Just as it’s possible to dissociate the

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19

Just as it’s possible to dissociate the idea that concepts are complex from the claim that meaning-constitutive inferences are necessary, so too it’s possible to dissociate the idea that concepts are constituted by their roles in inferences from the claim that they are complex. See Appendix 5A.

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More precisely, only with respect to conceptualy necessary inferences. (Notice that neither nomological nor metaphysical necessity will do; there might be laws about brown cows per se, and (who knows?) brown cows might have a proprietary hidden essence.) I don’t know what a Classical IRS theorist should say if it turns out that conceptuallynecessary inferences aren’t ipso facto definitional or vice versa. That, however, is his problem, not mine.

21

They aren’t the only ones, of course. For example, Keil remarks that “Theories . . . make it impossible … to talk about the construction of concepts solely on the basis ofprobabilistic distributions of properties in the world” (1987: 196). But that’s true only on the assumption that theories somehow constitute the concepts they contain. DittoKeil’s remark that “future work on the nature of concepts . . . must focus on the sorts of theories that emerge in children and how these theories come to influence thestructure of the concepts that they embrace” (ibid.).

22

There are exceptions. Susan Carey thinks that the individuation of concepts must be relativized to the theories they occur in, but that only the basic ‘ontological’commitments of a theory are content constitutive. (However, see Carey 1985: 168: “I assume that there is a continuum of degrees of conceptual differences, at the extremeend of which are concepts embedded in incommensurable conceptual systems.”) It’s left open how basic ontological claims are to be distinguished from commitments ofother kinds, and Carey is quite aware that problems about drawing this distinction are depressingly like the analytic/synthetic problems. But in so far as Carey has an accountof content individuation on offer, it does seem to be some version of the Classical theory.

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This point is related, but not identical, to the familiar worry about whether implicit definition can effect a ‘qualitative change’ in a theory’s expressive power: the worry thatdefinitions (implicit or otherwise) can only introduce concepts whose contents are already expressible by the host theory. (For discussion, see Fodor 1975.) It looks to methat implicit definition is specially problematic for meaning holists even if it’s granted that an implicit definition can (somehow) extend the host theory’s expressive power.

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I don’t particularly mean to pick on Gopnik; the cognitive science literature is full of examples of the mistake that I’m trying to draw attention to. What’s unusual aboutGopnik’s treatment is just that it’s clear enough for one to see what the problem is.

25

As usual, it’s essential to keep in mind that when a de dicto intentional explanation attributes to an agent knowledge (rules, etc.), it thereby credits the agent with the conceptsinvolved in formulating the knowledge, and thus incurs the burden of saying what concepts they are. See the ‘methodological digression’ in Chapter 2.

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This chapter reconsiders some issues about the nativistic commitments of RTMs that I first raised in Fodor 1975 and then discussed extensively in 1981^. Casual familiaritywith the latter paper is recommended as a prolegomenon to this discussion.I’m especially indebted to Andrew Milne and to Peter Grim for having raised (essentially thesame) cogent objections to a previous version.

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27

For discussions that turn on this issue, see Fodor 1986; Antony and Levine 1991; Fodor 1991.

28

Actually, of course, DOORKNOB isn’t a very good example, since it’s plausibly a compound composed of the constituent concepts DOOR and KNOB. But let’s ignorethat for the sake of the discussion.

29

Well, maybe the acquisition of PROTON doesn’t; it’s plausible that PROTON is not typically acquired from its instances. So, as far as this part of the discussion is concerned, you are therefore free to take PROTON as a primitive concept if you want to. But I imagine you don’t want to.Perhaps, in any case, it goes without saying thatthe fact that the d/D effect is widespread in concept acquisition is itself contingent and a posteriori.

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To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

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Jean-marc pizano To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

 

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When Pinker’s analyses are clear enough to evaluate, they are often just wrong. For example, he notes in his discussion of causatives that the analysis PAINTvtr = cover withpaint is embarrassed by such observations as this: although when Michelangelo dipped his paintbrush in his paint pot he thereby covered the paintbrush with paint,nevertheless he did not, thereby, paint the paintbrush. (The example is, in fact, borrowed from Fodor 1970.) Pinker explains that “stereotypy or conventionality of mannerconstrains the causative . . . This might be called the ‘stereotypy effect’ ” (1984: 324). So it might, for all the good it does. It is possible, faut de mieux, to paint the wall withone’s handkerchief; with one’s bare hands; by covering oneself with paint and rolling up the wall (in which last case, by the way, though covering the wall with the paintcounts as painting the wall, covering oneself with the paint does not count as painting oneself even if one does it with a paintbrush; only as getting oneself covered withpaint).Whether you paint the wall when you cover it with paint depends not on how you do it but on what you have in mind when you do it: you have to have in mind notmerely to cover the wall with paint but to paint the wall. That is, “painty” apparently can’t be defined even in terms of such closely related expressions as “painty”. Or, if itcan, none of the decompositional analyses suggested so far, Pinker’s included, comes even close to showing how.

