A growing consensus in the philosophy and psychology of concepts is that while theories such as the prototype, exemplar, and theory theories successfully account for some instances of concept formation and application, none of them successfully accounts for all such instances. I argue against this ‘new consensus’ and show that the problem is, in fact, more severe: the explanatory force of each of these theories is limited even with respect to the phenomena often cited to support it, as each fails (...) to satisfy an important explanatory desideratum with respect to these phenomena. I argue that these explanatory shortcomings arise from a shared assumption on the part of these theories, namely, they take similarity judgements and application of causal knowledge to be discrete elements in a theory of concepts. I further propose that the same assumption carries over into alternative theories offered by proponents of the new consensus: pluralism, eliminativism, and hybrid theories. I put forth a sketch of an integrated model of concept formation and application, which rejects this shared assumption and satisfies the explanatory desiderata I discuss. I suggest that this model undermines the motivation for hybrid, pluralist, and eliminativist accounts of concepts. _1_ Introduction _2_ The Similarity-Based Approach and the Importance of Theory _2.1_ The similarity-based approach _2.2_ The selection desideratum _2.3_ Causal knowledge as satisfying the selection desideratum _3_ The Theory-Based Approach and the Importance of Similarity _3.1_ The theory-based approach _3.2_ The range desideratum _3.3_ Similarity as satisfying the range desideratum _4_ An Integrated Approach to Concepts _4.1_ An integrated model _4.2_ The integrated theory versus hybrid theories of concepts _5_ Conclusion. (shrink)
We present a novel way of accounting for similarity judgments. Our approach posits that similarity stems from three main sources—familiarity, priming, and inherent perceptual likeness. Here, we explore each of these constructs and demonstrate their individual and combined effectiveness in explaining similarity judgments. Using these three measures, our account of similarity explains ratings of simple, color-based perceptual stimuli that display asymmetry effects, as well as more complicated perceptual stimuli with structural properties; more traditional approaches to similarity solve one or the (...) other and have difficulty accounting for both. Overall, our work demonstrates the importance of each of these components of similarity in explaining similarity judgments, both individually and together, and suggests important implications for other similarity approaches. (shrink)
Political discourse is saturated with metaphor, but evidence for the persuasive power of this language has been hard to come by. We addressed this issue by investigating whether voting intentions were affected by implicit mappings suggested by a metaphorically framed message, drawing on a real-world example of political rhetoric about the federal budget. In the first experiment, the federal budget was framed as similar to or different from a household budget, though the information participants received was identical in both conditions. (...) When the federal budget was described as similar to a household's, people considered the personal finances of a presidential candidate more relevant—a finding we replicated in a larger, pre-registered study. In a follow-up experiment, we presented participants with a more explicit rhetorical argument and found a similar effect, moderated by political affiliation. These studies illuminate how metaphorical comparison affects cognition for important real-world issues, sometimes in unintended ways. (shrink)
Measuring perceived similarity is an important issue in visual perception of faces, since a measure of the perceived similarity between faces may be used to investigate fundamental tasks like face categorization and recognition. Despite its fundamental role, measuring perceived similarity between faces is not trivial from both a theoretical and methodological point of view. In this paper we present theoretical arguments that undermine the method currently most used to measure perceived similarity between faces in visual perception, and we propose an (...) alternative method. We finally compare the two methods and find some empirical evidence that the proposed method can provide a more reliable evaluation of the perceived similarity between faces. (shrink)
This paper presents a new response to the colour similarity argument, an argument that many people take to pose the greatest threat to colour physicalism. The colour similarity argument assumes that if colour physicalism is true, then colour similarities should be scrutable under standard physical descriptions of surface reflectance properties such as their spectral reflectance curves. Given this assumption, our evident failure to find such similarities at the reducing level seemingly proves fatal to colour physicalism. I argue that we should (...) dispense with this assumption, and thus endorse the inscrutability of colour similarity. This strategy is inspired by parallels between the colour similarity argument and the explanatory gap between mind and body made vivid by Jackson’s (1986) knowledge argument, and in particular by type-B physicalist responses to that argument. This inscrutability response is further motivated by cases in chemistry and biochemistry in which analogous scrutability theses fail to hold. Along the way, I present a challenge to standard formulations of the colour similarity argument based on the extreme context sensitivity of the similarity relation. Most presentations of the argument fail to control for such contextual variation, which raises the distinct possibility that the argument equivocates on the similarity relation across its premises. Although ultimately inconclusive, this context challenge forces a significant reformulation of the colour similarity argument, and highlights the need for much greater care in handling claims about colour similarity. (shrink)
Quantum probability theory (QP) is the best formal representation available of the most common form of judgment involving attribute comparison (inside judgment). People are capable, however, of judgments that involve proportions over sets of instances (outside judgment). Here, the theory does not do so well. I discuss the theory both in terms of descriptive adequacy and normative appropriateness.
