Thick Concepts

Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press (2013)
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Abstract

There seems to be an interesting difference between judging someone to be good and judging them to be kind. Both judgements are typically positive, but the latter seems to offer more description of the person: we get a slightly more specific sense of what they are like. Very general evaluative concepts are referred to as thin concepts, whilst more specific ones are termed thick concepts. Examples of the former include good, bad, right and wrong, whilst there are countless examples of the latter: brave, rude, gracious, wicked, sympathetic, mean. Marking this distinction opens up some interesting questions. How do the descriptive and evaluative elements of thick concepts combine? Are these elements separable in the first place? Is there a sharp division between thin and thick concepts? Can we mark interesting further distinctions between how thick ethical concepts work and how their aesthetic and epistemic counterparts work? How, if at all, are thick and thin concepts related to reasons and action?.These questions, and others, touch on some of the deepest philosophical issues about the evaluative and normative. They force us to think hard about the place of the evaluative in a (seemingly) nonevaluative world, and they also raise fascinating issues about how language works.This volume of twelve papers explores the phenomenon of thin and thick concepts. They are accompanied by a large introduction that offers an overview of the current and historic field.Authors: Simon Blackburn, Jonathan Dancy, Timothy Chappell, Matti Eklund, Edward Harcourt and Alan Thomas, Simon Kirchin, Debbie Roberts, Michael Smith, Valerie Tiberius, Pekka Väyrynen Eric Wiland, and Nick Zangwill.

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Author's Profile

Simon Kirchin
University of Kent

Citations of this work

Can the Science of Well-Being Be Objective?Anna Alexandrova - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):421-445.
Thick Concepts.Debbie Roberts - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (8):677-688.
The Points of Concepts: Their Types, Tensions, and Connections.Matthieu Queloz - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (8):1122-1145.
Democratising Measurement: or Why Thick Concepts Call for Coproduction.Anna Alexandrova & Mark Fabian - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-23.
Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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