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Sober (1984: 82) makes what amounts to the converse point: “In general, we expect theoretical magnitudes to be multiply accessible ; there should be more than one way of finding out what their values are in a given circumstance. This reflects the assumption that theoretical magnitudes have multiple causes and effects. There is no such thing asthe only possible effect or cause of a given event; likewise, there is no such thing as the only possible way of finding out whether it occurred. I won’t assert that this issomehow a necessary feature of all theoretical magnitudes, but it is remarkably widespread.” Note the suggestion that the phenomena in virtue of which a “theoreticalmagnitude” is multiply epistemically accessible are naturally construed as its “causes and its effects”. In the contrasting case, when there is only one access path (or, anyhow,only one access path that one can think of) the intuition is generally that the magnitude at issue isn’t bona fide theoretical, and that its connection to the criterion isconceptual rather than causal.

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Terminological conventions with respect to the topics this chapter covers are unsettled. I’ll use ‘stereotype’ and ‘prototype’ interchangeably, to refer to mental representations of certain kinds of properties. So, ‘the dog stereotype’ and ‘the dog prototype’ designate some such (complex) concept as: BEING A DOMESTIC ANIMAL WHICHBARKS, HAS A TAIL WHICH IT WAGS WHEN IT IS PLEASED, . . . etc. I’ll use ‘exemplar’ for the mental representation of a kind, or of an individual, that instantiatesa prototype; so ‘sparrows are the exemplars of birds’ and ‘Bambi is Smith’s exemplar of a deer’ are both well-formed. ‘Sparrows are stereotypic birds’ (/‘Bambi is aprototypic deer’) are also OK; they mean that a certain kind (/individual) exhibits certain stereotypic (/prototypic) properties to a marked degree.

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Elanor Rosche, who invented this account of concepts more or less single-handed, often speaks of herself as a Wittgensteinian; and there is, of course, a family resemblance. But I doubt that it goes very deep. Rosche’s project was to get modality out of semantics by substituting a probabilistic account of content-constituting inferences. Whereas Isuppose Wittgenstein’s project was to offer (or anyhow, make room for) an epistemic reconstruction of conceptual necessity. Rosche is an eliminativist where Wittgenstein is areductionist. There is, in consequence, nothing in Rosche’s theory of concepts that underwrites Wittgenstein’s criteriology, hence nothing that’s of use for bopping scepticswith.

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Похожие записи:
  1. 1 Philosophical Introduction: The BackgroundTheory

For the(anyhow, my)

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Jean-marc pizano For the(anyhow, my)

 

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intuition is very strong that there is only one way to have that concept. In particular, that there is no concept of a round square that one could have without also having ROUND and SQUARE. If you share the intuition that there is thisasymmetry, between RED SQUARE and ROUND SQUARE, then you should be very happy with IA. IA explains theasymmetry because it entails that there can be no primitive concept without a corresponding property for it to lock to.

1

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And/or among states of entertaining them. I’ll worry about this sort of ontological nicety only where it seems to matter.

2

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Why relations that depend on merely mechanical properties like frequency and contiguity should preserve intentional properties like semantic domain was whatAssociationists never could explain. That was one of the rocks they foundered on.

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3

Connectionists are committed, willy-nilly, to all mental representations being primitive; hence their well-known problems with systematicity, productivity, and the like. Moreon this in Chapter 5.

4

Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with just allowing ‘symbol’ and ‘computation’ to be interdefined. But that option is not available to anyone who takes the theory that thought is computation to be part of a naturalistic psychology; viz. part of a programme of metaphysical reduction. As Turing certainly did; and as do I.

5

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More precisely: it’s never conceptually necessary unless either the inference from Fa to a — b or the inference from Fb to a — b is itself conceptually necessary. (Forexample, let Fa be: ‘a has the property of being identical to b ’.)

