The ontology of concepts: Abstract objects or mental representations?

Noûs 41 (4):561-593 (2007)

Authors
Eric Margolis
University of British Columbia
Abstract
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 argue that powerful motivations have been offered in support of both frameworks. This suggests the possibility of combining the two. Unlike Frege, we hold that the resulting position is perfectly coherent and well worth considering. Nonetheless, we argue that it should be rejected along with the view that concepts are abstract objects.
Keywords concepts  mental representations  senses  Frege
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2007.00663.x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,000
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
The Language Instinct.Steven Pinker - 1995 - Harper Perennial.

View all 66 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Moral Responsibility for Concepts.Rachel Fredericks - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):1381-1397.
The Nature of Unsymbolized Thinking.Agustin Vicente & Fernando Martinez-Manrique - 2016 - Philosophical Explorations 19 (2):173-187.

View all 26 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Composite Objects and the Abstract/Concrete Distinction.Daniel A. Kaufman - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:215-238.
Concepts and Cognitive Science.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press. pp. 3-81.
Are Concepts Mental Representations or Abstracta?John Sutton - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):89-108.
Concepts.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Reid’s Answer to Abstract Ideas.Susan V. Castagnetto - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:39-60.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
385 ( #11,992 of 2,236,147 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
22 ( #29,121 of 2,236,147 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature