How to use a concept you reject

Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):293-319 (2011)
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Abstract

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 this claim about the non-uniformity of concept possession accords with different theories of attitude ascription and with claims about reverse compositionality. Surprisingly little stands in the way of the claim that someone unable to use a concept directly can nevertheless satisfy conditions for using it in a content-specifying thought

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Mark McCullagh
University of Guelph

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