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6

Or, if there is more than one way to grasp a MOP, then all of the different ways of doing so must correspond to the same way of thinking its referent. I won’t pursue thisoption in the text; suffice it that doing so wouldn’t help with the problem that I’m raising. Suppose that there is more than one way to grasp a MOP; and suppose that acertain MOP is a mode of presentation of Moe. Then if, as Frege requires, there is a MOP corresponding to each way of thinking a referent, all the ways of grasping theMoe-MOP must be the same way of thinking of Moe. I claim that, precisely because 5.3 is in force, Frege’s theory has no way to ensure that this is so.

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7

See also Smith, Medin, and Rips: “what accounts for categorization cannot account for stability [publicity] . . . [a]s long as stability of concepts is equated with sameness of concepts . . . But there is another sense of stability, which can be equated with similarity of mental contents . . . and for this sense, what accounts for categorization may at least partiallyaccount for ‘stability’ ”(1984: 268). Similar passages are simply ubiquitous in the cognitive science literature; I’m grateful to Ron Mallon for having called this example to my

8

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Alternatively, a similarity theory might suppose that what we share when our PRESIDENT concepts are similar are similar beliefs about the probabilities of certain propositions: you believe that p(presidents are CICs) = 0.98; I believe that p(presidents are CICs) = 0.95; Bill believes that p(Presidents are CICs) = 0.7; so, all else equal,your PRESIDENT concept is more like mine than Bill’s is.But this construal does nothing to discharge the basic dependence of the notion of content similarity on thenotion of content identity since what it says makes our beliefs similar is that they make similar estimates of the probability of the very same proposition; e.g. of the proposition thatpresidents are CICs. If, by contrast, the propositions to which our various probability estimates relate us are themselves supposed to be merely similar, then it does not followfrom these premisses that ceteris paribus your PRESIDENT concept is more like mine than like Bill’s.

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It’s common ground that—idioms excepted—MRs that correspond to phrases (for example, the one that corresponds to “brown cow”) are typically structurally complex, so I’ve framed the definition theory as a thesis about the MRs of concepts that are expressed by lexical items. But, of course, this way of putting it relativizes the issue to thechoice of a reference language.Jean-marc pizano

And it’s quite true in such cases that, givennormal experience, the creatures end up locked to the properties that these concepts express. So, as far asinformational semantics is concerned, they therefore end up having concepts that have these properties as theircontents. But, in fact, the innate endowment that they exploit in doing so is quite rudimentary. Male sticklebacks getlocked to conspecific rivalhood via not much more than an innate ability to detect red spots. To do so, they exploit a certain(actually rather fragile) ecological regularity: there’s normally nothing around that wears a red spot except conspecificrivals.

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Jean-marc pizano And it’s quite true in such cases that, givennormal experience, the creatures end up locked to the properties that these concepts express. So, as far asinformational semantics is concerned, they therefore end up having concepts that have these properties as theircontents. But, in fact, the innate endowment that they exploit in doing so is quite rudimentary. Male sticklebacks getlocked to conspecific rivalhood via not much more than an innate ability to detect red spots. To do so, they exploit a certain(actually rather fragile) ecological regularity: there’s normally nothing around that wears a red spot except conspecificrivals.

 

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This is nomologically necessary (anyhow, it’s counterfactual supporting) in the stickleback’s ecology, and nomological necessity is transitive. So sticklebacks end up locked to conspecific rivalhood via one of its reliable appearances.

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To repeat: informational semantics suggests that, so far as the requisite innate endowment is concerned, if the world co-operates you can get concepts of natural kinds very cheap. That’s what the sticklebacks do; it’s what Homer did; it’swhat children do; it’s what all of us grown-ups do too, most of the time. By contrast, for you to have a natural kindsconcept as such is for your link to the essence of the kind not to depend on its inessential properties. This is a late andsophisticated achievement, historically, ontogenetically, and phylogenetically, and there is no reason to take it as aparadigm for concept possession at large. I suppose you start to get natural kind concepts in this strong sense onlywhen it occurs to you that, if generality and explanatory power are to be achieved, similarity and difference in respectof how things affect minds like ours has sometimes got to be ignored in deciding what kinds of things they are;perhaps, de facto, this happens only in the context of the scientific enterprise.

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Well, what about the ‘technical’ concept WATER? Does that have to be innate if it’s primitive?

