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Concepts: Core Readings

MIT Press (1999)

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  1. Conceptual Fragmentation and the Rise of Eliminativism.Henry Taylor & Peter Vickers - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (1):17-40.
    Pluralist and eliminativist positions have proliferated within both science and philosophy of science in recent decades. This paper asks the question why this shift of thinking has occurred, and where it is leading us. We provide an explanation which, if correct, entails that we should expect pluralism and eliminativism to transform other debates currently unaffected, and for good reasons. We then consider the question under what circumstances eliminativism will be appropriate, arguing that it depends not only on the term in (...)
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  • Psychological Essentialism and Semantic Externalism Evidence for Externalism in Lay Speakers' Language Use.Jussi Jylkka, Henry Railo & Jussi Haukioja - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39 (1):105-110.
    Some experimental studies have recently claimed to undermine semantic externalism about natural kind terms. However, it is unclear how philosophical accounts of reference can be experimentally tested. We present two externalistic adaptations of psychological placeholder essentialism, a strict externalist and a hybrid externalist view, which are experimentally testable. We examine Braisby’s et al. (1996) study which claims to undermine externalism, and argue that the study fails in its aims. We conducted two experiments, the results of which undermine internalism and the (...)
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  • On Problems with Descriptivism: Psychological Assumptions and Empirical Evidence.Eduardo García-ramírez & Marilyn Shatz - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (1):53-77.
    We offer an empirical assessment of description theories of proper names. We examine empirical evidence on lexical and cognitive development, memory, and aphasia, to see whether it supports Descriptivism. We show that description theories demand much more, in terms of psychological assumptions, than what the data suggest; hence, they lack empirical support. We argue that this problem undermines their success as philosophical theories for proper names in natural languages. We conclude by presenting and defending a preliminary alternative account of reference (...)
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  • Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.
    This paper is about philosophical disputes where the literal content of what speakers communicate concerns such object-level issues as ground, supervenience, or real definition. It is tempting to think that such disputes straightforwardly express disagreements about these topics. In contrast to this, I suggest that, in many such cases, the disagreement that is expressed is actually one about which concepts should be employed. I make this case as follows. First, I look at non-philosophical, everyday disputes where a speaker employs a (...)
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  • Conceptual Ethics I.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1091-1101.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosophy. In (...)
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  • Mental Concepts as Natural Kind Concepts.Diana I. Pérez - 2004 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (Supplement):201-225.
  • Indiscriminable Shades and Demonstrative Concepts.Philippe Chuard - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):277 – 306.
    Conceptualists have it that the representational content of perceptual experience is determined by the concepts a subject applies in having such an experience. Conceptualists like Bill Brewer [1999] and John McDowell [1994] have laid particular emphasis on demonstrative concepts in trying to account for the fact that subjects can perceive and discriminate very many specific shades of colour in experience. Against this, it has been objected that such demonstrative concepts have incoherent conditions of extension and/or of individuation, due to the (...)
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  • Why Concepts Can't Be Theories.Jack M. C. Kwong - 2006 - Philosophical Explorations 9 (3):309-325.
    In this paper, I present an alternative argument for Jerry Fodor's recent conclusion that there are currently no tenable theories of concepts in the cognitive sciences and in the philosophy of mind. Briefly, my approach focuses on the 'theory-theory' of concepts. I argue that the two ways in which cognitive psychologists have formulated this theory lead to serious difficulties, and that there cannot be, in principle, a third way in which it can be reformulated. Insofar as the 'theory-theory' is supposed (...)
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  • Animalism, Dicephalus, and Borderline Cases.Stephan Blatti - 2007 - Philosophical Psychology 20 (5):595-608.
    The rare condition known as dicephalus occurs when (prior to implantation) a zygote fails to divide completely, resulting in twins who are conjoined below the neck. Human dicephalic twins look like a two-headed person, with each brain supporting a distinct mental life. Jeff McMahan has recently argued that, because they instance two of us but only one animal, dicephalic twins provide a counterexample to the animalist's claim that each of us is identical with a human animal. To the contrary, I (...)
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  • Psychological Essentialism and Semantic Externalism: Evidence for Externalism in Lay Speakers' Language Use.Jussi Jylkk - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (1):37 – 60.
    Some experimental studies have recently claimed to undermine semantic externalism about natural kind terms. However, it is unclear how philosophical accounts of reference can be experimentally tested. We present two externalistic adaptations of psychological placeholder essentialism, a strict externalist and a hybrid externalist view, which are experimentally testable. We examine Braisby, Franks, and Hampton's (1996) study which claims to undermine externalism, and argue that the study fails in its aims. We conducted two experiments, the results of which undermine internalism and (...)
