David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):269-277 (2010)
As the title “Doing without Concepts” suggests Edouard Machery argues that psychologists should stop using the notion of concept because: (1) the only interesting generalizations about concepts can be drawn at the level of types of concepts (prototypes, exemplars and theories) and not the level of concept in general; and (2) competences such as categorization or induction can rely on these different types of concepts (there is not a one to one correspondence between type of concept and competence). I try to make the point that these two elements are not wholly compatible. If several types of concepts are used to perform a given competence (point (2)), then they have to be well regulated (e.g. which type is activated when, which type wins in case of conflict). These regulatory mechanisms can then be the basis for interesting generalizations (against point (1)). On the other hand, it is possible that point (1) applies to competences as well: that there are no interesting generalizations to be drawn about categorization in general. In which case different types of categorization are likely to be underlain by different types of concepts (against point (2)). Even though the arguments laid out in the book are forceful and well supported by empirical evidence, a more positive thesis might have been both more successful rhetorically and more interesting scientifically.
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Carruthers (2006). The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gerd Gigerenzer (1999). Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. Oxford University Press.
Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols & Stephen P. Stich (2004). Semantics, Cross-Cultural Style. Cognition 92 (3):1-12.
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Citations of this work BETA
Edouard Machery (2010). The Heterogeneity of Knowledge Representation and the Elimination of Concept. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):231-244.
Édouard Machery (2011). Replies to Lombrozo, Piccinini, and Poirier and Beaulac. Dialogue 50 (1):195-212.
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