This paper reports the first empirical investigation of the hypothesis that epistemic appraisals form part of the structure of concepts. To date, studies of concepts have focused on the way concepts encode properties of objects and the way those features are used in categorization and in other cognitive tasks. Philosophical considerations show the importance of also considering how a thinker assesses the epistemic value of beliefs and other cognitive resources and, in particular, concepts. We demonstrate that there are multiple, reliably (...) judged, dimensions of epistemic appraisal of concepts. Four of these dimensions are accounted for by a common underlying factor capturing how well people believe they understand a concept. Further studies show how dimensions of concept appraisal relate to other aspects of concepts. First, they relate directly to the hierarchical organization of concepts, reflecting the increase in specificity from superordinate to basic and subordinate levels. Second, they predict inductive choices in category-based induction. Our results suggest that epistemic appraisals of concepts form a psychologically important yet previously overlooked aspect of the structure of concepts. These findings will be important in understanding why individuals sometimes abandon and replace certain concepts; why social groups do so, for example, during a “scientific revolution”; and how we can facilitate such changes when we engage in deliberate “conceptual engineering” for epistemic, social, and political purposes. (shrink)
This paper addresses theoretical problems arising from the vagueness of language terms, and intuitions of the vagueness of the concepts to which they refer. It is argued that the central intuitions of prototype theory are sufficient to account for both typicality phenomena and psychological intuitions about degrees of membership in vaguely defined classes. The first section explains the importance of the relation between degrees of membership and typicality (or goodness of example) in conceptual categorization. The second and third section address (...) arguments advanced by Osherson and Smith (1997), and Kamp and Partee (1995), that the two notions of degree of membership and typicality must relate to fundamentally different aspects of conceptual representations. A version of prototype theory—the Threshold Model—is proposed to counter these arguments and three possible solutions to the problems of logical selfcontradiction and tautology for vague categorizations are outlined. In the final section graded membership is related to the social construction of conceptual boundaries maintained through language use. (shrink)
To approach the many challenges involved in the notion of engineering concepts, it is important to have a clear idea of the starting point – the concepts that people use in their everyday lives, in conversations and in expressing beliefs, desires, intentions and so forth. The first Section of this chapter introduces evidence that I have accumulated over the last many years concerning the flexibility, context-dependence, and vagueness of such common concepts. The concept engineer needs to understand the structure of (...) the “raw material” with which she is working. In Section 2, I summarise some results concerning the amount of individual variation that exists within a single relatively homogenous population of individuals, both in what examples are considered most typical of a category, and in what properties are considered most central to a category (Hampton & Passanisi, 2016). The demonstration of a significant degree of reliable variation in responses to these questions, that is stable over time, illustrates the potential for conceptual engineering interventions to affect individuals’ concepts. Concepts are rarely fixed or uniformly understood in the same way. I then discuss the different ways in which concepts track the world, and I speculate about how different conceptual domains are governed by different criteria of validity or acceptability. This reflection will lead to Section 3 in which I summarise some results from recent research (Thorne, Quilty-Dunn, Smortchova, Shea, & Hampton, 2021), investigating for the first time how people view the value of different familiar concepts. Knowing how people appraise concepts will be a key to developing ideas for improving the reliability and validity of the concepts that they commonly use. A final section contains some (largely speculative) discussion about the implications of work in psychology of concepts for the project of conceptual engineering. (shrink)
If people believe that some property is true of all members of a class such as sofas, then they should also believe that the same property is true of all members of a conjunctively defined subset of that class such as uncomfortable handmade sofas. A series of experiments demonstrated a failure to observe this constraint, leading to what is termed the inverse conjunction fallacy. Not only did people often express a belief in the more general statement but not in the (...) more specific, but also when they accepted both beliefs, they were inclined to give greater confidence to the more general. It is argued that this effect underlies a number of other demonstrations of fallacious reasoning, particularly in category-based induction. Alternative accounts of the phenomenon are evaluated, and it is concluded that the effect is best interpreted in terms of intensional reasoning [Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D.. Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: the conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review, 90, 293-315.]. (shrink)
A recent study has established that thinkers reliably engage in epistemic appraisals of concepts of natural categories. Here, five studies are reported which investigated the effects of different manipulations of category learning context on appraisal of the concepts learnt. It was predicted that dimensions of concept appraisal could be affected by manipulating either procedural factors or declarative factors. While known effects of these manipulations on metacognitive judgements such as category learning judgements and confidence at test were replicated, procedural factors had (...) no reliable effects on the dimensions of concept appraisal. Effects of declarative manipulations on some forms of concept appraisal were observed. (shrink)
The modifier effect is the reduction in perceived likelihood of a generic property sentence, when the head noun is modified. We investigated the prediction that the modifier effect would be stronger for mutable than for central properties, without finding evidence for this predicted interaction over the course of five experiments. However Experiment 6, which provided a brief context for the modified concepts to lend them greater credibility, did reveal the predicted interaction. It is argued that the modifier effect arises primarily (...) from a general lack of confidence in generic statements about the typical properties of unfamiliar concepts. Neither prototype nor classical models of concept combination receive support from the phenomenon. 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Distinct systems for representing concepts as prototypes, exemplars, and theories are closely integrated in the mind, and the notion of concept is required as a framework for exploring this integration. Eliminating the term from our theories will hinder rather than promote scientific progress.
