Building on Sellars: Concept Formation and Scientific Realism [Book Review]

Metascience 17 (2):257-259 (2008)
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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but concedes that this very label is one that depends on a long history of concepts that came before, and may indeed be superseded as conceptual change continues. Yet, concepts are not strictly relative to their contexts. ‘‘The usual claim is that truth is relative – period; and this claim assumes a non-relativized truth-concept’’ (p. 309). Crucial to his goal of developing a theory of concepts is how Brown reconciles conceptual change with objectivity.

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Tanya Kelley, PhD
University of Missouri, Kansas City


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