Concepts

Edited by Daniel Weiskopf (Georgia State University)
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  1. Water Is and Is Not H2O.Kevin P. Tobia, George Newman & Joshua Knobe - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    The Twin Earth thought experiment invites us to consider a liquid that has all of the superficial properties associated with water (clear, potable, etc.) but has entirely different deeper causal properties (composed of “XYZ” rather than of H2O). Although this thought experiment was originally introduced to illuminate questions in the theory of reference, it has also played a crucial role in empirically informed debates within the philosophy of psychology about people’s ordinary natural kind concepts. Those debates have sought to accommodate (...)
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  2. William James on Conceptions and Private Language.Henry Jackman - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:175-193.
    William James was one of the most frequently cited authors in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, but the attention paid to James’s Principles of Psycho- logy in that work is typically explained in terms of James having ‘committed in a clear, exemplary manner, fundamental errors in the philosophy of mind.’ (Goodman 2002, p. viii.) The most notable of these ‘errors’ was James’s purported commitment to a conception of language as ‘private’. Commentators standardly treat James as committed to a conception of language as (...)
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  3. Arithmetic Judgements, First-Person Judgements and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Michele Palmira - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-18.
    The paper explores the idea that some singular judgements about the natural numbers are immune to error through misidentification by pursuing a comparison between arithmetic judgements and first-person judgements. By doing so, the first part of the paper offers a conciliatory resolution of the Coliva-Pryor dispute about so-called “de re” and “which-object” misidentification. The second part of the paper draws some lessons about what it takes to explain immunity to error through misidentification. The lessons are: First, the so-called Simple Account (...)
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  4. The Big Concepts Paper: A Defence of Hybridism.Agustín Vicente & Fernando Martínez Manrique - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):59-88.
    The renewed interest in concepts and their role in psychological theorizing is partially motivated by Machery’s claim that concepts are so heterogeneous that they have no explanatory role. Against this, pluralism argues that there is multiplicity of different concepts for any given category, while hybridism argues that a concept is constituted by a rich common representation. This article aims to advance the understanding of the hybrid view of concepts. First, we examine the main arguments against hybrid concepts and conclude that, (...)
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  5. Why and How to Naturalize Semiotic Concepts for Biosemiotics.Tommi Vehkavaara - 2002 - Sign Systems Studies 30 (1):293-312.
    Any attempt to develop biosemiotics either towards a new biological ground theory or towards a metaphysics of living nature necessitates some kind of naturalization of its semiotic concepts. Instead of standard physicalistic naturalism, a certain kind of semiotic naturalism is pursued here. The naturalized concepts are defined as referring only to the objects of our external experience. When the semiotic concepts are applied to natural phenomena in biosemiotics, there is a risk of falling into anthropomorphic errors if the semiotic concepts (...)
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  6. William James's Naturalistic Account of Concepts and His 'Rejection of Logic'.Henry Jackman - 2018 - In Philosophy of Mind in the Nineteenth Century: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 5. New York: Routledge. pp. 133-146.
    William James was one of the most controversial philosophers of the early part of the 20 century, and his apparent skepticism about logic and any robust conception of truth was often simply attributed to his endorsing mysticism and irrationality out of an overwhelming desire to make room for religion in his world-view. However, it will be argued here that James’s pessimism about logic and even truth (or at least ‘absolute’ truth), while most prominent in his later views, stem from the (...)
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Perception-Based Theories of Concepts
  1. Smell’s Puzzling Discrepancy: Gifted Discrimination, yet Pitiful Identification.Benjamin D. Young - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Humans are gifted at detecting and discriminating odors, yet we have difficulty identifying even the most prevalent everyday odors by name. This paper offers a new explanation for the puzzling discrepancy between our olfactory capacities for discrimination and identification by weaving together recent neuroscientific findings regarding the cortical connectivity of the olfactory system, the olfactory system’s proprietary semantic integration center, and recent philosophical research on the olfactory system’s compositional format of representation. The paper combines these areas of research to develop (...)
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  2. Seeing White and Wrong: Reid on the Role of Sensations in Perception, with a Focus on Color Perception.Lucas Thorpe - 2015 - In Rebecca Copenhaver & Todd Buras (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value (Mind Association Occasional Series). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 100-123.
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  3. Conceptuality of Unreflective Actions in Flow: McDowell-Dryfus Debate.Ali Far - 2015 - GSTF Journal of General Philosophy 1 (2).
