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  1. Abstract Concepts, Compositionality, and the Contextualism-Invariantism Debate.Guido Löhr - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (6):689-710.
    Invariantists argue that the notion of concept in psychology should be reserved for knowledge that is retrieved in a context-insensitive manner. Contextualists argue that concepts are to be understood in terms of context-sensitive ad hoc constructions. I review the central empirical evidence for and against both views and show that their conclusions are based on a common mischaracterization of both theories. When the difference between contextualism and invariantism is properly understood, it becomes apparent that the way the question of stability (...)
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  • 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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  • Concepts, Introspection, and Phenomenal Consciousness: An Information-Theoretical Approach.Murat Aydede & Guven Guzeldere - 2005 - Noûs 39 (2):197-255.
    This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenal consciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a special informational character and semantic structure that closely (...)
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  • Placement, Grounding, and Mental Content.Kelly Trogdon - 2015 - In C. Daly (ed.), Palgrave Handbook on Philosophical Methods. New York, NY, USA: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 481-496.
    Grounding-theoretic reformulation of Fodor's theory of content that addresses recalcitrant Quinean concerns.
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  • Essentialism, Externalism, and Human Nature.M. J. Cain - 2012 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 70:29-51.
    Psychological essentialism is a prominent view within contemporary developmental psychology and cognitive science according to which children have an innate commitment to essentialism. If this view is correct then a commitment to essentialism is an important aspect of human nature rather than a culturally specific commitment peculiar to those who have received a specific philosophical or scientific education. In this article my concern is to explore the philosophical significance of psychological essentialism with respect to the relationship between the content of (...)
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  • Analogical Cognition: Applications in Epistemology and the Philosophy of Mind and Language.Theodore Bach - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (5):348-360.
    Analogical cognition refers to the ability to detect, process, and learn from relational similarities. The study of analogical and similarity cognition is widely considered one of the ‘success stories’ of cognitive science, exhibiting convergence across many disciplines on foundational questions. Given the centrality of analogy to mind and knowledge, it would benefit philosophers investigating topics in epistemology and the philosophies of mind and language to become familiar with empirical models of analogical cognition. The goal of this essay is to describe (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science.Nicholas Shea - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
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  • Universals in Semantics.Kai von Fintel & Lisa Matthewson - manuscript
    This article surveys the state of the art in the field of semantic universals. We examine potential semantic universals in three areas: (i) the lexicon, (ii) semantic “glue” (functional morphemes and composition principles), and (iii) pragmatics. At the level of the lexicon, we find remarkably few convincing semantic universals. At the level of functional morphemes and composition principles, we discuss a number of promising constraints, most of which require further empirical testing and/or refinement. In the realm of pragmatics, we predict (...)
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  • Learning, Concept Acquisition and Psychological Essentialism.M. J. Cain - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):577-598.
    In this article I will evaluate the popular view that we acquire most of our concepts by means of learning. I will do this through an examination of Jerry Fodor’s dissenting views and those of some of his most persistent and significant critics. Although I will be critical of Fodor’s central claim that it is impossible to learn a concept, I will ultimately conclude that we should be more sceptical than is normal about the power of learning when it comes (...)
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  • Concept Innateness, Concept Continuity, and Bootstrapping.Susan Carey - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):152.
    The commentators raised issues relevant to all three important theses of The Origin of Concepts (henceforth TOOC). Some questioned the very existence of innate representational primitives, and others questioned my claims about their richness and whether they should be thought of as concepts. Some questioned the existence of conceptual discontinuity in the course of knowledge acquisition and others argued that discontinuity is much more common than was portrayed in TOOC. Some raised issues with my characterization of Quinian bootstrapping, and others (...)
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  • Are Sensory Concepts Learned by “Abstraction” From Experience?Pär Sundström - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    In recent years, many philosophers and scientists have argued or accepted that it is impossible to learn primitive sensory concepts like “blue” and “red”. This paper defends a more qualified picture. I try to show that some received characterisations of “learning” are nonequivalent and point towards different learning-nonlearning distinctions. And, on some ways of specifying such a distinction, it might be correct that we do not and cannot “learn” a concept of blue. But on other ways of specifying such a (...)