Studies exploring how students learn and understand science processes such as diffusion and natural selection typically find that students provide misconceived explanations of how the patterns of such processes arise (such as why giraffes’ necks get longer over generations, or how ink dropped into water appears to “flow”). Instead of explaining the patterns of these processes as emerging from the collective interactions of all the agents (e.g., both the water and the ink molecules), students often explain the pattern as being (...) caused by controlling agents with intentional goals, as well as express a variety of many other misconceived notions. In this article, we provide a hypothesis for what constitutes a misconceived explanation; why misconceived explanations are so prevalent, robust, and resistant to instruction; and offer one approach of how they may be overcome. In particular, we hypothesize that students misunderstand many science processes because they rely on a generalized version of narrative schemas and scripts (referred to here as a Direct-causal Schema) to interpret them. For science processes that are sequential and stage-like, such as cycles of moon, circulation of blood, stages of mitosis, and photosynthesis, a Direct-causal Schema is adequate for correct understanding. However, for science processes that are non-sequential (or emergent), such as diffusion, natural selection, osmosis, and heat flow, using a Direct Schema to understand these processes will lead to robust misconceptions. Instead, a different type of general schema may be required to interpret non-sequential processes, which we refer to as an Emergent-causal Schema. We propose that students lack this Emergent Schema and teaching it to them may help them learn and understand emergent kinds of science processes such as diffusion. Our study found that directly teaching students this Emergent Schema led to increased learning of the process of diffusion. This article presents a fine-grained characterization of each type of Schema, our instructional intervention, the successes we have achieved, and the lessons we have learned. (shrink)
This article examines the role of similarity in the hybridization of concepts, focusing on hybrid products as an applied test case. Hybrid concepts found in natural language, such as singer songwriter, typically combine similar concepts, whereas dissimilar concepts rarely form hybrids. The hybridization of dissimilar concepts in products such as jogging shoe mp3 player and refrigerator TV thus poses a challenge for understanding the process of conceptual combination. It is proposed that models of conceptual combination can throw light on the (...) judged future success and desirability of hybrid products in general. The composite prototype model proposes two stages of conceptual combination. In the first stage, the concepts are aggregated into an additive hybrid, simply by forming the union of the two sets of attributes. In the second stage, any conflicting attributes are identified and resolved, often with the introduction of emergent attributes, resulting in an integrative hybrid. Across four studies that varied the similarity and type of hybrid products, similar and integrative hybrids were valued more than dissimilar and additive hybrids. Critically, though, dissimilar hybrids were also highly valued if they were integrative. Results supported the two stages proposed by the composite prototype model, and implications for other models of hybrid formation are discussed. (shrink)
In a famous critique, Goodman dismissed similarity as a slippery and both philosophically and scientifically useless notion. We revisit his critique in the light of important recent work on similarity in psychology and cognitive science. Specifically, we use Tversky’s influential set-theoretic account of similarity as well as Gärdenfors’s more recent resuscitation of the geometrical account to show that, while Goodman’s critique contained valuable insights, it does not warrant a dismissal of similarity.
The standard approach to the so-called paradoxes of identity has been to argue that these paradoxes do not essentially concern the notion of identity but rather betray misconceptions on our part regarding other metaphysical notions, like that of an object or a property. This paper proposes a different approach by pointing to an ambiguity in the identity predicate and arguing that the concept of identity that figures in many ordinary identity claims, including those that appear in the paradoxes, is not (...) the traditional philosophical concept but one that can be defined in terms of relevant similarity. This approach to the paradoxes will be argued to be superior to the standard one. (shrink)
Human cognition is striking in its brilliance and its adaptability. How do we get that way? How do we move from the nearly helpless state of infants to the cognitive proficiency that characterizes adults? In this paper I argue, first, that analogical ability is the key factor in our prodigious capacity, and, second, that possession of a symbol system is crucial to the full expression of analogical ability.
