Compositionality and the Modelling of Complex Concepts

Minds and Machines 8 (4):479-507 (1998)
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The nature of complex concepts has important implications for the computational modelling of the mind, as well as for the cognitive science of concepts. This paper outlines the way in which RVC – a Relational View of Concepts – accommodates a range of complex concepts, cases which have been argued to be non-compositional. RVC attempts to integrate a number of psychological, linguistic and psycholinguistic considerations with the situation-theoretic view that information-carrying relations hold only relative to background situations. The central tenet of RVC is that the content of concepts varies systematically with perspective. The analysis of complex concepts indicates that compositionality too should be considered to be sensitive to perspective. Such a view accords with concepts and mental states being situated and the implications for theories of concepts and for computational models of the mind are discussed.



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