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  • Futures for Philosophy of Education.Michael A. Peters - 2008 - Analysis and Metaphysics 7:14-26.
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  • On the Birth and Growth of Concepts.Jean M. Mandler - 2008 - Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):207 – 230.
    This article describes what the earliest concepts are like and presents a theory of the spatial primitives from which they are formed. The earliest concepts tend to be global, like animal and container, and it is hypothesized that they consist of simplified redescriptions of innately salient spatial information. These redescriptions become associated with sensory and other bodily experiences that are not themselves redescribed, but that enrich conceptual thought. The initial conceptual base becomes expanded through subdivision, sometimes aided by language that (...)
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  • How to Improve on Quinian Bootstrapping – a Response to Nativist Objections.Zoltan Jakab - 2013 - Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Quinian bootstrapping is Susan Carey's solution to Fodor’s paradox of concept learning. Carey claims that contrary to Fodor’s view, not all learning amounts to hypothesis testing, and that there are ways in which even primitive concepts can be learned. Recently Georges Rey has argued that Carey’s attempt to refute radical concept nativism is unsuccessful. First it cannot explain how the expressive power of mental representational systems could increase due to learning. Second, both Fodorian circularity charges and Goodmanian problems of indeterminacy (...)
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  • Scientific Practice, Conceptual Change, and the Nature of Concepts.Ingo Brigandt - manuscript
    The theory of concepts advanced in the present discussion aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. To this end, I suggest that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) the concept.
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  • Conceptual Atomism Rethought.Susan Schneider - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):224-225.
    Focusing on Machery's claim that concepts play entirely different roles in philosophy and psychology, I explain how one well-known philosophical theory of concepts, Conceptual Atomism (CA), when properly understood, takes into account both kinds of roles.
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  • Graceful Degradation and Conceptual Development.Frank Keil - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):133-134.
    In this book, Carey gives cognitive science a detailed account of the origins of concepts and an explanation of how origins stories are essential to understanding what concepts are and how we use them. At the same time, this book's details help highlight the challenge of explaining how conceptual change works with real-world concepts that often have heavily degraded internal content.
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  • Beyond the Building Blocks Model.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):139-140.
    This article is a commentary on Carey (2009) The Origin of Concepts. Carey rightly rejects the building blocks model of concept acquisition on the grounds that new primitive concepts can be learned via the process of bootstrapping. But new primitives can be learned by other acquisition processes that do not involve bootstrapping, and bootstrapping itself is not a unitary process. Nonetheless, the processes associated with bootstrapping provide important insights into conceptual change.
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  • Rebooting the Bootstrap Argument: Two Puzzles for Bootstrap Theories of Concept Development.Lance J. Rips, Susan J. Hespos & Susan Carey - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):145.
    The Origin of Concepts sets out an impressive defense of the view that children construct entirely new systems of concepts. We offer here two questions about this theory. First, why doesn't the bootstrapping process provide a pattern for translating between the old and new systems, contradicting their claimed incommensurability? Second, can the bootstrapping process properly distinguish meaning change from belief change?
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  • Précis of the Origin of Concepts.Susan Carey - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):113-124.
    A theory of conceptual development must specify the innate representational primitives, must characterize the ways in which the initial state differs from the adult state, and must characterize the processes through which one is transformed into the other. The Origin of Concepts (henceforth TOOC) defends three theses. With respect to the initial state, the innate stock of primitives is not limited to sensory, perceptual, or sensorimotor representations; rather, there are also innate conceptual representations. With respect to developmental change, conceptual development (...)
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  • Concepts.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2003 - In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 190-213.
