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Summary Concepts may be individuated in one of two ways: by the ways they are related to other concepts, or by features besides their relations to other concepts. Conceptual atomists claim that concepts are individuated without essential reference to any other concepts. So what makes something the concept CAT has nothing to do with its causal, functional, or inferential role relative to other concepts such as ANIMAL, FURRY, or HAS A TAIL. Instead, concepts are individuated by their relationships to things in the world. These may include such things as what they refer to, or what objects and properties they carry information about.
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  1. Concepts and cognitive structures.Kevan Edwards - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    The broad topic of this paper is the relationship between the theoretical notion of a concept and familiar types of cognitive structures (prototypes, exemplars, causal models, etc.) The discussion is organized around different ways that theorists about concepts can attempt to accommodate what has been dubbed the Heterogeneity Hypothesis (roughly: the claim that various types of structures with which concepts have been identified co-exist and form a heterogeneous class). The most general goal of the paper is to clarify the dialectical (...)
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  2. The Information-Processing Perspective on Categorization.Manolo Martínez - forthcoming - Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal.
    Categorization behavior can be fruitfully analyzed in terms of the trade-off between as high as possible faithfulness in the transmission of information about samples of the classes to be categorized, and as low as possible transmission costs for that same information. The kinds of categorization behaviors we associate with conceptual atoms, prototypes, and exemplars emerge naturally as a result of this trade-off, in the presence of certain natural constraints on the probabilistic distribution of samples, and the ways in which we (...)
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  3. Atomic event concepts in perception, action and belief.Lucas Thorpe - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (1):110-127.
    Event concepts are unstructured atomic concepts that apply to event types. A paradigm example of such an event type would be that of diaper changing, and so a putative example of an atomic event concept would be DADDY'S-CHANGING-MY-DIAPER.1 I will defend two claims about such concepts. First, the conceptual claim that it is in principle possible to possess a concept such as DADDY'S-CHANGING-MY-DIAPER without possessing the concept DIAPER. Second, the empirical claim that we actually possess such concepts and that they (...)
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  4. Belief Fragments and Mental Files.Michael Murez - 2021 - In Andrea Onofri, Cristina Borgoni & Dirk Kindermann (eds.), The Fragmented Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 251-278.
    Belief fragments and mental files are based on the same idea: that information in people’s minds is compartmentalized rather than lumped all together. Philosophers mostly use the two notions differently, though the exact relationship between fragments and files has yet to be examined in detail. This chapter has three main goals. The first is to argue that fragments and files, properly understood, play distinct yet complementary explanatory roles; the second is to defend a model of belief that includes them both; (...)
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  5. The Metaphysics of Mental Files.Simon Prosser - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):657-676.
    There is much to be said for a diachronic or interpersonal individuation of singular modes of presentation (MOPs) in terms of a criterion of epistemic transparency between thought tokens. This way of individuating MOPs has been discussed recently within the mental files framework, though the issues discussed here arise for all theories that individuate MOPs in terms of relations among tokens. All such theories face objections concerning apparent failures of the transitivity of the ‘same MOP’ relation. For mental files, these (...)
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  6. Shared modes of presentation.Simon Prosser - 2018 - Mind and Language 34 (4):465-482.
    What is it for two people to think of an object, natural kind or other entity under the same mode of presentation (MOP)? This has seemed a particularly difficult question for advocates of the Mental Files approach, the Language of Thought, or other ‘atomistic’ theories. In this paper I propose a simple answer. I first argue that, by parallel with the synchronic intrapersonal case, the sharing of a MOP should involve a certain kind of epistemic transparency between the token thoughts (...)
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  7. Prototypes as compositional components of concepts.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2899–2927.
    The aim of this paper is to reconcile two claims that have long been thought to be incompatible: that we compositionally determine the meaning of complex expressions from the meaning of their parts, and that prototypes are components of the meaning of lexical terms such as fish, red, and gun. Hypotheses and are independently plausible, but most researchers think that reconciling them is a difficult, if not hopeless task. In particular, most linguists and philosophers agree that is not negotiable; so (...)
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  8. Two Constraints on a Theory of Concepts.Andrea Onofri - 2016 - 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 concepts SUPERMAN and CLARK KENT (...)
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  9. Critical Notice of Seven Puzzles of Thought and How to Solve Them: An Originalist Theory of Concepts, by R. M. Sainsbury and Michael Tye. [REVIEW]Paul Horwich - 2014 - Mind 123 (492):1123-1139.
  10. Why Concepts Should Not Be Pluralized or Eliminated.Jack M. C. Kwong - 2014 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):7-23.