    The objective of this paper is to supplement Gottlieb’s challenge to Dryfus who claims that concepts are not operative in expert’s unreflective actions. First, concepts that an agent develops over time with practice, starting from the stage of novelty, become deeply rooted and persist through his expertise stage, according to common sense. It is unlikely that such rooted concepts become inoperative just when it is time for the agent to put them to use during the time that he is in (...)
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  4. Nonconceptual Epicycles.Sonia Sedivy - 2006 - European Review of Philosophy 6:33-66.
    This paper argues that perception is a mode of engagement with individuals and their determinate properties. Perceptual content involves determinate properties in a way that relies on our conceptual capacities no less than on the properties. The “richness” of perceptual experience is explained as a distinctive individual and property involving content. This position is developed in three steps: (i) novel phenomenological description of lived experience; (ii) detailed reconstruction of Gareth Evans’ proposal that we are capable of genuinely singular thought that (...)
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  5. On Imagism About Phenomenal Thought.Pär Sundström - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (1):43-95.
    Imagism about Phenomenal Thought is (roughly) the view that there is some concept *Q* (for some sensory quality Q) that we can employ only while we experience the quality Q. I believe this view is theoretically significant, is or can be made intuitively appealing, and is explicitly or implicitly accepted by many contemporary philosophers However, there is no good reason to accept it. Or so I argue.
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  6. Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [REVIEW]Robert Briscoe - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):902-096.
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  7. Building on Sellars: Concept Formation and Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Tanya Kelley - 2008 - Metascience 17 (2):257-259.
    Harold Brown has written an ambitious work, which traces the formation of concepts in individuals and cultures, examines case studies of concepts in calculus, mathematics, biology and related fields, summarises important philosophical works on the theory of concepts, and seeks to reconcile scientific realism with conceptual change. Brown considers himself a scientific realist but concedes that this very label is one that depends on a long history of concepts that came before, and may indeed be superseded as conceptual change continues. (...)
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  8. The Relevance of Nonsymbolic Cognition to Husserl's Fifth Meditation.Albert A. Johnstone - 1999 - Philosophy Today 43 (supplement):88-98.
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  9. Abstraction and the Origin of General Ideas.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2012 - Philosophers' Imprint 12:1-22.
    Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space (...)
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  10. Embodied Cognition: Grounded Until Further Notice?Cory Wright - 2008 - British Journal of Psychology 99:157-164.
    Embodied Cognition is the kind of view that is all trees, no forest. Mounting experimental evidence gives it momentum in fleshing out the theoretical problems inherent in Cognitivists’ separation of mind and body. But the more its proponents compile such evidence, the more the fundamental concepts of Embodied Cognition remain in the dark. This conundrum is nicely exemplified by Pecher and Zwaan’s book, Grounding Cognition, which is a programmatic attempt to rally together an array of empirical results and linguistic data, (...)
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  11. Qualia Qua Qualitons: Mental Qualities as Abstract Particulars.Hilan Bensusan & Eros Moreira De Carvalho - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):155-163.
    In this paper we advocate the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. The main advantage of the thesis is that we can accept both the Wittgensteinian and Sellarsian assault on the given and the claim that only subjective and private states can do justice to the qualitative character of experience. We hint that if we take qualia to be tropes, we dissolve the problem of inverted qualia. We develop an account of sensory concept acquisition that (...)
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  12. Content, Embodiment, and Objectivity: The Theory of Cognitive Trails.Adrian Cussins - 1992 - Mind 101 (404):651-88.
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Inferential Theories of Concepts
  1. What Frege Asked Alex the Parrot: Inferentialism, Number Concepts, and Animal Cognition.Erik Nelson - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    While there has been significant philosophical debate on whether nonlinguistic animals can possess conceptual capabilities, less time has been devoted to considering 'talking' animals, such as parrots. When they are discussed, their capabilities are often downplayed as mere mimicry. The most explicit philosophical example of this can be seen in Brandom's frequent comparisons of parrots and thermostats. Brandom argues that because parrots (like thermostats) cannot grasp the implicit inferential connections between concepts, their vocal articulations do not actually have any conceptual (...)
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  2. Dual Character Concepts in Social Cognition: Commitments and the Normative Dimension of Conceptual Representation.Del Pinal Guillermo & Reuter Kevin - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S3):477–501.
