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Volume 30, 2013
Concepts - Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

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Displaying: 1-20 of 22 documents

concepts, sense, and ontology
1. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Carlo Penco What Happened to the Sense of a Concept-Word?
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In this paper I shall outline a short history of the ideas concerning sense and reference of a concept-word from Frege to model theoretic semantics. I claim that, contrary to what is normally supposed, a procedural view of sense may be compatible with model theoretic semantics, especially in dealing with problems at the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. A first paragraph on the paradox of the concept horse will clarify the attitude concerning the history of ideas that I assume in this paper. In the second paragraph I will discuss some misunderstandings in the shift from the sense/reference distinction in Frege to the intension/extension distinction in model theoretic semantics. In the third I will show how a particular interpretation of the Fregean sense of a concept word (and of cognitive sense in general) may be of interest for model theoretic semantics.
2. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Jacob Beck Sense, Mentalese, and Ontology
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Modes of presentation are often posited to accommodate Frege’s puzzle. Philosophers differ, however, in whether they follow Frege in identifying modes of presentation with Fregean senses, or instead take them to be formally individuated symbols of “Mentalese”. Building on Fodor (1990; 1998), Margolis and Laurence (2007) defend the latter view by arguing that the mind-independence of Fregean senses renders them ontologically suspect in a way that Mentalese symbols are not. This paper shows how Fregeans can withstand this objection. Along the way, a clearer understanding emerges of what senses must be to serve as an ontologically benign alternative to symbols of Mentalese.
3. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Maria Cristina Amoretti Concepts Within the Model of Triangulation
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In Davidson’s opinion, the model of triangulation, which is a situation where two or more sufficiently similar interacting creatures respond to one another within a shared external environment, can give explanation to how concepts and mental contents are acquired and also clarify their very nature. In this paper, I will explore the model of triangulation, its various levels, and its specific role in concept acquisition. I will then assess the plausibility of Davidson’s account and suggest a few possible amendments to the model of triangulation, in order to make it effective in explaining the process of concept acquisition. Finally, I will argue that the model of triangulation cannot be disconnected from holism and will briefly sketch some consequences of this claim.
4. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Ingo Brigandt A Critique of David Chalmers’ and Frank Jackson’s Account of Concepts
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David Chalmers and Frank Jackson have promoted a strong program of conceptual analysis, which accords a significant philosophical role to the a priori analysis of (empirical) concepts. They found this methodological program on an account of concepts using two-dimensional semantics. This paper argues that Chalmers and Jackson’s account of concepts, and the related approach by David Braddon-Mitchell, is inadequate for natural kind concepts as found in biology. Two-dimensional semantics is metaphysically faulty as an account of the nature of concepts and concept possession. It is also methodologically flawed as a guideline for how to study scientific concepts. Proponents of two-dimensional semantics are criticized for not taking seriously semantic variation between persons and for failing to adequately account for the rationality of semantic change. I suggest a more pragmatic approach to natural kind term meaning, arguing that the epistemic goal pursued by a term’s use is an additional semantic property.
5. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Agustin Vicente, Fernando Martinez-Manrique The Influence of Language on Conceptualization: Three Views
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Different languages carve the world in different categories. They also encode events in differ­ent ways, conventionalize different metaphorical mappings, and differ in their rule-based metonymies and patterns of meaning extensions. A long-standing, and controversial, ques­tion is whether this variability in the languages generates a corresponding variability in the conceptual structure of the speakers of those languages. Here we will present and discuss three interesting general proposals by focusing on representative authors of such proposals. The proposals are the following: first, that the effect of language in conceptualization is general and deep; second, that the effect is local, transient, shallow and easily revisable; and third, that there is no proper effect of language on conceptualization, although there is surely some cognitive impact of language: many conceptual tasks engage language one way or another.
representations, contents, and brain
6. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Sofia Miguens Views of Concepts and of Philosophy of Mind—from Representationalism to Contextualism
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My main purpose in this article is to explore the connections between views of concepts and of philosophy of mind. My analysis focuses on recent work on concepts and on the conceptual-non conceptual distinction by French philosopher Jocelyn Benoist (Benoist 2005, 2010, 2011). While tracing back Benoist’s contextualist counterproposal to representationalism in the philosophy of mind to converging influences ranging from phenomenology (Husserl 1994) to philosophy of language (Travis 2008), I spell out some of the problems posed by viewing concepts as representations in a mental repository (a conception which has survived all attacks to the classic necessary and sufficient conditions view in the last half century (Murphy 2002, Prinz 2002)).
7. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Richard Manning Changes in View: Concepts in Experience
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In this paper, I assume that a satisfactory account of our thinking requires a conception of perceptual experience on which it provides reasons for judgment, and also that the Myth of the Given—the myth of episodes whose contents can provide reasons without the involve­ment of concepts—must be avoided. From these assumptions it follows that the content of perceptual experience must be conceived as concept-involving. The question I address is whether, given that it involves concepts, the content of perceptual experience is best conceived as propositional, or as non-propositional. I focus my discussion around John McDowell’s shift from the former to the latter sort of view. After explicating his new, non-propositional view, I raise inconclusive doubts as to whether the contents of experience, on that view, can really function as reasons. I then address broadly phenomenological considerations, arguing that the appearance that the non-propositional view has the upper hand here is superficial, and that in fact, there are strong phenomenological grounds for preferring a propositional view. Though these considerations hardly settle the matter, they do place the propositional view in a comparatively favorable light.
8. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Marcello Frixione Concepts and Fat Plants: Non-Classical Categories, Typicality Effects, Ecological Constraints
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During the last decades it has emerged that concepts probably do not constitute a homogeneous set of entities from a psychological point of view. Various divides can be drawn between different types of concepts. Probably, the main empirical achievement in this field has been the inadequacy of the so-called “classical view”: most concepts cannot be characterised in terms of sets of necessary and sufficient conditions; rather, they exhibit typicality effects. In this chapter I will suggest that typicality effects, far from being a symptom of some homogeneous underlying cognitive structure, are more plausibly the consequence of some “ecological constraints” acting on the mind. In other words, typicality effects could be the effect of some form of “convergent evolution” between heterogeneous mental structures. This should have important consequences on the role of the notion of “concept” itself: the status of the concept of “concept” in cognitive science should be similar to that of the concept of “fat plant” in botany, which can be of some utility in certain cases, but does not correspond to a genuine botanical kind.
9. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Joseph B. McCaffrey Concepts in the Brain: Neuroscience, Embodiment, and Categorization
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What does cognitive neuroscience contribute to our philosophical understanding of concepts? Over the past several decades, brain researchers have employed the tools of cognitive neuroscience (e.g. neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI) and neuropsychology (i.e. studying patterns of cognitive deficits resulting from brain injury) to probe the structure and func­tion of the conceptual system. The results of this effort, which are often extremely surprising, raise more questions than they resolve. Brain research has invigorated age-old philosophical debates about the nature of concepts—such as whether concepts are perceptual representations—and generated new controversies about how conceptual knowledge is organized. In this essay, I examine three debates in the neuroscience of conceptual knowledge: whether concepts are embodied or couched in amodal representations, whether conceptual knowledge is organized according to evolved categories, and whether the brain has multiple conceptual systems. My purpose is not to resolve these debates—rather, I intend to show how many of the proposed solutions fail to accommodate the diverse range of data emerging from cognitive neuroscience. I am therefore skeptical that brain data alone will resolve these issues, but remain optimistic that neuroscience has much to contribute to philosophical accounts of concepts.
recalling history: descartes, hume, reid, kant, ockham
10. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Alan Nelson Conceptual Distinctions and the Concept of Substance in Descartes
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Descartes’s interrelated theories of attributes and conceptual distinction (or rational distinc­tion) are developed. This follows Nolan (1997) in identifying substances and their attributes as they exist apart from the mind’s concepts. This resource is then used to articulate a solution to a famous problem about Descartes’s concept of substance. The key is that the concept of substance is itself to be regarded as an attribute of independently existing things.
11. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Miren Boehm The Concept of Body in Hume’s Treatise
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Hume’s views concerning the existence of body or external objects are notoriously difficult and intractable. The paper sheds light on the concept of body in Hume’s Treatise by defending three theses. First, that Hume’s fundamental tenet that the only objects that are present to the mind are perceptions must be understood as methodological, rather than metaphysical or epistemological. Second, that Hume considers legitimate the fundamental assumption of natural philosophy that through experience and empirical observation we know body. Third, that many of the contradictions and difficulties that interpreters attribute to Hume’s concept of body should be attributed instead, as Hume does, to every system of philosophy.
12. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Lewis Powell Conceiving without Concepts: Reid vs. The Way of Ideas
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Thomas Reid is notorious for rejecting the orthodox theory of conception (OTC), according to which conceiving of an object involves a mental relationship to an idea of that object. In this paper, I examine the question of what this rejection amounts to, when we limit our attention to bare conception (rather than the more widely discussed case of perception). I present some of the purported advantages of OTC, and assess whether they provide a genuine basis for preferring OTC to a Reidian alternative. I argue that Reid’s approach is no worse off than OTC at explaining intentionality of our conceptions, and suggest that OTC diverges less from Reid’s view than it would at first seem.
13. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Thomas Vinci Why the “Concept” of Spaces is not a Concept for Kant
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In the “Metaphysical Exposition” Kant argues that our representation of space is a pure intuition. Kant also claims there that “Space is not an empirical concept that has been drawn from outer experiences.” However, it is not clear how these two claims fit into the overall structure of Kant’s argument. I maintain that the second claim is a premise for the first and that Kant has an independent argument for the premise. By considering the question whether the notion that Kant calls “the general concept of spaces in general” is derived by abstraction for Kant—deciding that it is not—I arrive at a formulation of this argument. Finally, I argue that this notion is not a concept in Kant’s technical sense but something related to it he calls elsewhere “declaration” (Declarationen) (Akad. IX, 142). A Declarationen is a statement of the meaning of a general term that does not express a general concept in Kant’s precise sense. My main thesis is that the meaning of the general term “spaces” for Kant is given by a Declarationen rather than a concept.
14. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Sonja Schierbaum Ockham on Concepts of Beings
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In this paper I want to show that Ockham seeks to account for our knowledge of what there is and of what there can be in terms of the possession of a certain type of concepts. These concepts are based on a kind of singular cognition of things that are present to the subject. It should become clear that although Ockham’s sketchy account of concepts of beings in the Summa Logicae is open to various objections it is not open to objections raised by Geach against “abstractionist” accounts of concept acquisition: the point is simply that Ockham does not want to account for the correct application of concepts to things, that is, for the recognition of things as being of a certain kind in the first place.
on contemporary philosophy: paradoxes in philosophy and sociology
15. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
I. M. R. Pinheiro Note on Zeno’s Dichotomy
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We here solve one of the paradoxes of Zeno, The Dichotomy. We prove that the foundation of this paradox is the same as that of The Sorites and The Liar. Basically, the extraordinary difference between exclusively human and computer language seems to never be acknowledged by the people proposing the mentioned paradoxes. Yet, if such a difference had ever been acknowledged by them, their paradoxes would have been presented as simple allurements to illustrate scientific truths.
16. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Robert Kowalski The Epigenic Paradox within Social Development
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The paper explores the Epigenic Paradox wherein agents of development are inextricable tangled up in the social systems that they both inhabit and co-create. Furthermore, Paulo Freire had maintained that the oppressed should be self-emancipated, which generates a most perplexing paradox of development; the primacy of the individual agent or the social structure? Thus an individual or agent is momentarily able to act in ways that maintain the social structures or indeed that call their existence into question, but then has been and is subject to the influence of those very social structures. This paradox finds further expression in the concepts of identity, labeling and stigma. The latter two become substantial issues in regard to the impact that the protagonists of development can have on the marginalized. This management of stigma is further complicated by the imposed requirement on the labeled to respond to their situation and to interact with the agents of ‘benevolence’ and yet strive to avoid giving endorsement thereby to the labeling bestowed by those significant others. The link between self-emancipation and the definition of development as the promotion of autonomy and self-determination is discussed. The concept of a ‘developed’ country is becoming synonymous with a ‘democratic’ country, and ‘development’ has been supplanted by ‘democratization’. However, the true paradox of democracy is that a democracy can only be sustained in the face of alternative social configurations by the willingness of individuals to forego their individual interest in favour of the group interest.
17. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
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18. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
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19. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
On ProtoSociology
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20. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
Published Volumes
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