (...) SUPERMAN and CLARK KENT which refer to the same person. Several theories have tried to meet both of these constraints at the same time. But should we really try to satisfy both principles? This paper will argue that the traditional project of fulfilling these two constraints has been a misguided one. Through a variation on classic identity mistake cases, I will show that our two desiderata are inconsistent: it would thus be impossible to incorporate both of them in our best theory of concepts. (shrink)
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  16. Christopher Peacocke (1991). The Metaphysics of Concepts. Mind 100 (399):525-46.
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  17. David Pereplyotchik (2011). Why Believe in Demonstrative Concepts? Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):636-638.
    I examine two arguments for the existence of demonstrative concepts—one due to Chuard (2006) and another due to Brewer (1999). I point out some important difficulties in each. I hope to show that much more work must be done to legitimize positing demonstrative concepts.
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  18. Pierre Poirier & Guillaume Beaulac (2011). Le véritable retour des définitions. Dialogue 50 (1):153-164.
    In our critical review of Doing without Concepts, we argue that although the heterogeneity hypothesis (according to which exemplars, prototypes and theories are natural kinds that should replace ‘concept’) may end fruitless debates in the psychology of concepts, Edouard Machery did not anticipate one consequence of his suggestion: Definitions now acquire a new status as another one of the bodies of information replacing ‘concept’. In order to support our hypothesis, we invoke dual-process models to suggest that prototypes, exemplars and theories (...)
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  19. Eva Schmidt (2015). Content, Concepts, Concept Possession. In Modest Nonconceptualism. Springer International Publishing
    In this chapter, I clarify the notions of mental content and of concept. I present competing views on these notions and indicate my own position. I introduce content in terms of correctness conditions and distinguish several kinds of propositions, as well as non-propositional scenario content, with which perceptual content might be identified. I relate this discussion to a wide-spread commitment in philosophy of perception to respect the subject’s perceptual perspective in ascriptions of perceptual content. Then I compare views of concepts (...)
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  20. Edward E. Smith (1989). Three Distinctions About Concepts and Categorization. Mind and Language 4 (1-2):57-61.
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  21. Edward E. Smith & L. Douglas (1981). Categories and Concepts. Harvard University Press.
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  22. Robert Sokolowski (1987). Exorcising Concepts. Review of Metaphysics 40 (March):451-463.
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  23. Ernest Sosa (1993). Abilities, Concepts, and Externalism. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press
  24. John Sutton (2004). Are Concepts Mental Representations or Abstracta? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):89-108.
    I argue that thoughts and concepts are mental representations rather than abstracta. I propose that the most important difference between the two views is that the mentalist believes that there are concept and thought tokens as well as types; this reveals that the dispute is not terminological but ontological. I proceed to offer an argument for mentalism. The key step is to establish that concepts and thoughts have lexical as well as semantic properties. I then show that this entails that (...)
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  25. Mark Wilson (2006). Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    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, (...)
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  26. Edward N. Zalta (2001). Fregean Senses, Modes of Presentation, and Concepts. Philosophical Perspectives 15 (s15):335-359.
    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.
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  27. Edward N. Zalta (2000). A (Leibnizian) Theory of Concepts. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 3:137-183.
    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. (...)
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