    The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Background information can affect (...)
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  3. Review of Making It Explicit. [REVIEW]Susanna Schellenberg - 1998 - Philosopher Literatureanzeiger 51:187-195.
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  4. Concepts: Fodor's Little Semantic BBs of Thought - A Critical Look at Fodor's Theory of Concepts -.Eric Dietrich - 2001 - J. Of Experimental and Theoretical AI 13 (2):89-94.
    I find it interesting that AI researchers don't use concepts very often in their theorizing. No doubt they feel no pressure to. This is because most AI researchers do use representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment, and basically all we know about concepts is that they are representations which allow a system to chunk up its environment.
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  5. How to Use a Concept You Reject.Mark McCullagh - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):293-319.
    Inferentialist accounts of concept possession are often supported by examples in which rejection of some inference seems to amount to rejection of some concept, with the apparently implausible consequence that anyone who rejects the inference cannot so much as understand those who use the concept. This consequence can be avoided by distinguishing conditions necessary for direct uses of a concept (to describe the non-cognitive world) from conditions necessary for content-specifying uses (to specify what someone thinks or says). I consider how (...)
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  6. Blueprint for a Science of Mind: A Critical Notice of Christopher Peacocke's a Study of Concepts.Kirk A. Ludwig - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (4):469-491.
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  7. Begriff, Gehalt, Folgerung.Susanna Schellenberg - 2000 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 48 (5):780-789.
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Prototype and Exemplar Theories of Concepts
  1. Genealogy and Knowledge-First Epistemology: A Mismatch?Matthieu Queloz - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):100-120.
    This paper examines three reasons to think that Craig's genealogy of the concept of knowledge is incompatible with knowledge-first epistemology and finds that far from being incompatible with it, the genealogy lends succour to it. This reconciliation turns on two ideas. First, the genealogy is not history, but a dynamic model of needs. Secondly, by recognizing the continuity of Craig's genealogy with Williams's genealogy of truthfulness, we can see that while both genealogies start out from specific needs explaining what drives (...)
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  2. Nietzsche’s Polychrome Exemplarism.Mark Alfano - 2018 - Ethics and Politics 2:45-64.
    In this paper, I develop an account of Nietzschean exemplarism. Drawing on my previous work, I argue that an agent’s instincts and other drives constitute her psychological type. In this framework, a drive counts as a virtue to the extent that it is well-calibrated with the rest of the agent’s psychic economy and meets with sentiments of approbation from the agent’s community. Different virtues are fitting for different types, and different types elicit different discrete emotions in people with fine-tuned affective (...)
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  3. Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias.Guillermo Del Pinal & Shannon Spaulding - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):95-111.
    How are biases encoded in our representations of social categories? Philosophical and empirical discussions of implicit bias overwhelmingly focus on salient or statistical associations between target features and representations of social categories. These are the sorts of associations probed by the Implicit Association Test and various priming tasks. In this paper, we argue that these discussions systematically overlook an alternative way in which biases are encoded, that is, in the dependency networks that are part of our representations of social categories. (...)
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  4. Ontology and Geographic Objects: An Empirical Study of Cognitive Categorization.David M. Mark, Barry Smith & Barbara Tversky - 1999 - In C. Freksa & David M. Mark (eds.), Spatial Information Theory. Cognitive and Computational Foundations of Geographic Information Science (Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1661). pp. 283-298.
    Cognitive categories in the geographic realm appear to manifest certain special features as contrasted with categories for objects at surveyable scales. We have argued that these features reflect specific ontological characteristics of geographic objects. This paper presents hypotheses as to the nature of the features mentioned, reviews previous empirical work on geographic categories, and presents the results of pilot experiments that used English-speaking subjects to test our hypotheses. Our experiments show geographic categories to be similar to their non-geographic counterparts in (...)
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  5. Normality: Part Descriptive, Part Prescriptive.Adam Bear & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognition 167:25-37.
    People’s beliefs about normality play an important role in many aspects of cognition and life (e.g., causal cognition, linguistic semantics, cooperative behavior). But how do people determine what sorts of things are normal in the first place? Past research has studied both people’s representations of statistical norms (e.g., the average) and their representations of prescriptive norms (e.g., the ideal). Four studies suggest that people’s notion of normality incorporates both of these types of norms. In particular, people’s representations of what is (...)