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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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  • Kant and Nonconceptual Content.Robert Hanna - 2005 - European Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):247-290.
  • The Plurality of Concepts.Daniel Aaron Weiskopf - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):145-173.
    Traditionally, theories of concepts in psychology assume that concepts are a single, uniform kind of mental representation. But no single kind of representation can explain all of the empirical data for which concepts are responsible. I argue that the assumption that concepts are uniformly the same kind of mental structure is responsible for these theories’ shortcomings, and outline a pluralist theory of concepts that rejects this assumption. On pluralism, concepts should be thought of as being constituted by multiple representational kinds, (...)
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  • Précis of Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (3):602-611.
    Although cognitive scientists have learned a lot about concepts, their findings have yet to be organized in a coherent theoretical framework. In addition, after twenty years of controversy, there is little sign that philosophers and psychologists are converging toward an agreement about the very nature of concepts. Doing without Concepts (Machery 2009) attempts to remedy this state of affairs. In this article, I review the main points and arguments developed at greater length in Doing without Concepts.
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  • 'Along an Imperfectly-Lighted Path': Practical Rationality and Normative Uncertainty.Andrew Sepielli - unknown
    Nobody's going to object to the advice "Do the right thing", but that doesn't mean everyone's always going to follow it. Sometimes this is because of our volitional limitations; we cannot always bring ourselves to make the sacrifices that right action requires. But sometimes this is because of our cognitive limitations; we cannot always be sure of what is right. Sometimes we can't be sure of what's right because we don't know the non-normative facts. But sometimes, even if we were (...)
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  • Kant and Strawson on the Content of Geometrical Concepts.Katherine Dunlop - 2012 - Noûs 46 (1):86-126.
    This paper considers Kant's understanding of conceptual representation in light of his view of geometry.
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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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  • From Conceptual Representations to Explanatory Relations.Tania Lombrozo - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):218-219.
    Machery emphasizes the centrality of explanation for theory-based approaches to concepts. I endorse Machery's emphasis on explanation and consider recent advances in psychology that point to the of explanation, with consequences for Machery's heterogeneity hypothesis about concepts.
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  • Concepts and Theoretical Unification.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):219-220.
    This article is a commentary on Machery (2009) Doing without Concepts. Concepts are mental symbols that have semantic structure and processing structure. This approach (1) allows for different disciplines to converge on a common subject matter; (2) it promotes theoretical unification; and (3) it accommodates the varied processes that preoccupy Machery. It also avoids problems that go with his eliminativism, including the explanation of how fundamentally different types of concepts can be co-referential.
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  • Précis of Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):195-206.
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  • Précis de Doing Without Concepts.Édouard Machery - 2011 - Dialogue 50 (1):141-152.
  • A Positivist Route for Explaining How Facts Make Law.David Plunkett - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (2):139-207.
    In “How Facts Make Law” and other recent work, Mark Greenberg argues that legal positivists cannot develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets what he calls the “the rational-relation requirement.” He argues that this gives us reason to reject positivism in favor of antipositivism. In this paper, I argue that Greenberg is wrong: positivists can in fact develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets the rational-relation requirement. I make this argument in two stages. First, I offer (...)
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  • Dworkin's Interpretivism and the Pragmatics of Legal Disputes.David Plunkett & Timothy Sundell - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (3):242-281.
    One of Ronald Dworkin's most distinctive claims in legal philosophy is that law is an interpretative concept, a special kind of concept whose correct application depends neither on fixed criteria nor on an instance-identifying decision procedure but rather on the normative or evaluative facts that best justify the total set of practices in which that concept is used. The main argument that Dworkin gives for interpretivism about some conceptis a disagreement-based argument. We argue here that Dworkin's disagreement-based argument relies on (...)
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  • Prototypical Reasoning About Species and the Species Problem.Yuichi Amitani - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (4):289-300.
    The species problem is often described as the abundance of conflicting definitions of _species_, such as the biological species concept and phylogenetic species concepts. But biologists understand the notion of species in a non-definitional as well as a definitional way. In this article I argue that when they understand _species_ without a definition in their mind, their understanding is often mediated by the notion of _good species_, or prototypical species, as the idea of ``prototype'' is explicated in cognitive psychology. This (...)
