Mind and Language 36 (1):158-185 (2021)

Jake Quilty-Dunn
Washington University in St. Louis
Most theories of concepts take concepts to be structured bodies of information used in categorization and inference. This paper argues for a version of atomism, on which concepts are unstructured symbols. However, traditional Fodorian atomism is falsified by polysemy and fails to provide an account of how concepts figure in cognition. This paper argues that concepts are generative pointers, that is, unstructured symbols that point to memory locations where cognitively useful bodies of information are stored and can be deployed to resolve polysemy. The notion of generative pointers allows for unresolved ambiguity in thought and provides a basis for conceptual engineering.
Keywords atomism, compositionality, concepts, essentialism, memory, pointers, polysemy
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DOI 10.1111/mila.12328
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References found in this work BETA

Are women adult human females?Alex Byrne - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3783-3803.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1981 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.

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Citations of this work BETA

Polysemy: Pragmatics and Sense Conventions.Robyn Carston - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (1):108-133.
A Hole in the Box and a Pain in the Mouth.Laurenz C. Casser & Henry Ian Schiller - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):pqaa091.

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Polysemy: A Problem of Definition.Cliff Goddard - 2000 - In Yael Ravin & Claudia Leacock (eds.), Polysemy: Theoretical and Computational Approaches. Oxford University Press. pp. 129--151.
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