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  6. Dual Character Concepts in Social Cognition: Commitments and the Normative Dimension of Conceptual Representation.Del Pinal Guillermo & Reuter Kevin - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S3):477–501.
    The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Background information can affect (...)
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  7. Prototypes as Compositional Components of Concepts.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2899–2927.
    The aim of this paper is to reconcile two claims that have long been thought to be incompatible: that we compositionally determine the meaning of complex expressions from the meaning of their parts, and that prototypes are components of the meaning of lexical terms such as fish, red, and gun. Hypotheses and are independently plausible, but most researchers think that reconciling them is a difficult, if not hopeless task. In particular, most linguists and philosophers agree that is not negotiable; so (...)
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  8. Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [REVIEW]Robert Briscoe - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):902-096.
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Theory-Based Theories of Concepts
  1. An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs.Eleonore Neufeld - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of (...)
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  2. Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias.Guillermo Del Pinal & Shannon Spaulding - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):95-111.
    How are biases encoded in our representations of social categories? Philosophical and empirical discussions of implicit bias overwhelmingly focus on salient or statistical associations between target features and representations of social categories. These are the sorts of associations probed by the Implicit Association Test and various priming tasks. In this paper, we argue that these discussions systematically overlook an alternative way in which biases are encoded, that is, in the dependency networks that are part of our representations of social categories. (...)
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  3. Dual Character Concepts in Social Cognition: Commitments and the Normative Dimension of Conceptual Representation.Del Pinal Guillermo & Reuter Kevin - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S3):477–501.
    The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Background information can affect (...)
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  4. Scientific Concepts and Their Changes.Vladimir Kuznetsov - 2005 - In International scientific conference ' Day of Science on Philosophy Faculty - 2005' (Міжнар. наук. конф. “Дні науки філософського факультету-2005”. Philosophy Faculty of the National Kyiv University. pp. 68-69.
    The changes of concepts are described in the frame of concept triplet model. -/- .
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  5. Concepts and Reference: Defending a Dual Theory of Natural Kind Concepts.Jussi Jylkkä - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Turku
    In this thesis I argue that the psychological study of concepts and categorisation, and the philosophical study of reference are deeply intertwined. I propose that semantic intuitions are a variety of categorisation judgements, determined by concepts, and that because of this, concepts determine reference. I defend a dual theory of natural kind concepts, according to which natural kind concepts have distinct semantic cores and non-semantic identification procedures. Drawing on psychological essentialism, I suggest that the cores consist of externalistic placeholder essence (...)
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Atomist Theories of Concepts
  1. Prototypes as Compositional Components of Concepts.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2899–2927.
    The aim of this paper is to reconcile two claims that have long been thought to be incompatible: that we compositionally determine the meaning of complex expressions from the meaning of their parts, and that prototypes are components of the meaning of lexical terms such as fish, red, and gun. Hypotheses and are independently plausible, but most researchers think that reconciling them is a difficult, if not hopeless task. In particular, most linguists and philosophers agree that is not negotiable; so (...)
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  2. Concepts and Reference: Defending a Dual Theory of Natural Kind Concepts.Jussi Jylkkä - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Turku
    In this thesis I argue that the psychological study of concepts and categorisation, and the philosophical study of reference are deeply intertwined. I propose that semantic intuitions are a variety of categorisation judgements, determined by concepts, and that because of this, concepts determine reference. I defend a dual theory of natural kind concepts, according to which natural kind concepts have distinct semantic cores and non-semantic identification procedures. Drawing on psychological essentialism, I suggest that the cores consist of externalistic placeholder essence (...)
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  3. Unconscious Conceiving and Leibniz's Argument for Primitive Concepts.Paul Lodge & Stephen Puryear - 2006 - Studia Leibnitiana 38 (2):177-196.
    In a recent paper, Dennis Plaisted examines an important argument that Leibniz gives for the existence of primitive concepts. After sketching a natural reading of this argument, Plaisted observes that the argument appears to imply something clearly inconsistent with Leibniz’s other views. To save Leibniz from contradiction, Plaisted offers a revision. However, his account faces a number of serious difficulties and therefore does not successfully eliminate the inconsistency. We explain these difficulties and defend a more plausible alternative. In the process, (...)
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  4. The Fodorian Fallacy.François Recanati - 2002 - Analysis 62 (4):285-89.
