The plurality of concepts

Synthese 169 (1):145-173 (2009)
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Abstract

Traditionally, theories of concepts in psychology assume that concepts are a single, uniform kind of mental representation. But no single kind of representation can explain all of the empirical data for which concepts are responsible. I argue that the assumption that concepts are uniformly the same kind of mental structure is responsible for these theories’ shortcomings, and outline a pluralist theory of concepts that rejects this assumption. On pluralism, concepts should be thought of as being constituted by multiple representational kinds, with the particular kind of concept used on an occasion being determined by the context. I argue that endorsing pluralism does not lead to eliminativism about concepts as an object of scientific interest

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