First thoughts

Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):251 – 268 (2008)
Jean Mandler proposes an original and richly detailed theory of how concepts relate to sensory and motor capacities. I focus on her claims about conceptual representations and the processes that produce them. On her view, concepts are declarative representations of object kind information. First, I argue that since sensorimotor representations may be declarative, there is no bar to percepts being constituents of concepts. Second, I suggest that concepts track kinds and other categories not by representing kind information per se, but rather by being subject to the appropriate sort of inferential dispositions. These dispositions themselves may apply equally to perceptual and non-perceptual representations. Third, I argue that Mandler's proposed redescriptive mechanism for producing conceptual primitives can be viewed as a kind of Fodorian triggering device. Hence there may be less distance between her view and Fodor's than either one has supposed. I suggest that redescription needs to be supplemented with several other kinds of more flexible and open-ended concept learning mechanisms. Finally, I briefly sketch the view of conceptual development that results from adopting these proposals and contrast it with Mandler's
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DOI 10.1080/09515080801980211
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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