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  • The Ontology of Concepts: Abstract Objects or Mental Representations?Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2007 - Noûs 41 (4):561-593.
    What is a concept? Philosophers have given many different answers to this question, reflecting a wide variety of approaches to the study of mind and language. Nonetheless, at the most general level, there are two dominant frameworks in contemporary philosophy. One proposes that concepts are mental representations, while the other proposes that they are abstract objects. This paper looks at the differences between these two approaches, the prospects for combining them, and the issues that are involved in the dispute. We (...)
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  • Pragmatic Experimental Philosophy.Justin C. Fisher - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (3):412-433.
    This paper considers three package deals combining views in philosophy of mind, meta-philosophy, and experimental philosophy. The most familiar of these packages gives center-stage to pumping intuitions about fanciful cases, but that package involves problematic commitments both to a controversial descriptivist theory of reference and to intuitions that “negative” experimental philosophers have shown to be suspiciously variable and context-sensitive. In light of these difficulties, it would be good for future-minded experimental philosophers to align themselves with a different package deal. This (...)
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  • From Impossible Words to Conceptual Structure: The Role of Structure and Processes in the Lexicon.Kent Johnson - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (3):334-358.
    The structure of words is often thought to provide important evidence regarding the structure of concepts. At the same time, most contemporary linguists posit a great deal of structure in words. Such a trend makes some atomists about concepts uncomfortable. The details of linguistic methodology undermine several strategies for avoiding positing structure in words. I conclude by arguing that there is insufficient evidence to hold that word-structure bears any interesting relation to the structure of concepts.
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  • Folk Concepts of Intentional Action in the Contexts of Amoral and Immoral Luck.Paulo Sousa & Colin Holbrook - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3):351-370.
    This paper concerns a recently discovered, puzzling asymmetry in judgments of whether an action is intentional or not (Knobe, Philosophical Psychology 16:309–324, 2003a ; Analysis 63:190–193, b ). We report new data replicating the asymmetry in the context of scenarios wherein an agent achieves an amoral or immoral goal due to luck. Participants’ justifications of their judgments of the intentionality of the agent’s action indicate that two distinct folk concepts of intentional action played a role in their judgments. When viewed (...)
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  • The Authority of Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis.Justin C. Fisher - unknown
    This paper defends Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis , a proposed empirical methodology for explicating philosophical concepts. This methodology attributes to our shared concepts whatever application conditions they would need to have in order best to continue delivering benefits in the ways they have regularly delivered benefits in the past. In the first stage of my argument I argue that Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis has what I call normative authority : we have practical and epistemic reason to adopt the explications that it delivers (...)
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  • Neoclassical Concepts.Derek Leben - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (1):44-69.
    Linguistic theories of lexical semantics support a Neoclassical Theory of concepts, where entities like CAUSE, STATE, and MANNER serve as necessary conditions for the possession of individual event concepts. Not all concepts have a neoclassical structure, and whether or not words participate in regular linguistic patterns such as verbal alternations will be proposed as a probe for identifying whether their corresponding concepts do indeed have such structure. I show how the Neoclassical Theory supplements existing theories of concepts and supports a (...)
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  • Naturalising Representational Content.Nicholas Shea - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):496-509.
    This paper sets out a view about the explanatory role of representational content and advocates one approach to naturalising content – to giving a naturalistic account of what makes an entity a representation and in virtue of what it has the content it does. It argues for pluralism about the metaphysics of content and suggests that a good strategy is to ask the content question with respect to a variety of predictively successful information processing models in experimental psychology and cognitive (...)
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  • Précis of Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (3):401-410.
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  • Ontological Minimalism About Phenomenology.Susanna Schellenberg - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (1):1-40.
    I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perception are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. These concepts and nonconceptual structures are identified with modes of presentation types. (...)
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  • Reading Conflicted Minds: An Empirical Follow-Up to Knobe and Roedder.Chad Gonnerman - 2008 - Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):193 – 205.
    Recently Joshua Knobe and Erica Roedder found that folk attributions of valuing tend to vary according to the perceived moral goodness of the object of value. This is an interesting finding, but it remains unclear what, precisely, it means. Knobe and Roedder argue that it indicates that the concept MORAL GOODNESS is a feature of the concept VALUING. In this article, I present a study of folk attributions of desires and moral beliefs that undermines this conclusion. I then propose the (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Expressivism, Representation, and the Nature of Conceptual Analysis.David Plunkett - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):15-31.
