The so-called ‘‘species problem’’ has plagued evolution- ary biology since before Darwin’s publication of the aptly titled Origin of Species. Many biologists think the problem is just a matter of semantics; others complain that it will not be solved until we have more empirical data. Yet, we don’t seem to be able to escape discussing it and teaching seminars about it. In this paper, I briefly examine the main themes of the biological and philosophical liter- atures on the species problem, (...) focusing on identifying common threads as well as relevant differences. I then argue two fundamental points. First, the species problem is not primarily an empirical one, but it is rather fraught with philosophical questions that require—but cannot be settled by—empirical evidence. Second, the (dis-)solution lies in explicitly adopting Wittgenstein’s idea of ‘‘familyresemblance’’ or cluster concepts, and to consider spe- cies as an example of such concepts. This solution has several attractive features, including bringing together apparently diverging themes of discussion among bio- logists and philosophers. The current proposal is con- ceptually independent (though not incompatible) with the pluralist approach to the species problem advocated by Mishler, Donoghue, Kitcher and Dupre ́, which implies that distinct aspects of the species question need to be emphasized depending on the goals of the researcher. From the biological literature, the concept of species that most closely matches the philosophical discussion pre- sented here is Templeton’s cohesion idea. (shrink)
The introduction of the notion of familyresemblance represented a major shift in Wittgenstein’s thoughts on the meaning of words, moving away from a belief that words were well defined, to a view that words denoted less well defined categories of meaning. This paper presents the use of the notion of familyresemblance in the area of machine learning as an example of the benefits that can accrue from adopting the kind of paradigm shift taken by (...) Wittgenstein. The paper presents a model capable of learning exemplars using the principle of familyresemblance and adopting Bayesian networks for a representation of exemplars. An empirical evaluation is presented on three data sets and shows promising results that suggest that previous assumptions about the way we categories need reopening. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that mental disorder is a valid concept only in so far as it is an extension of or continuous with the concept of physical disorder. A valid extension has to meet two criteria: determination and coherence. Essentialists meet these criteria through necessary and sufficient conditions for being a disorder. Two Wittgensteinian alternatives to essentialism are considered and assessed against the two criteria. These are the familyresemblance approach and the secondary sense approach. Where the (...) focus is solely on the characteristics or attributes of things, both these approaches seem to fail to meet the criteria for valid extension. However, this focus on attributes is mistaken. The criteria for valid extension are met in the case of familyresemblance by the pattern of characteristics associated with a concept, and by the limits of intelligibility of applying a concept. Secondary sense, though it may have some claims to be a good account of the relation between physical and mental disorder, cannot claim to meet the two criteria of valid extension. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's remarks about familyresemblance in the Philosophical Investigations should not be construed as implying a comprehensive theory of universals. They possess, rather, a defensive function in his exposition. The remarks allow one, nevertheless, to draw certain general conclusions about how Wittgenstein thought about concepts. Reflection on the notion of familyresemblance reveals that kinship and similarity considerations intersect in it in a problematic fashion.
It is a commonly raised argument against thefamily resemblance account of concepts that, on thisaccount, there is no limit to a concept's extension.An account of familyresemblance which attempts toprovide a solution to this problem by including bothsimilarity among instances and dissimilarity tonon-instances has been developed by the philosopher ofscience Thomas Kuhn. Similar solutions have beenhinted at in the literature on family resemblanceconcepts, but the solution has never received adetailed investigation. I shall provide areconstruction of Kuhn's (...) theory and argue that hissolution necessitates a developmental perspective withbuilds on both the transmission of taxonomies betweengenerations and a progressive development throughhistory. (shrink)
Although there is universal consensus both in the science education literature and in the science standards documents to the effect that students should learn not only the content of science but also its nature, there is little agreement about what that nature is. This led many science educators to adopt what is sometimes called “the consensus view” about the nature of science (NOS), whose goal is to teach students only those characteristics of science on which there is wide consensus. This (...) is an attractive view, but it has some shortcomings and weaknesses. In this article we present and defend an alternative approach based on the notion of familyresemblance. We argue that the familyresemblance approach is superior to the consensus view in several ways, which we discuss in some detail. (shrink)
I develop in this paper a conception of artefacts based on L. Wittgenstein’s idea of familyresemblance. My approach peruses the notion of frame, which was invented in cognitive psychology as an operationisable extension of this philosophical idea. Following the metaphor of life-cycle I show how this schematic notion of frame may be filled with the content relevant for artefacts if we consider them from the point of view of their histories. The resulting conception of artefacts provides a (...) new insight into the current debate on artefact categorisation. (shrink)
A critique of attempts by Charles Travis and others to read contextualism back into Philosophical Investigations. The central interpretive claim is that this reading is not only unsupported; it gets Wittgenstein's intent, in the parts of the text at issue, precisely backwards. The focus of the chapter is on Wittgenstein's treatment of explanation, understanding, proper names, and family-resemblance concepts.