    This article provides a critical overview of competing theories of conceptual structure (definitional structure, probabilistic structure, theory structure), including the view that concepts have no structure (atomism). We argue that the explanatory demands that these different theories answer to are best accommodated by an organization in which concepts are taken to have atomic cores that are linked to differing types of conceptual structure.
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  • Learning Matters: The Role of Learning in Concept Acquisition.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (5):507-539.
    In LOT 2: The Language of Thought Revisited, Jerry Fodor argues that concept learning of any kind—even for complex concepts—is simply impossible. In order to avoid the conclusion that all concepts, primitive and complex, are innate, he argues that concept acquisition depends on purely noncognitive biological processes. In this paper, we show (1) that Fodor fails to establish that concept learning is impossible, (2) that his own biological account of concept acquisition is unworkable, and (3) that there are in fact (...)
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  • Abstraction and the Origin of General Ideas.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2012 - Philosophers' Imprint 12:1-22.
    Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space (...)
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  • Concept Nativism and Neural Plasticity.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2015 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), The Conceptual Mind: New Directions in the Study of Concepts. MIT Press. pp. 117-147.
    One of the most important recent developments in the study of concepts has been the resurgence of interest in nativist accounts of the human conceptual system. However, many theorists suppose that a key feature of neural organization—the brain’s plasticity—undermines the nativist approach to concept acquisition. We argue that, on the contrary, not only does the brain’s plasticity fail to undermine concept nativism, but a detailed examination of the neurological evidence actually provides powerful support for concept nativism.
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  • In Defense of Nativism.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):693-718.
    This paper takes a fresh look at the nativism–empiricism debate, presenting and defending a nativist perspective on the mind. Empiricism is often taken to be the default view both in philosophy and in cognitive science. This paper argues, on the contrary, that there should be no presumption in favor of empiricism (or nativism), but that the existing evidence suggests that nativism is the most promising framework for the scientific study of the mind. Our case on behalf of nativism has four (...)
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  • Representational Development Need Not Be Explicable-by-Content.Nicholas Shea - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence. Springer: Sythese Library.
    Fodor’s radical concept nativism flowed from his view that hypothesis testing is the only route to concept acquisition. Many have successfully objected to the overly-narrow restriction to learning by hypothesis testing. Existing representations can be connected to a new representational vehicle so as to constitute a sustaining mechanism for a new representation, without the new representation thereby being constituted by or structured out of the old. This paper argues that there is also a deeper objection. Connectionism shows that a more (...)
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  • Minimally Innate Ideas.Michele Merritt - unknown
    This project provides a detailed examination and critique of current philosophical, linguistic, and cognitive accounts of first language acquisition. In particular, I focus on the concept of "innate" and how it is embraced, marginally utilized, or abandoned altogether in efforts to describe the way that a child comes to be a competent user of a language. A central question that naturally falls out of this general inquiry is therefore what exactly is supposed to be "innate," according to various theories? Philosophically, (...)
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  • The Origins of Concepts.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 140 (3):359 - 384.
    Certain of our concepts are innate, but many others are learned. Despite the plausibility of this claim, some have argued that the very idea of concept learning is incoherent. I present a conception of learning that sidesteps the arguments against the possibility of concept learning, and sketch several mechanisms that result in the generation of new primitive concepts. Given the rational considerations that motivate their deployment, I argue that these deserve to be called learning mechanisms. I conclude by replying to (...)
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  • Theoretical Terms Without Analytic Truths.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):167-190.
    When new theoretical terms are introduced into scientific discourse, prevailing accounts imply, analytic or semantic truths come along with them, by way of either definitions or reference-fixing descriptions. But there appear to be few or no analytic truths in scientific theory, which suggests that the prevailing accounts are mistaken. This paper looks to research on the psychology of natural kind concepts to suggest a new account of the introduction of theoretical terms that avoids both definition and reference-fixing description. At the (...)
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  • Applying the Causal Theory of Reference to Intentional Concepts.John Michael & Miles MacLeod - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):212-230.