    Concept Pluralism and Concept Eliminativism are two positions recently proposed in the philosophy and the psychology of concepts. Both of these theories are motivated by the view that all current theories of concepts are empirically and methodologically inadequate and hold in common the assumption that for any category that can be represented in thought, a person can possess multiple, distinct concepts of it. In this paper, I will challenge these in light of a third theory, Conceptual Atomism, which addresses and (...)
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  11. Keeping (Direct) Reference in Mind.Kevan Edwards - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):342-367.
    This paper explores the psychological analogues of a cluster of arguments that have played an important role in motivating a now widespread, reference-based approach in philosophy of language. What I will call the psychological analogues of Kripke-style arguments provide a substantial motivation for a reference-based approach to concepts. Insofar as such an approach is rarely given serious consideration, the availability of these arguments suggests the need for a rethinking of some foundational assumptions in philosophy of mind and other branches of (...)
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  12. Conceptual Atomism, Externalism, and the Gradient Applicability of Concepts.John Spackman - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:419-441.
    The most prominent recent model of how concepts can have gradient applicability—that is, apply more fully to some items than to others—is that supplied by the prototype theory. Such a model, however, assumes concepts to be internally individuated and structured, and it might thus be challenged by both concept externalism and conceptual atomism. This paper argues that neither of these challenges presents an obstacle to viewing some concepts as having gradient application, and develops a different model of the conditions for (...)
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  13. Higher-Level concepts and their heterogeneous implementations: A polemical review of Edouard Machery's Doing Without Concepts.Kevan Edwards - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (1):119-133.
    This paper offers a critical review of Edouard Machery's Doing Without Concepts, with a particular emphasis on an approach to concept individuation that is consistent with many of Machery's arguments but has the potential to avoid his eliminativist conclusion. The approach agrees with Machery's claims to the effect that prototypes, exemplars, theories (and so on) form a heterogeneous class, but construes these theoretical entities as implementing a unified, albeit coarse-grained, notion of a concept.
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  14. Concept referentialism and the role of empty concepts.Kevan Edwards - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (1):89-118.
    This paper defends a reference-based approach to concept individuation against the objection that such an approach is unable to make sense of concepts that fail to refer. The main line of thought pursued involves clarifying how the referentialist should construe the relationship between a concept's (referential) content and its role in mental processes. While the central goal of the paper is to defend a view aptly titled Concept Referentialism , broader morals are drawn regarding reference-based approaches in general. The paper (...)
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  15. Atomism and Atelic Conceptualization.Fabrice Bothereau - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (9):221-28.
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  16. What concepts do.Kevan Edwards - 2009 - Synthese 170 (2):289 - 310.
    This paper identifies and criticizes a line of reasoning that has played a substantial role in the widespread rejection of the view that Fodor has dubbed “Concept Atomism”. The line of reasoning is not only fallacious, but its application in the present case rests on a misconception about the explanatory potential of Concept Atomism. This diagnosis suggests the possibility of a new polemical strategy in support of Concept Atomism. The new strategy is more comprehensive than that which defenders of the (...)
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  17. Why Fodor’s Theory of Concepts Fails.Jussi Jylkkä - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (1):25-46.
    Fodor’s theory of concepts holds that the psychological capacities, beliefs or intentions which determine how we use concepts do not determine reference. Instead, causal relations of a specific kind between properties and our dispositions to token a concept are claimed to do so. Fodor does admit that there needs to be some psychological mechanisms mediating the property–concept tokening relations, but argues that they are purely accidental for reference. In contrast, I argue that the actual mechanisms that sustain the reference determining (...)
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  18. Concept Cartesianism, Concept Pragmatism, and Frege Cases.Bradley Rives - 2009 - 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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  19. The Empirical Case Against Analyticity: Two Options for Concept Pragmatists.Bradley Rives - 2009 - 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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  20. Atomism, pluralism, and conceptual content.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2009 - 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 concepts 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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  21. Conceptual Atomism and Justificationist Semantics.Manuel Bremer - 2008 - Lang.
    Conceptual atomism of this type is incompatible with many other semantic approaches. One of these approaches is justificationist semantics. This book assumes conceptual atomism.
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  22. Concepts and Reference: Defending a Dual Theory of Natural Kind Concepts.Jussi Jylkkä - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Turku
    In this thesis I argue that the psychological study of concepts and categorisation, and the philosophical study of reference are deeply intertwined. I propose that semantic intuitions are a variety of categorisation judgements, determined by concepts, and that because of this, concepts determine reference. I defend a dual theory of natural kind concepts, according to which natural kind concepts have distinct semantic cores and non-semantic identification procedures. Drawing on psychological essentialism, I suggest that the cores consist of externalistic placeholder essence (...)
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  23. Why Fodor’s Theory of Concepts Fails.Jussi Jylkkä - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:97-104.
