Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2020

Louise Antony
Pages 45-57

Not rational, but not brutely causal either
A response to Fodor on concept acquisition

Jerry Fodor has argued that concept acquisition cannot be a psychological or “rational-causal” process, but can only be a “brute-causal” process of acquisition. This position generates the “doorknob → DOORKNOB” problem: why are concepts typically acquired on the basis of experience with items in their extensions? I argue that Fodor’s taxonomy of causal processes needs supplementation, and characterize a third type: what I call “intelligible-causal processes.” Armed with this new category I present what I regard as a better response than Fodor’s to the doorknob → DOORKNOB problem.