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41. 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.
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42. 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.
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43. 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.
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44. 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.
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45. 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.
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46. 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.
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47. 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.
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48. ProtoSociology: Volume > 30
I. M. R. Pinheiro Orcid-ID 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.
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49. 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.
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50. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Ernest Lepore, Yi Jiang Introduction
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51. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Jiang Yi The Relation of Language to Value
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How does language relate to value? Why do we concern with the relation up to now? I will analyze the background of increasing interests in the relation of language to value in contemporary philosophy of language, provided with ideas that language has meaning with intention which determines the way of acts in relation with values in societies, and that, when we consider the value in language, we are searching for consequences of our speech acts for final goals of language.
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52. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Chen Bo Refutation of the Semantic Argument against Descriptivism
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There are two problematic assumptions in Kripke’s semantic argument against descriptiv­ism. Assumption 1 is that the referential relation between a name and its bearer is only a metaphysical relation between language and the world; it has nothing to do with our public linguistic practice. Assumption 2 is that if name N has its meaning and the meaning is given by one description or a cluster of descriptions, the description(s) should supply the necessary and sufficient condition for determining what N designates; it is possible for us to find out such a condition for fixing the referent of N. Emphasizing the sociality, conventionality and historicity of language and meaning, this paper criticizes Assumption 1 and Assumption 2, and concludes that Kripke’s semantic argument fails.
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53. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Zhu Zhifang Values Reduced to Facts: Naturalism without Fallacy
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Grammatically, “good” is a one-place predicate. Many authors were misled by the surface grammar and thus mistook good as a simple property. Pragmatically good is a relational property if it is somehow a property. As a term for relational property, “good” captures a particular type of relations between events and the needs of persons. Therefore, all statements in which “good” occurs are statements of facts. Moral terms such as “morally right”, “morally good”, “ought to do” can be adequately defined in terms of “good” and thus all statements of values are at final analysis statements of facts. There is no dichotomy between fact and value, and the question of derivation of an ought from an is is nonsensical. Moore misunderstood the property good or the predicate “good” and thus his objection to naturalistic approach to goodness is pointless. Naturalism concerning goodness commits no fallacy.
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54. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Samuel Cumming Semantics for Nominalists
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Nominalists should give up on one of Frege’s semantic tenets, and adopt an account on which the truth-value of a sentence depends on the senses, rather than the referents, of its syntactic constituents. That way, sentences like ‘2+2=4’ and ‘Hamlet did not exist’ might be true, without components like ‘2’ and ‘Hamlet’ having a referent.
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55. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Fei YuGuo Compositionality and Understanding
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Contemporary debates on the principle of compositionality provoke a perplexing problem about its import on natural language. Whether the principle of compositionality makes any substantial constraints on the meaningfulness of natural language has an indeterminate answer. In this paper, I try to argue against the principle of compositionality for natural language by considering its significance for understanding. Part one is a general survey of the principle of compositionality pertaining to the meaning of a complex expression; and in part two, I will focus on the issue of understanding a sentence or more complex expression, pointing out that principle of compositionality is neither sufficient nor necessary for understanding, even though compositionality is true for natural language, it is trivial and useless; the final part aims to criticize the principle of compositionality from its underspecification of meaning, which is at odds with our general idea of the representational feature of natural language and the hypothesis of isomorphism among mind, language and reality.
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56. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Adam Sennet Semantic Minimalism and Presupposition
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This paper is about the interface between two phenomena—context sensitivity and pre­supposition. I argue that favored competing treatments of context sensitivity are incompatible with the received view about presupposition triggering. In consequence, I will urge a reconsideration of a much-maligned view about how best to represent context s ensitivity.
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57. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Peter Ludlow Norms of Word Meaning Litigation
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In this paper I examine cases in which we attach different meanings to words and in which we litigate or argue about the best way of defining the term in dispute. I reject the idea that this is just a matter of imposing our will on our interlocutors – I think that the process of litigation is normative. To some extent recent work in the theory of argumentation has shed considerable light on this process, but we will need to retrofit that work for the kinds of considerations we are engaged with here. I’ll begin in Section 1, with some important terminological preliminaries. Then in Section 2, I will offer a general description of how we come to notice that there are disputes about meaning and how we engage the meaning variance once it is recognized. In section 3 I’ll then take up a case that is relatively less controversial – the definition of ‘planet’ – and use it to construct a model for our meaning litigation works. Finally, in section 4 I’ll then turn to more contentious and substantial issues – the definition of ‘rape’ and the definition of ‘person’ and begin exploring how disputes about the meanings of those terms can be normative and fail to be normative.
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58. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Ernie Lepore, Matthew Stone Philosophical Investigations into Figurative Speech Metaphor and Irony
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This paper surveys rich and important phenomena in language use that theorists study from a wide range of perspectives. And according to us, there is no unique and general mechanism behind our practices of metaphor and irony. Metaphor works in a particular way, by prompting the specific kind of analogical thinking And, irony works in its own particular way, by prompting new appreciation of the apparent contribution, speaker or perspective of an utterance exhibited for effect. Or so we will argue.
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59. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Christopher Hom, Robert May The Inconsistency of the Identity Thesis
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In theorizing about racial pejoratives, an initially attractive view is that pejoratives have the same reference as their “neutral counterparts”. Call this the identity thesis. According to this thesis, the terms “kike” and “Jew”, for instance, pick out the same set of people. To be a Jew just is to be a kike, and so to make claims about Jews just is to make claims about kikes. In this way, the two words are synonymous, and so make the same contribution to the truth-conditions of sentences containing them. While the fundamental claim for the identity thesis that Jews are kikes sounds anti-semitic, it need not be actually anti-semitic. The identity thesis is usually bolstered with the further claim that the pejorative aspect of “kike” and other such terms is located elsewhere than in truth-conditional content, so what makes “kike” a bad word is a non-truth-conditional association with anti-semitism that is not shared with the word “Jew”. The exact nature and location of the negative moral content of pejoratives is a matter of some dispute among identity theorists. But whatever the intuitive appeal of the identity theory for those persuaded by such views, it is nevertheless inconsistent.
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60. ProtoSociology: Volume > 31
Paul M. Pietroski Describing I-junction
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The meaning of a noun phrase like ‘brown cow’, or ‘cow that ate grass’, is somehow conjunctive. But conjunctive in what sense? Are the meanings of other phrases—e.g, ‘ate quickly’, ‘ate grass’, and ‘at noon’—similarly conjunctive? I suggest a possible answer, in the context of a broader conception of natural language semantics. But my main aim is to highlight some underdiscussed questions and some implications of our ignorance.
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