Aerts et al. provide a valuable model to capture the interactive nature of conceptual combination in conjunctions and disjunctions. The commentary provides a brief review of the interpretation of these interactions that has been offered in the literature, and argues for a closer link between the more traditional account in terms of concept intensions, and the parameters that emerge from the fitting of the Quantum Probability model.
By highlighting relations between experimental and theoretical work, this volume explores new ways of addressing one of the central challenges in the study of language and cognition. The articles bring together work by leading scholars and younger researchers in psychology, linguistics and philosophy. An introductory chapter lays out the background on concept composition, a problem that is stimulating much new research in cognitive science. Researchers in this interdisciplinary domain aim to explain how meanings of complex expressions are derived from simple (...) lexical concepts and to show how these meanings connect to concept representations. Traditionally, much of the work on concept composition has been carried out within separate disciplines, where cognitive psychologists have concentrated on concept representations, and linguists and philosophers have focused on the meaning and use of logical operators. This volume demonstrates an important change in this situation, where convergence points between these three disciplines in cognitive science are emerging and are leading to new findings and theoretical insights. This book is open access under a CC BY license. (shrink)
This article examines the role of similarity in the hybridization of concepts, focusing on hybrid products as an applied test case. Hybrid concepts found in natural language, such as singer songwriter, typically combine similar concepts, whereas dissimilar concepts rarely form hybrids. The hybridization of dissimilar concepts in products such as jogging shoe mp3 player and refrigerator TV thus poses a challenge for understanding the process of conceptual combination. It is proposed that models of conceptual combination can throw light on the (...) judged future success and desirability of hybrid products in general. The composite prototype model proposes two stages of conceptual combination. In the first stage, the concepts are aggregated into an additive hybrid, simply by forming the union of the two sets of attributes. In the second stage, any conflicting attributes are identified and resolved, often with the introduction of emergent attributes, resulting in an integrative hybrid. Across four studies that varied the similarity and type of hybrid products, similar and integrative hybrids were valued more than dissimilar and additive hybrids. Critically, though, dissimilar hybrids were also highly valued if they were integrative. Results supported the two stages proposed by the composite prototype model, and implications for other models of hybrid formation are discussed. (shrink)
ABSTRACTRecent research on moral dynamics shows that an individual's ethical mind-set moderates the impact of an initial ethical or unethical act on the likelihood of behaving ethically on a subsequent occasion. More specifically, an outcome-based mind-set facilitates Moral Balancing, whereas a rule-based mind-set facilitates Moral Consistency. The objective was to look at the evolution of moral choice across a series of scenarios, that is, to explore if these moral patterns are maintained over time. The results of three studies showed that (...) Moral Balancing is not.. (shrink)
Unless restricted to explicitly held, sharable beliefs that control and justify a person's behavior, the notion of a rule has little value as an explanatory concept. Similarity-based processing is a general characteristic of the mind-world interface where internal processes (including explicitly represented rules) act on the external world. The distinction between rules and similarity is therefore misconceived.
I consider the general problem of category conjunctions in the light of Pothos & Busemeyer (P&B)'s quantum probability (QP) account of the conjunction fallacy. I argue that their account as presented cannot capture the – the case in which a class is a better member of a conjunction A^B than it is of either A or B alone.
Externalism cannot work as a theory of concepts without explaining how we reidentify substances as being of the same kind. Yet this process implies just the level of descriptive content to which externalism seeks to deny a role in conceptual content.
In Dienes & Perner's analysis, implicitly represented knowledge differs from explicitly represented knowledge only in the attribution of properties to specific events and to self-awareness of the knower. This commentary questions whether implicit knowledge should be thought of as being represented in the same conceptual vocabulary; rather, it may involve a quite different form of representation.
Three issues are raised in this commentary. First, the mapping of semantic information into the different layers could be done in a more realistic way by using the Context layer to represent situational contexts. Second, a way to differentiate category membership information from other property information needs to be considered. Finally, the issue of modal knowledge is raised.
Consideration of color alone can give a misleading impression of the three approaches to category coordination: the nativist, empiricist and culturalist models. Empiricist models can benefit from a wider range of correlational information in the environment. Also, all three approaches may explain a set of perceptual categories within the human repertoire. Finally, a suggestion is offered for supplementing the naming game by varying the social status of agents.
Carruthers’ thesis is undermined on the one hand by examples of integration of output from domain-specific modules that are independent of language, and on the other hand by examples of linguistically represented thoughts that are unable to integrate different domain-specific knowledge into a coherent whole. I propose a more traditional role for language in thought as providing the basis for the cultural development and transmission of domain-general abstract knowledge and reasoning skills.
The inherence heuristic is too broad as a theoretical notion. The authors are at risk of applying their own heuristic in supporting itself. Nonetheless the article provides useful insight into the ways in which people overestimate the coherence and completeness of their understanding of the world.
Atran's thesis has strong implications for the doctrine of externalism in concepts (Fodor 1994). Beliefs about biological kinds may involve a degree of deference to scientific categories, but these categories are not truly scientific. They involve instead a folk view of science itself.