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Of course not. For one thing, on the present view, there really is no ‘technical concept water’; there’s just, as it were, the technical way of having the concept WATER. Once you’ve got a concept that’s locked to water via its (locallyreliable) phenomenological properties, you can, if you wish, make a project of getting locked to water in a way thatdoesn’t depend on its superficial signs. The easy way to do this is to get some expert to teach you a theory thatexpresses the essence of the kind. To be sure, however, that will only work if the natural kind concept that you’rewanting to acquire is one which somebody else has acquired already. Things get a deal more difficult if you’re startingab initio; i.e. without any concepts which express natural kinds as such. It’s time for me to tell my story about howconcepts of natural kinds might “emerge” in a mind that is antecedently well stocked with concepts of other kinds.Actually, it’s a perfectly familiar story and not at all surprising.

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‘Emerging’

Suppose you have lots of concepts of mind-dependent properties, and lots of logico-mathematical concepts, and lots of concepts of natural kindswhich, however, aren’t concepts of natural kinds as such.93 Then what you need to do to acquire a natural kind conceptas a natural kind concept ab initio is: (i) construct a true theory of the hidden essence of the kind; and (ii) convinceyourself of the truth of the theory. If the theory is true, then it will say of a thing that it is such-and-such when and onlywhen the thing is such-and-such; and if you are convinced of the truth of the theory, then you will make it a policy toconsider that a thing is such-and-such when and only when the theory says that it is. So your believing the theory locksyou to such-and-suches via a property that they have in every metaphysically possibly world; namely, the property ofbeing such-and-suches; the property that makes the theory true. The upshot is that, if the moon is blue, and everythinggoes as planned, you will end up with a full-blown natural kind concept; the concept of such-and-suches as such.

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Natural Kinds Come Late

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Natural Kinds Come Late

I think natural kind concepts have been getting more of a press than they deserve of late. It’s past time to put them in their place; and their place is that of self-conscious and cultivated intellectual achievements. Much of what is currentlybeing written about concepts—by philosophers, but also, increasingly, by psychologists—suggests that natural kindconcepts are the paradigms on which we should model our accounts of concept acquisition and concept possession atlarge. This is, I think, hopeless on the face of it. For one thing, as Putnam in particular has argued, natural kindconcepts thrive best—maybe only—in an environment where conventions of deference to experts are in place. But,patently, only creatures with an antecedently complex mental life could make a policy of adherence to such conventions.Adherence to conventions of deference couldn’t be a precondition for conceptual content in general, if only becausedeference has to stop somewhere; if my ELM concept is deferential, that’s because the botanist’s isn’t. Anyhow, it seemsjust obvious that concepts like STAR in, as one says, the ‘technical sense’—the concept of stars that is prepared todefer about the Sun and black dwarfs on the one hand and meteors and comets on the other—come after, andsometimes come to replace, their colloquial counterparts.

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As I say, this view flies in the face of the current fashions in developmental cognitive psychology, which stress how early, and how universally, natural kind concepts are available to children. But I find that I’m not much convinced.There is, to be sure, getting to be a lot of evidence (contra Piaget) that young children are deeply into appearance/reality distinctions: they’re clear that you can’t make a horse into a zebra just by painting on stripes (Keil 1989); andthey’re clear that, for some categories (animals but not vases, for example), what’s on the inside matters to what kind athing belongs to (Carey 1985). It’s usual to summarize such findings as showing that young children are ‘essentialists’,and if you like to talk that way, so be it.5 My point, however, is that being an essentialist in this sense clearly does notimply having natural kind concepts; not even if a cognitivist picture of concept possession is assumed for sake of theargument. What’s further required, at a minimum, is the idea that what’s ‘inside’ (or otherwise hidden) somehow iscausally responsible for how

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things that belong to the kind appear; for their ‘superficial signs’. It is, of course, an empirical issue, but I don’t know of any evidence that children think that sort of thing.

If it’s easy to miss the extent to which natural kind concepts are sophisticated achievements, that’s perhaps because of a nasty ambiguity in the term. (One that we’ve already encountered, in fact; it’s why I had to pussyfoot about whetherthey had WATER in the Garden). Consider this dialectic:

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—Did Homer have natural kind concepts?

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Sure, he had the concept WATER (and the like), and water is a natural kind.

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But also:

—Did Homer have natural kind concepts?