This article reviews the various ways in which the later writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein have been employed to address the question “What is Art?”. These include the familyresemblance model, the cluster concept model and the form of life model. The article defends a version of the form of life approach. Also, addressed the charge that it would have been more profitable had aestheticians explored what Wittgenstein actually said about art instead of trying to extrapolate from his writings (...) an approach to what Nigel Warburton calls the art question. (shrink)
Twenty-five years after the term "therapeutic misconception’ (TM) first entered the literature, most commentators agree that it remains widespread. However, the majority of scholarly attention has focused on the reasons why a patient cum human subject might confuse the goals of research with the goals of therapy. Although this paper addresses the social and cultural factors that seem to animate the TM among subjects, it also fills a niche in the literature by examining why investigators too might operate under a (...) similar confusion. In framing these issues, the paper expressly adopts a Wittgensteinian approach to evaluating the TM, suggesting that interlocutors do not need any analytic definition of the TM to use the term meaningfully in thinking about the moral implications of the TM in practice. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Thomas S. Kuhn's work on taxonomic concepts and how it relates to empirical work from the cognitive sciences on categorization and conceptual development. I shall first review the basic features of Kuhn's familyresemblance account and compare to work from the cognitive sciences. I shall then show how Kuhn's account can be extended to cover the development of new taxonomies in science, and I shall illustrate by a detailed case study that Kuhn himself mentioned (...) only briefly in his own work, namely the discovery of X-rays and radioactivity. (shrink)
This paper focuses on recent debates over the nature ofliberalism and its central feature of reason, both inside and outside ofeducational philosophy. Central ideas from Jonathan and Hirst contributeas do those from Rawls, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, Taylor, and Ackermantoward a less traditional contextualized and contingent view.
In the dialectic of debates about the extension of life, one witnesses a predictably repeating pattern: one side appeals to a motley of variegated criteria for something’s qualifying as a living system, only to find an opposite side taking issue with the individual necessity or collective sufficiency of the proposed criteria. Some of these criteria tend to cluster with one another, while others do not: metabolism, growth and reproduction; self-organization and homeostasis; an ability to decrease internal entropy by the appropriation (...) of free energy; stimulus response suited to self-preservation and propagation; and adaptation. In competing approaches to the extension of life, these sundry criteria thus jockey for authority, with one group of theorists promoting some subset of them as essential for life, where the appeal to essence is as likely as not to be a simple modal sine qua non , and another denying that the nominated criteria are really necessary at all. The debate then stalls, because there seems to be no shared methodology for adjudicating such disputes. We may address this unhappy situation successfully by coming to appreciate that life is what we may call a core-dependent homonym. (shrink)
In his seminal work Moral Notions , Julius Kovesi presents a novel account of concept formation. At the heart of this account is a distinction between what he terms the material element and the formal element of concepts. This paper elucidates his distinction in detail and contrasts it with other distinctions such as form-matter, universal-particular, genus-difference, necessary-sufficient, and open texture-closed texture. We situate Kovesi’s distinction within his general philosophical method, outlining his views on concept formation in general and explain how (...) his theory of concept formation is applied in moral philosophy. (shrink)
In §66 ofPhilosophical Investigations Wittgenstein looks for something common to various games and finds only an interconnecting network of resemblances. These are family resemblances. Sympathetic as well as unsympathetic readers have interpreted him as claiming that games form a family in virtue of these resemblances. This assumes Wittgenstein inverted the relation between being a member of a family and bearing family resemblances to others of that family. (The Churchills bear family resemblances to one another (...) because they belong to the same family, they don't belong to the same family because they resemble one another.) A close reading ofInvestigations gives no evidence that Wittgenstein made this mistake. Rather, family resemblances may play a role like the one criteria play for psychological terms. They give excellent but fallible evidence for membership in the extensions of some terms. (shrink)
