A common structure for concepts of individuals, stuffs, and kinds: More mama, more milk, and more mouse
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):55-65 (1997)
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
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Ruth G. Millikan (1996). On Swampkinds. Mind and Language 11 (1):103-17.
Avner Baz (2015). On Going Nowhere with Our Words: New Skepticism About the Philosophical Method of Cases. Philosophical Psychology 29 (1):64-83.
Similar books and articles
Niko Scharer (1998). Can Mere Phonemes Be Components of Millikan's Substance Concepts? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):83-84.
Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis (1999). Concepts and Cognitive Science. In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT 3-81.
Carol Slater (1998). More Me? Substance Concepts and Self Concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):85-85.
Kent Johnson (2004). From Impossible Words to Conceptual Structure: The Role of Structure and Processes in the Lexicon. Mind and Language 19 (3):334-358.
Lloyd K. Komatsu (1998). Mapping Millikan's Conceptual Work Onto (Empirical) Work by Psychologists. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):76-77.
Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence, Concepts. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Jürgen Schröder (1998). Explanatory Force, Antidescriptionism, and the Common Structure of Substance Concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):84-85.
Ruth Garrett Millikan (1998). Words, Concepts, and Entities: With Enemies Like These, I Don't Need Friends. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):89-100.
Paul Bloom (1998). Different Structures for Concepts of Individuals, Stuffs, and Real Kinds: One Mama, More Milk, and Many Mice. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):66-67.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads85 ( #48,785 of 1,796,251 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #468,795 of 1,796,251 )
How can I increase my downloads?