Of course not. He had no disposition to defer to experts about water (and the like); I expect the notion of an expert about water would have struck him as bizarre. And, of course Homer had no notion that water has ahidden essence, or a characteristic microstructure (or that anything else does); a fortiori, he had no notion thatthe hidden essence of water is causally responsible for its phenomenal properties.

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A ‘natural kind concept’ can be the concept of a natural kind; or it can be the concept of a natural kind as such (i.e. the concept of a natural kind as a natural kind). It‘s perfectly consistent to claim that Homer had plenty of the first butnone of the second. In fact, I think that’s pretty clearly true. So the suggestion is that, in the history of science, and inontogeny, and, for all I know, in phylogeny too, concepts of natural kinds as such only come late. Homer, and children,and animals, have few of them or none. Somehow, concepts of natural kinds as such emerge from a background ofconcepts of mind-dependent properties, and of concepts of natural kinds that aren’t concepts of natural kinds as such.Presumably it’s because they do somehow emerge from a background of other kinds of concepts that concepts ofnatural kind as such don’t have to be innate.

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But it is surely not tolerable that they should lead by plausiblearguments to a contradiction. If the d/D effect shows that primitive concepts mustbe learned inductively, and SA showsthat primitive concepts can’t be learned inductively, then the conclusion has to be that there aren’t any primitiveconcepts. But if there aren’t any primitive

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Jean-marc pizano But it is surely not tolerable that they should lead by plausiblearguments to a contradiction. If the d/D effect shows that primitive concepts mustbe learned inductively, and SA showsthat primitive concepts can’t be learned inductively, then the conclusion has to be that there aren’t any primitiveconcepts. But if there aren’t any primitive

 

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concepts, then there aren’t any concepts at all. And if there aren’t any concepts all, RTM has gone West. Isn’t it a bit late in the day (and late in the book) for me to take back RTM?

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Help!

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Ontology

This all started because we were in the market for some account of how DOORKNOB is acquired. The story couldn’t be hypothesis testing because Conceptual Atomism was being assumed, so DOORKNOB was supposed to beprimitive; and it‘s common ground that the mechanism for acquiring primitive concepts can’t be any kind of induction.But, as it turned out, there is a further constraint that whatever theory of concepts we settle on should satisfy: it mustexplain why there is so generally a content relation between the experience that eventuates in concept attainment andthe concept that the experience eventuates in attaining. At this point, the problem about DOORKNOB metastasized:assuming that primitive concepts are triggered, or that they’re ‘caught’, won’t account for their content relation to theircauses; apparently only induction will. But primitive concepts can’t be induced; to suppose that they are is circular.What started as a problem about DOORKNOB now looks like undermining all of RTM. This is not good. I wasrelying on RTM to support me in my old age.

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But, on second thought, just why must one suppose that only a hypothesis-testing acquisition model can explain the doorknob/ DOORKNOB relation? The argument for this is, I’m pleased to report, non-demonstrative. Let’s go overit once more: the hypothesis-testing model takes the content relation between a concept and the experience it’s acquiredfrom to be a special case of the evidential relation between a generalization and its confirming instances (between, forexample, the generalization that Fs are Gs and instances of things that are both F and G). You generally get DOGfrom (typical) dogs and not, as it might be, from ketchup. That’s supposed to be because having DOG requiresbelieving (as it might be) that typical dogs bark. (Note, once again, how cognitivism about concept possession andinductivism about concept acquisition take in one another’s wash.) And, whereas encounters with typical dogs constituteevidence that dogs bark, encounters with ketchup do not (ceteris paribus). If the relation between concepts andexperiences is typically evidential, that would explain why it’s so often a relation of content: and what other explanationhave we got?

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That is what is called in the trade a ‘what-else’ argument. I have nothing against what-else arguments in philosophy; still less in cognitive science. Rational persuasion often invokes considerations that are convincing but notdemonstrative, and what else but a what-else argument could a convincing but non-demonstrative argument be? Onthe other hand, it is in the nature of what-else arguments that Q if not P trumps What else, if not P?’; and, in thepresent case, I think there is a prima facie plausible ontological candidate for Q; that is, an explanation which makes thed/D effect the consequence of a metaphysical truth about how concepts are constituted, rather than an empirical truthabout how concepts are acquired. In fact, I know of two such candidates, one of which might even work.