Kaufman describes the current debate on the possibility of a definition of art between the theorists and the anti-theorist Wittgensteinians. The Wittgensteinian reliance on ‘family resemblances’ is a serious objection to theoretical definitions. Wittgenstein, however, is said to be unable to give a proper account of the ‘inner experience’ encountered in art. By way of response, it is urged that attention to Wittgenstein himself will show that there are misunderstandings of the idea of family resemblances and that Wittgenstein's (...) writings provide all we need to understand the depth of ‘inner experience’. (shrink)
Many discussions between realists and non-realists have centered on the issue of reference, especially whether there is referential stability during theory change. In this paper, I shall summarize the debate, sketching the problems that remain within the two opposing positions, and show that both have ended on their own slippery slope, sliding away from their original position toward that of their opponents. In the search for a viable intermediate position, I shall then suggest an account of reference which, to a (...) degree, follows the causal theory in explaining reference as carving the world at its joints. Contrary to the causal theory, however, I submit that this world is a phenomenal world whose variable joints exist only in a historical process in which they are transmitted gradually from one generation to the next. According to this account, the joints of the phenomenal world are constituted by familyresemblance, where bundles of features that span bounded areas in perceptual space underlie the joints. Furthermore, the integrity of the cognitive process by which these joints are recognized depends on a transmission process by which new generations are presented with given joints and bundles by the preceding generation. Contrary to a traditional realist account, this heritage from the preceding generation may be transformed into new joints and bundles before transmission to new generations. This permits a continuous process of referential change in which the joints and bundles at different stages in the development of a theory can be connected by chains-of-reasoning. (shrink)
The project of neuroaesthetics could be interpreted as an attempt to identify a ?neural essence? of art, i.e., a set of necessary and sufficient conditions formulated in the language of neuroscience, which define the concept art . Some proposals developed within this field can be read in this way. I shall argue that such attempts do not succeed in individuating a neural definition of art. Of course, the fact that the proposals available for defining art in neural terms do not (...) work does not mean that such an enterprise is in principle doomed to failure. However, I maintain that there are good reasons to suspect that in general such a definition cannot be worked out. This does not mean, though, that the study of neural correlates in artwork production and fruition is a senseless project. Neuroaesthetics could succeed in individuating widespread mechanisms common to different forms of art coming from remote cultural contexts, which presumably rely on aspects of our mind and/or brain's functioning that are innate and biologically determined, thus contrasting the idea that artistic phenomena are entirely dependent on cultural factors. (shrink)
Peter Kivy has maintained that the Wittgensteinian account of ‘art’ ‘is not a going concern’ and that ‘the traditional task of defining the work of art is back in fashion, with a vengeance’. This is true, in large part, because of the turn towards relational definitions of ‘art’ taken by philosophers in the 1960s; a move that is widely believed to have countered the Wittgensteinian charge that ‘art’ is an open concept and which gave rise to a ‘New Wave’ in (...) aesthetic theorizing. So successful has this New Wave been that today the philosophy of art is awash with relational definitions, which are increasingly characterized by their technical sophistication and logical complexity. The aim of this essay is to oppose this trend; to demonstrate that relationalist definitions cannot avoid the problems which provided the impetus for the Wittgensteinian view and to show that the New Wavers cannot explain why anyone would want the definitions which they are offering, irrespective of their success or failure. I will also explore, in detail, the uses, as well as the limitations, of the Wittgensteinian approach to the concept of art. (shrink)