    We argue that many recent philosophical discussions about the reference of everyday concepts of intentional states have implicitly been predicated on descriptive theories of reference. To rectify this, we attempt to demonstrate how a causal theory can be applied to intentional concepts. Specifically, we argue that some phenomena in early social de- velopment ðe.g., mimicry, gaze following, and emotional contagionÞ can serve as refer- ence fixers that enable children to track others’ intentional states and, thus, to refer to those states. (...)
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  • Bootstrapping in a Language of Thought: A Formal Model of Numerical Concept Learning.Steven T. Piantadosi, Joshua B. Tenenbaum & Noah D. Goodman - 2012 - Cognition 123 (2):199-217.
  • Kantian Schemata: A Critique Consistent with the Critique.Marc Champagne - 2018 - Philosophical Investigations 41 (4):436-445.
    Kant posits the schema as a hybrid bridging the generality of pure concepts and the particularity of sensible intuitions. However, I argue that countenancing such schemata leads to a third-man regress. Siding with those who think that the mid-way posit of the Critique of Pure Reason's schematism section is untenable, my diagnosis is that Kant's transcendental inquiry goes awry because it attempts to analyse a form/matter union that is primitive. I therefore sketch a nonrepresentational stance aimed at respecting this primitivity.
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  • The Essence of Mentalistic Agents.Shaun Nichols - 2017 - Synthese 194 (3):809-825.
    Over the last several decades, there has been a wealth of illuminating work on processes implicated in social cognition. Much less has been done in articulating how we learn the contours of particular concepts deployed in social cognition, like the concept MENTALISTIC AGENT. Recent developments in learning theory afford new tools for approaching these questions. In this article, I describe some rudimentary ways in which learning theoretic considerations can illuminate philosophically important aspects of the MENTALISTIC AGENT concept. I maintain that (...)
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  • Innate and Learned: Carey, Mad Dog Nativism, and the Poverty of Stimuli and Analogies (Yet Again).Georges Rey - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (2):109-132.
    In her recent (2009) book, The Origins of Concepts, Susan Carey argues that what she calls ‘Quinean Bootstrapping’ and processes of analogy in children show that the expressive power of a mind can be increased in ways that refute Jerry Fodor's (1975, 2008) ‘Mad Dog’ view that all concepts are innate. I argue that it is doubtful any evidence about the manifestation of concepts in children will bear upon the logico-semantic issues of expressive power. Analogy and bootstrapping may be ways (...)
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  • Content and Its Vehicles in Connectionist Systems.Nicholas Shea - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (3):246–269.
    This paper advocates explicitness about the type of entity to be considered as content- bearing in connectionist systems; it makes a positive proposal about how vehicles of content should be individuated; and it deploys that proposal to argue in favour of representation in connectionist systems. The proposal is that the vehicles of content in some connectionist systems are clusters in the state space of a hidden layer. Attributing content to such vehicles is required to vindicate the standard explanation for some (...)
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  • New Concepts Can Be Learned. [REVIEW]Nicholas Shea - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):129 - 139.
    Many have doubted whether the transition to genuinely new representational resources is susceptible to psychological explanation. In The Origin of Concepts (O.U.P. 2009), Susan Carey makes a strong empirical case for the existence of discontinuities in conceptual development. Carey also offers a plausible psychological explanation of some of these transitions, in particular of the child’s acquisition of the ability to represent natural numbers. The combination amounts to a forceful answer to puzzles about the learnability of new representations.
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  • Where Concepts Come From: Learning Concepts by Description and by Demonstration.Dylan Sabo - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (3):531-549.
    Jerry Fodor’s arguments against the possibility of concept learning, and the responses that have been offered in defense of the coherence of concept learning, have both by and large assumed that concept learning is a descriptive process. I offer an alternative, ostensive approach to concept learning and explain how descriptive concept learning can be explained as a version of ostensive concept learning. I argue that an ostensive view of concept learning offers an empirically plausible and philosophically adequate account of concept (...)
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