: According to a consensus of psycho-physiological and philosophical theories, color sensations (or qualia) are generated in a cerebral "space" fed from photon-photoreceptor interaction (producing "metamers") in the retina of the eye. The resulting "space" has three dimensions: hue (or chroma), saturation (or "purity"), and brightness (lightness, value or intensity) and (in some versions) is further structured by primitive or landmark "colors"—usually four, or six (when white and black are added to red, yellow, green and blue). It has also been (...) proposed that there are eleven semantic universals—labeling the previous six plus the "intermediaries" of orange, pink, brown, purple, and gray. There are many versions of this consensus, but they all aim to provide ontological, epistemological and semantic blueprints for the brute fact of the reality of color ordained by Nature (evolution). In contrast to this consensus, we have argued that "seeing color" is not a matter of light waves impacting on our eyes, producing sensations to be categorized and labeled in the "color space" in the brain. While electrochemical events may unproblematically be regarded as the causal precondition for seeing color, the reception of sensations in "the color space" as semantically labeled natural categories, kinds, or information, is a "just so" story: it is Wittgenstein's beetle in a box. In contrast we consider that the authority of this consensus might better be regarded not as the result of the truth-tracking of nature, but as the sociohistorical outcome of philosophical presuppositions, scientific theories, experimental practices, technological apparatus, and their feed forward into the lifeworld. The question we shall therefore explore is whether, or to what extent, we ourselves are changed, as the conditions of production of color science change. Thus we are doing a kind of anthropology at two levels: of color science itself (and its effect on our own lifeworld), and of those studied by the "anthropology of color". As befits this stance we are agnostic about the theoretical entities of color science (cf. van Fraassen 2001), and within this new context, we propose to cross-cut object-and-subject, organism-and-environment (the bedrock of color science) in socio-historical ways. Our approach is in part inspired by, but not the same as, that of Gibson, in that we wish to pursue the notion of "social affordances" (Burmudez 1995). We suggest that color has become a naturalization through science-based technologies, which, through praxes and materializations, have become the perceptual and cultural entities that structure experience and understanding in the lifeworld. It is this naturalization that we shall refer to and characterize as "the historically inflected exosomatic organ". Consequently we shall explore the historical ontology of "color" without assuming an underlying biological constant (Dupré 2001). In part 1 we show the flimsiness of the evidence for the three dimensions of color, borrowed from physics, and fine-tuned to a "standard observer" (a "spectral creature" with a phenomenal "color space"). In part 2 we address the structuring of hue through the development of color circles and color spaces. This is followed by a review of the evidence for unique hues. Again the evidence is shown to be flimsy. We then show that an isolated domain of color is a particular kind of model, not a "natural given". In part 3, after reviewing what is referred to as "the isomorphy thesis," we discuss the exemplary case study of Berlin and Kay (1969). This illustrates the pull of stadial models presupposed by their evolutionary theory of color language. The Berlin and Kay paradigm proposes that American English color terms are incorrigible and can provide the universal metalanguage. We conclude by presenting an alternative account, namely that we ourselves are changed as the conditions of production of color science change. We argue that it is better to regard "seeing-color" as a historically inflected exosomatic organ that provides social affordances for those trained to grasp them. (shrink)
The effect of state anxiety on analogical reasoning was investigated by examining qualitative differences in mapping performance between anxious and non-anxious individuals reasoning about pictorial analogies. The working-memory restriction theory of anxiety, coupled with theories of analogy that link complexity of mapping with working-memory capacity, predicts that high anxiety will impair the ability to find correspondences based on relations between multiple objects relative to correspondences based on overlap of attributes between individual objects. Anxiety was induced in one condition by a (...) stressful speeded subtraction task administered prior to the analogy task. Anxious participants produced fewer relational responses and more attribute responses than did non-anxious participants, both in the absence of explicit instructions to find relational mappings (Experiment 1) and after receiving such instructions (Experiment 2). The findings support the postulated links among anxiety, working memory, and the ability to perform complex analogical mapping. (shrink)