Conceptual Spaces, Generalisation Probabilities and Perceptual Categorisation

In Peter Gärdenfors, Antti Hautamäki, Frank Zenker & Mauri Kaipainen (eds.), Conceptual Spaces: Elaborations and Applications. Springer Verlag. pp. 7-28 (2019)
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Shepard’s (1987) universal law of generalisation (ULG) illustrates that an invariant gradient of generalisation across species and across stimuli conditions can be obtained by mapping the probability of a generalisation response onto the representations of similarity between individual stimuli. Tenenbaum and Griffiths (2001) Bayesian account of generalisation expands ULG towards generalisation from multiple examples. Though the Bayesian model starts from Shepard’s account it refrains from any commitment to the notion of psychological similarity to explain categorisation. This chapter presents the conceptual spaces theory (Gärdenfors 2000, 2014) as a mediator between Shepard’s and Tenenbaum & Griffiths’ conflicting views on the role of psychological similarity for a successful model of categorisation. It suggests that the conceptual spaces theory can help to improve the Bayesian model while finding an explanatory role for psychological similarity.

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Nina Poth
Humboldt University, Berlin


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