  • After Objectivity: An Empirical Study of Moral Judgment.Shaun Nichols - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (1):3 – 26.
    This paper develops an empirical argument that the rejection of moral objectivity leaves important features of moral judgment intact. In each of five reported experiments, a number of participants endorsed a nonobjectivist claim about a canonical moral violation. In four of these experiments, participants were also given a standard measure of moral judgment, the moral/conventional task. In all four studies, participants who respond as nonobjectivists about canonical moral violations still treat such violations in typical ways on the moral/conventional task. In (...)
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  • Cognitive Architecture and the Epistemic Gap: Defending Physicalism Without Phenomenal Concepts.Peter Fazekas - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (1):21-29.
    The novel approach presented in this paper accounts for the occurrence of the epistemic gap and defends physicalism against anti-physicalist arguments without relying on so-called phenomenal concepts. Instead of concentrating on conceptual features, the focus is shifted to the special characteristics of experiences themselves. To this extent, the account provided is an alternative to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. It is argued that certain sensory representations, as accessed by higher cognition, lack constituent structure. Unstructured representations could freely exchange their causal roles (...)
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  • A Definition Framework for the Terms Nanomaterial and Nanoparticle.Max Boholm & Rickard Arvidsson - 2016 - NanoEthics 10 (1):25-40.
    Scientific writings and policy documents define the terms nanomaterial and nanoparticle in various ways. This variation is considered problematic because the absence of a shared definition is understood as potentially hindering nanomaterial knowledge production and regulation. Another view is that the existence of a shared definition may itself cause problems, as rigid definitions arguably exclude important aspects of the studied phenomena. The aim of this paper is to inform this state of disagreement by providing analytical concepts for a systematic understanding (...)
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  • Rationale and Maxims in the Study of Concepts.Christopher Peacocke - 2005 - Noûs 39 (1):167-78.
    Is there any good reason for thinking that a concept is individuated by the condition for a thinker to possess it? Why is that approach superior to alternative accounts of the individuation of concepts? These are amongst the fundamental questions raised by Wayne Davis.
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  • Is Intuition Based On Understanding?[I Thank Jo].Elijah Chudnoff - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):42-67.
    According to the most popular non-skeptical views about intuition, intuitions justify beliefs because they are based on understanding. More precisely: if intuiting that p justifies you in believing that p it does so because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. The aim of this paper is to raise some challenges for accounts of intuitive justification along these lines. I pursue this project from a non-skeptical perspective. I argue that there are cases in which intuiting (...)
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  • 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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  • Conceptualizing Physical Consciousness.James Tartaglia - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (6):817-838.
    Theories that combine physicalism with phenomenal concepts abandon the phenomenal irrealism characteristic of 1950s physicalism, thereby leaving physicalists trying to reconcile themselves to concepts appropriate only to dualism. Physicalists should instead abandon phenomenal concepts and try to develop our concepts of conscious states. Employing an account of concepts as structured mental representations, and motivating a model of conceptual development with semantic externalist considerations, I suggest that phenomenal concepts misrepresent their referents, such that if our conception of consciousness incorporates them, it (...)
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  • Concepts and Epistemic Individuation.Wayne A. Davis - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):290-325.
    Christopher Peacocke has presented an original version of the perennial philosophical thesis that we can gain substantive metaphysical and epistemological insight from an analysis of our concepts. Peacocke's innovation is to look at how concepts are individuated by their possession conditions, which he believes can be specified in terms of conditions in which certain propositions containing those concepts are accepted. The ability to provide such insight is one of Peacocke's major arguments for his theory of concepts. I will critically examine (...)
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  • Normative Judgement.Scott Sturgeon - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):569–587.
  • Reading Semantic Cognition as a Theory of Concepts.Jesse Snedeker - 2008 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (6):727-728.
    Any theory of semantic cognition is also a theory of concepts. There are two ways to construe the models presented by Rogers & McClelland (R&M) in Semantic Cognition. If we construe the input and output representations as concepts, then the models capture knowledge acquisition within a stable set of concepts. If we construe the hidden-layer representations as concepts, the models provide a simulation of conceptual change.
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  • Concepts, Analysis, Generics and the Canberra Plan.Mark Johnston & Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):113-171.
  • Causation, Norms, and Omissions: A Study of Causal Judgments.Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):279-293.
    Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...)
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  • Reframing Caring as Discursive Practice: A Critical Review of Conceptual Analyses of Caring in Nursing.Andrew Sargent - 2012 - Nursing Inquiry 19 (2):134-143.
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