    In recent years Fodor has repeatedly argued that nothing epistemic can be essential to, or constitutive of, any concept. This holds in virtue of a constraint which Fodor dubs the Compositionality Constraint. I show that Fodor's argument is fallacious because it rests on an ambiguity.
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Theories of Concepts, Misc
  1. Concept Designation.Arvid Båve - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (4).
    The paper proposes a way for adherents of Fregean, structured propositions to designate propositions (and other complex senses/concepts), using a special kind of functor. Investigating some formulations by Peacocke, I highlight certain problems that arise when we try to quantify over propositional constituents while referring to propositions using “that”-clauses (I also consider some other kinds of proposition designator). With the functor notation, by contrast, we can quantify over senses/concepts with ordinary quantifiers and speak without further ado about how they can (...)
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  2. Knowledge Transmission and the Internalism-Externalism Debate About Content.Casey Woodling - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (4):1851-1861.
    Sanford Goldberg argues for Content Externalism by drawing our attention to the extent to which an individual’s concepts depend on the concepts of others. More specifically, he focuses on cases that involve knowledge transmission between experts and non-experts to make his point. In this paper, I argue that the content internalist cannot only plausibly respond to his argument but that Content Internalism offers a more plausible account of intentional content with regard to knowledge transmission than does Content Externalism.
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  3. TRUTH: A Concept Unlike Any Other.Jamin Asay - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    This paper explores the nature of the concept of truth. It does not offer an analysis or definition of truth, or an account of how it relates to other concepts. Instead, it explores what sort of concept truth is by considering what sorts of thoughts it enables us to think. My conclusion is that truth is a part of each and every propositional thought. The concept of truth is therefore best thought of as the ability to token propositional thoughts. I (...)
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  4. A Probabilistic Framework for Analysing the Compositionality of Conceptual Combinations.Peter Bruza, Kirsty Kitto, Brentyn Ramm & Laurianne Sitbon - 2015 - Journal of Mathematical Psychology 67:26-38.
    Conceptual combination performs a fundamental role in creating the broad range of compound phrases utilised in everyday language. This article provides a novel probabilistic framework for assessing whether the semantics of conceptual combinations are compositional, and so can be considered as a function of the semantics of the constituent concepts, or not. While the systematicity and productivity of language provide a strong argument in favor of assuming compositionality, this very assumption is still regularly questioned in both cognitive science and philosophy. (...)
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  5. On the Triplet Frame for Concept Analysis.Vladimir Kuznetsov - 1999 - Theoria 14 (1):39-62.
    The paper has two objectives: to introduce the fundamentals of a triplet model of a concept, and to show that the main concept models may be structurally treated as its partial cases. The triplet model considers a concept as a mental representation and characterizes it from three interrelated perspectives. The first deals with objects (and their attributes of various orders) subsumed under a concept. The second focuses on representing structures that depict objects and their attributes in some intelligent system. The (...)
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  6. Systematicity and Conceptual Pluralism.Fernando Martinez-Manrique - 2014 - In Paco Calvo John Symons (ed.), The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn's Systematicity Challenge. MIT Press. pp. 305-334.
    The systematicity argument only challenges connectionism if systematicity is a general property of cognition. I examine this thesis in terms of properties of concepts. First, I propose that Evans's Generality Constraint only applies to attributions of belief. Then I defend a variety of conceptual pluralism, arguing that concepts share two fundamental properties related to centrality and belief-attribution, and contending that there are two kinds of concepts that differ in their compositional properties. Finally, I rely on Dual Systems Theory and on (...)
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  7. Fuzzy Concepts and Relations between Them.Vladimir Kuznetsov - 2006 - In М Попович (ed.), Problems of Mentality Theory. pp. 163-197.
    It is proposed to analyze fuzzy concepts and relations between them in the frame of triplet concept modeling. Fuzzy concepts are introduced by means of the so-called fuzzification of dichotomous concepts. The cognitive and psychological aspects of concept possession are separated and studied.
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  8. A concept and its structures. Methodological analysis.Vladimir Kuznetsov (ed.) - 1997 - Institute of philosophy.
    The triplet model treats a concept as complex structure that expresses three kinds of information. The first is about entities subsumed under a concept,their properties and relations. The second is about means and ways of representing the first information in intelligent systems. The third is about linkage between the first and second ones and methods of its constructing. The application of triplet models to generalization and development of concept models in philosophy, logic, cognitive psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, artificial intelligence has (...)
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