    Fodor’s theory of concepts holds that the psychological mechanisms which guide us in applying concepts to objects do not determine reference; instead, causal relations of a specific kind between properties and our dispositions to token a concept are claimed to do so. Fodor does admit that there needs to be some psychological mechanism mediating the property – concept tokening relations, but argues that it is purely accidental for reference. In contrast, I argue that the actual mechanisms that sustain the reference (...)
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  24. Concetti: capacità o rappresentazioni?E. Lalumera - 2008 - Epistemologia 31 (1):75-96.
  25. Is conceptual atomism a plausible theory of concepts?Jack M. C. Kwong - 2007 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):413-434.
    Conceptual atomism is the view according to which most lexical concepts lack ‘internal’ or constituent structure. To date, it has not received much attention from philosophers and psychologists. A centralreason is that it is thought to be an implausible theory of concepts, resulting in untenable implications. The main objective of this paper is to present conceptual atomism as a viable alternative, with a view toachieving two aims: the first, to characterize and to elucidate conceptual atomism; and the second, to dispel (...)
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  26. An Evolutionary Solution to the Radical Concept Nativism Puzzle.Clarke Murray - 2007 - Adaptation and Representation Virtual Conference.
    I argue for an evolutionary solution to Fodor's radical concept nativism puzzle.
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  27. Spencerism and the causal theory of reference.W. Hinzen - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):71-94.
    Spencer’s heritage, while almost a forgotten chapter in the history of biology, lives on in psychology and the philosophy of mind. I particularly discuss externalist views of meaning, on which meaning crucially depends on a notion of reference, and ask whether reference should be thought of as cause or effect. Is the meaning of a word explained by what it refers to, or should we say that what we use a word to refer to is explained by what concept it (...)
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  28. Appropriating A Priori.Juraj Hvorecký - 2006 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):113-120.
    The paper criticizes the novel approach of Miščević to apriority and analyticity. In a nutshell, it aims to show that Miščević has failed to appreciate the power and impact of semantic atomism in the theory of concepts. He simply assurnes a clean distinction between concept-analyzing propositions and those that do not analyze concepts, misconstrue the way atomists understand concept-analyzing propositions, namely epistemically and not semantically, and fails to provide an answer to atomistic considerations. Finally, I analyze his examples of alleged (...)
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  29. Unconscious Conceiving and Leibniz's Argument for Primitive Concepts.Paul Lodge & Stephen Puryear - 2006 - Studia Leibnitiana 38 (2):177-196.
    In a recent paper, Dennis Plaisted examines an important argument that Leibniz gives for the existence of primitive concepts. After sketching a natural reading of this argument, Plaisted observes that the argument appears to imply something clearly inconsistent with Leibniz’s other views. To save Leibniz from contradiction, Plaisted offers a revision. However, his account faces a number of serious difficulties and therefore does not successfully eliminate the inconsistency. We explain these difficulties and defend a more plausible alternative. In the process, (...)
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  30. Having concepts: A brief refutation of the twentieth century.Jerry Fodor - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (1):29-47.
    A certain ‘pragmatist’ view of concept possession has defined the mainstream of Anglophone philosophy of language/mind for decades: namely, that to have the concept C is to be able to distinguish Cs from non‐Cs, and/or to recognize the validity of certain C‐involving inferences. The present paper offers three arguments why no such account could be viable. An alternative ‘Cartesian’ view is outlined, according to which having C is being able to think about Cs ‘as such’. Some consequences of the proposed (...)
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  31. Fodor's ingratitude and change of heart?Georges Rey - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (1):70-84.
    One would have thought that Fodor's justly famous computational views about the mind and his covariation approaches to content owed a lot to the twentieth century that he now reviles. On the other hand, a number of lines he pursues in the target article make one wonder whether he hasn’t perhaps changed his mind about those famous views. Specifically, I argue that his own theory of content is open to the very same objections he raises against ‘sorting’ theories, and that (...)
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  32. Remarks on Fodor on having concepts.Daniel A. Weiskopf & William Bechtel - 2004 - 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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  33. Hume Variations.Jerry A. Fodor - 2003 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
    Hume? Yes, David Hume, that's who Jerry Fodor looks to for help in advancing our understanding of the mind. Fodor claims his Treatise of Human Nature as the foundational document of cognitive science: it launched the project of constructing an empirical psychology on the basis of a representational theory of mind. Going back to this work after more than 250 years we find that Hume is remarkably perceptive about the components and structure that a theory of mind requires. Careful study (...)
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  34. On Clear and Confused Ideas. [REVIEW]Timothy Schroeder - 2003 - Dialogue 42 (1):148-149.