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First Try at a Metaphysical Solution to the d/D Problem

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If you assume a causal/historical (as opposed to a dispositional/ counterfactual) construal of the locking relation, it might well turn out that there is a metaphysical connection between acquiring DOORKNOB and causally interactingwith doorknobs. (Cf. the familiar story according to which it’s because I have causally interacted with water and myTwin hasn’t that I can think water-thoughts and he can’t.) Actually, I don’t much like causal/historical accounts oflocking (see Fodor 1994: App. B), but we needn’t argue about that here. For, even if causally interacting withdoorknobs is metaphysically necessary for DOORKNOB-acquisition, it couldn’t conceivably be metaphysically sufficient,just causally interacting with doorknobs doesn’t guarantee you any concepts at all.Jean-marc pizano

Probably of CognitiveScientists too.

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But, between friends: nothing of the sort is going to happen. In which case, what’s left to a notion of conceptual analysis that’s detached from its traditional polemical context? And what on earth are conceptual analyses for?

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Second objection: The informational part of IA says that content is constituted by nomic symbol-world connections. If that is true, then there must be laws about everything that we have concepts of. Now, it may be there are laws aboutsome of the things that we have concepts of (fish, stars, grandmothers(?!)). But how could there be laws about, as itmight be, doorknobs?27 Notice that it‘s only in conjunction with conceptual atomism that informational semantics incursthis objection. Suppose the concept DOORKNOB is definitional^ equivalent to the complex concept . . . ABC . . .Then we can think the former concept if there are laws about each of the constituents of the latter. In effect, allinformational semantics per se requires for its account of conceptual content is that there be laws about the propertiesexpressed by our primitive concepts. However, IA says that practically every (lexical) concept is primitive. So,presumably, it says that DOORKNOB is primitive.28 So there must be laws about doorknobsqua doorknobs, as it were, not qua ABCs. But how could there be laws about doorknobs? Doorknobs, of all things!

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Third objection: If most lexical concepts have no internal structure, then most lexical concepts must be primitive. But primitive concepts are, ipso facto, unlearned; and if a concept is unlearned, then it must be innate. But how couldDOORKNOB be innate? DOORKNOB, of all things!! Prima facie, this objection holds against (not just IA but) anyversion of RTM that is not heavily into conceptual reduction; that is, against any theory that says that the primitiveconceptual basis is large. In particular, it holds prima facie against any atomistic version of RTM, whether or not it isinformational.

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Objections two and three both turn on the peculiarly central roles that primitive concepts play in RTMs. Primitive concepts are supposed to be the special cases that problems about conceptual content and concept acquisition reduceto. But if not just RTM but also conceptual atomism is assumed, then the special case becomes alarmingly general. If,for example, DOORKNOB is primitive, then whatever metaphysical story we tell about the content of primitiveconcepts has to work for DOORKNOB. And so must whatever psychological story we tell about the acquisition ofprimitive concepts. And the metaphysical story has to work in light of the acquisition story, and the acquisition storyhas to work in light of the metaphysical story. Hume wouldn’t have liked this at all; he wanted the primitives to be justthe sensory concepts, and he wanted them to be acquired by the stimulation of an innate sensorium. Pretty clearly, hegets neither if DOORKNOB is among the primitives.

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I propose, in this chapter, to explore some of the ways that these issues play out in IA versions of RTM. We’ll consider how, because of the way it construes conceptual content, IA is maybe able to avoid some extremes of conceptualnativism to which other atomistic versions of RTM are prone. (Though at a price, to be sure. No free lunches hereeither.) In Chapter 7, I’ll take up the question about laws.

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The Standard Argument

There is a plausible argument which says that informational atomism implies radical conceptual nativism; I’ll call it the ‘Standard Argument’ (SA). Here, in very rough form, is how the Standard Argument is supposed to go.

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SA begins by assuming that learning a concept is an inductive process; specifically, that it requires devising and testing hypotheses about what the property is in virtue of which things fall under the concept. This is

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relatively unproblematic when the concept to be acquired is a definition. If the concept BACHELOR is the concept UNMARRIED MALE, you can learn BACHELOR by learning that things fall under it in virtue of being male and beingunmarried. But, on pain of circularity, the (absolutely) primitive concepts can’t themselves be learned this way. Supposethe concept RED is primitive. Then to learn RED inductively you’d have to devise and confirm the hypothesis thatthings fall under RED in virtue of being red.Jean-marc pizano