A critique of David Chalmers' and Frank Jackson's account of concepts

ProtoSociology 30:63–88 (2013)
Authors
Ingo Brigandt
University of Alberta
Abstract
David Chalmers and Frank Jackson have promoted a strong program of conceptual analysis, which accords a significant philosophical role to the a priori analysis of concepts. They found this methodological program on an account of concepts using two-dimensional semantics. This paper argues that Chalmers and Jackson’s account of concepts, and the related approach by David Braddon-Mitchell, is inadequate for natural kind concepts as found in biology. Two-dimensional semantics is metaphysically faulty as an account of the nature of concepts and concept possession. It is also methodologically flawed as a guideline for how to study scientific concepts. Proponents of two-dimensional semantics are criticized for not taking seriously semantic variation between persons and for failing to adequately account for the rationality of semantic change. I suggest a more pragmatic approach to natural kind term meaning, arguing that the epistemic goal pursued by a term’s use is an additional semantic property.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social Science
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ISBN(s) 1434-4319
DOI 10.5840/protosociology2013304
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