cognitivist according to this criterion, and wouldn’t be even if (by accident) the concept DOORKNOB happened to be triggered by doorknobs..) Well, by this criterion, my story isn’t cognitivist either. My story says that what doorknobs have in commonqua doorknobs is being the kind of thing that our kind of minds (do or would) lock to from experience with instances of the doorknobstereotype. (Cf. to be red just is to have that property that minds like ours (do or would) lock to in virtue of experiences oftypical instances of redness.) Why isn’t that OK?82
If you put that account of the metaphysics of doorknobhood together with the metaphysical account of concept possession that informational semantics proposes—having a concept is something like “resonating to” the propertythat the concept expresses—then you get: being a doorknob is having that property that minds like ours come to resonateto in consequence of relevant experience with stereotypic doorknobs. That, and not being learned inductively, is whatexplains the content relation between DOORKNOB and the kinds of experience that typically mediates its acquisition.It also explains how doorknobhood could seem to be undefinable and unanalysable without being metaphysically ultimate.And it is also explains how DOORKNOB could be both psychologically primitive and not innate, the StandardArgument to the contrary not withstanding.
Several points in a spirit of expatiation:
The basic idea is that what makes something a doorknob is just: being the kind of thing from experience with which our kind of mind readily acquires the concept DOORKNOB. And, conversely, what makes something the conceptDOORKNOB is just: expressing the property that our kinds of minds lock to from experience with good examples ofinstantiated doorknobhood. But this way of putting the suggestion is too weak since experience with stereotypicdoorknobs might cause one to lock to any of a whole lot of properties (or to none), depending on what else is going onat the time. (In some contexts it might cause one to lock to the property belongs to Jones.) Whereas, what I want to say isthat doorknobhood is the property that one gets locked to when experience with typical doorknobs causes the locking anddoes so in virtue of the properties they have qua typical doorknobs. We have the kinds of minds that often
Modal footnote (NB): Here as elsewhere through the present discussion, ‘minds like ours’ and ‘the (stereo)typical properties of doorknobs’ are to be read rigidly, viz. as denoting the properties that instances of stereotypic doorknobs and typical minds have in this world. That the typical properties of minds and doorknobs are what they are ismeant to be contingent.
acquire the concept X from experiences whose intentional objects are properties belonging to the X-stereotype8
Notice that this is not a truism, and that it’s not circular; it’s contingently true if it’s true at all. What makes it contingent is that being a doorknob is neither necessary nor sufficient for something to have the stereotypic doorknob properties(not even in ‘normal circumstances’ in any sense of “normal circumstances” I can think of that doesn’t beg thequestion).Stereotype is a statistical notion. The only theoretically interesting connection between being a doorknob andsatisfying the doorknob stereotype is that, contingently, things that do either often do both.
In fact, since the relation between instantiating the doorknob stereotype and being a doorknob is patently contingent, you might want to buy into the present account of DOORKNOB even if you don’t like the Lockean story about RED.The classical problem with the latter is that it takes for granted an unexplicated notion of ‘looks red’ (‘red experience’,‘red sense datum’, or whatever) and is thus in some danger of circularity since “the expression ‘looks red’ is notsemantically unstructured. Its sense is determined by that of its constituents. If one does not understand thoseconstituents, one does not fully understand the compound” (Peacocke 1992: 408). Well, maybe this kind of objectionshows that an account of being red mustn’t presuppose the property of looking red (though Peacocke doubts that it showsthat, and so do I). In any event, no parallel argument could show that an account of being a doorknob mustn’tpresuppose the property of satisfying the doorknob stereotype.Jean-marc pizano