    Here is an apparently straightforward philosophical story about concepts. In the style of Jerry Fodor, a concept is a mental “word” ; it means what it does because of its causal dependencies, and it contributes this meaning to the meanings of the mental “sentences” it helps to form. The mental word OWL means owls because owls have a special causal relationship to OWLs, and when the mental word OWL is combined with other mental words, such as THERE, IS, AN and (...)
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  35. Radical concept nativism.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2002 - Cognition 86 (1):25-55.
    Radical concept nativism is the thesis that virtually all lexical concepts are innate. Notoriously endorsed by Jerry Fodor (1975, 1981), radical concept nativism has had few supporters. However, it has proven difficult to say exactly what’s wrong with Fodor’s argument. We show that previous responses are inadequate on a number of grounds. Chief among these is that they typically do not achieve sufficient distance from Fodor’s dialectic, and, as a result, they do not illuminate the central question of how new (...)
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  36. Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis.Jesse J. Prinz - 2002 - MIT Press.
  37. The Fodorian fallacy.François Recanati - 2002 - Analysis 62 (4):285-89.
    In recent years Fodor has repeatedly argued that nothing epistemic can be essential to, or constitutive of, any concept. This holds in virtue of a constraint which Fodor dubs the Compositionality Constraint. I show that Fodor's argument is fallacious because it rests on an ambiguity.
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  38. Getting Clear about Equivocal Concepts. [REVIEW]Nicholas Shea - 2002 - Disputatio 1 (13):1 - 14.
    Just how far can externalism go? In this exciting new book Ruth Millikan explores a radically externalist treatment of empirical concepts (Millikan 2000). For the last thirty years philosophy of mind’s ties to meaning internalism have been loosened. The theory of content has swung uncomfortably on its moorings in a fickle current, straining against opposing ties to mind and world. In this book Millikan casts conceptual content adrift from the thinker: what determines the content of a concept is not cognitively (...)
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  39. On the Content of Natural Kind Concepts.Max Kistler - 2001 - Acta Analytica 16:55-79.
    The search for a nomological account of what determines the content of concepts as they are represented in cognitive systems, is an important part of the general project of explaining intentional phenomena in naturalistic terms. I examine Fodor's "Theory of Content" and criticize his strategy of combining constraints in nomological terms with contraints in terms of actual causal relations. The paper focuses on the problem of the indeterminacy of the content of natural kind concepts. A concept like water can pick (...)
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  40. Flash! Fodor splits the atom.G. Vision - 2001 - Analysis 61 (1):5-10.
    Has Fodor demonstrated conceptual atomism?
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  41. Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong.Kent Bach - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (4):627.
    As the dust jacket proclaims, “this is surely Fodor’s most irritating book in years …. It should exasperate philosophers, linguists, cognitive psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists alike.” Yes, Fodor is an equal-opportunity annoyer. He sees no job for conceptual analysts, no hope for lexical semanticists, and no need for prototype theorists. When it comes to shedding light on concepts, these luminaries have delivered nothing but moonshine. Fodor aims to remedy things, and not just with snake oil. He serves up plenty of (...)
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  42. Review of Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong[REVIEW]Kent Bach - 2000 - Philosophical Review.
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  43. Replies to critics.Jerry A. Fodor - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):350-374.
  44. Concepts, the lexicon and acquisition: Fodor's new challenge.Barbara Landau - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):319-326.
  45. Introducing substance concepts.Ruth G. Millikan - 2000 - In On Clear and Confused Ideas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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  46. On Clear and Confused Ideas: An Essay About Substance Concepts.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 2000 - Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
    Written by one of today's most creative and innovative philosophers, Ruth Garrett Millikan, this book examines basic empirical concepts; how they are acquired, how they function, and how they have been misrepresented in the traditional philosophical literature. Millikan places cognitive psychology in an evolutionary context where human cognition is assumed to be an outgrowth of primitive forms of mentality, and assumed to have 'functions' in the biological sense. Of particular interest are her discussions of the nature of abilities as different (...)
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  47. Fodor on concepts: Philosophical aspects.Christopher Peacocke - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):327-340.
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  48. Review of Jerry A. Fodor's Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong[REVIEW]Robert J. Stainton & Christopher D. Viger - 2000 - Synthese 123 (1):131-151.
  49. Jerry A. Fodor, Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. [REVIEW]S. Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):487-491.
  50. Concepts and Cognitive Science.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press. pp. 3-81.
    Given the fundamental role that concepts play in theories of cognition, philosophers and cognitive scientists have a common interest in concepts. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of controversy regarding what kinds of things concepts are, how they are structured, and how they are acquired. This chapter offers a detailed high-level overview and critical evaluation of the main theories of concepts and their motivations. Taking into account the various challenges that each theory faces, the chapter also presents a novel approach (...)
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