The return of concept empiricism

In H. Cohen & C. Leferbvre (eds.), Categorization and Cognitive Science. Elsevier (2005)
Jesse J. Prinz
CUNY Graduate Center
In this chapter, I outline and defend a version of concept empiricism. The theory has four central tenets: Concepts represent categories by reliable causal relations to category instances; conceptual representations of category vary from occasion to occasion; these representations are perceptually based; and these representations are all learned, not innate. The last two tenets on this list have been central to empiricism historically, and the first two have been developed in more recent years. I look at each in turn, and then I discuss the most obvious objection to empiricism. According to that objection, some concepts cannot be perceptually based because they represent things that are abstract, and hence unperceivable. I discuss two standard examples: democracy and moral badness. I argue that both can be explained using resources available to the empiricist
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
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: 36,003
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Embodying the Mind by Extending It.Pierre Jacob - 2012 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (1):33-51.
Learning, Concept Acquisition and Psychological Essentialism.M. J. Cain - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):577-598.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Empirical Concepts and the Content of Experience.Hannah Ginsborg - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (3):349-372.
The Notion of a Recognitional Concept and Other Confusions.Malte Dahlgrün - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):139 - 160.
Concept Empiricism and the Vehicles of Thought.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2007 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 9-10):156-183.
Sensible Ideas: A Reply to Sarnecki and Markman and Stilwell.Jesse J. Prinz - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):419-430.
The Multimedia Mnd: An Analysis of Prinz on Concepts.John Sarnecki - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (3):403-18.
Can Concept Empiricism Forestall Eliminativism?Jesse Prinz - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (5):612-621.
Proxytypes and Linguistic Nativism.John M. Collins - 2006 - Synthese 153 (1):69-104.
Concept Empiricism, Content, and Compositionality.Collin Rice - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):567-583.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
151 ( #40,123 of 2,293,920 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #255,053 of 2,293,920 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature