Smell’s puzzling discrepancy: gifted discrimination, yet pitiful identification.

Mind and Language (forthcoming)
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Abstract
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 the comprehensive explanation that we cannot readily deploy conceptual resources in naming odorants, because of an incompatibility of compositional formats employed by our conceptual semantic resources and the olfactory system.
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Archival date: 2018-12-23
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