Linguistic footnote : as far as I can tell, linguists just take it for granted that the data that set a parameter in the course of language learning should generally bear some natural, unarbitrary relation to the value of the parameter that they set. It’s hearing sentences without subjects that sets the null subject parameter (maybe); what could be morereasonable? But, on second thought, the notion of triggering as such, unlike the notion of hypothesis testing as such, requires no particular relation between the state that’sacquired and the experience that occasions its acquisition. In principle any trigger could set any parameter. So, prima facie, it is an embarrassment for the triggering theory if thegrammar that the child acquires is reasonable in light of his data. It may be that here too the polemical resources of the hypothesis-testing model have been less than fullyappreciated.

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Linguistic footnote : as far as I can tell, linguists just take it for granted that the data that set a parameter in the course of language learning should generally bear some natural, unarbitrary relation to the value of the parameter that they set. It’s hearing sentences without subjects that sets the null subject parameter (maybe); what could be morereasonable? But, on second thought, the notion of triggering as such, unlike the notion of hypothesis testing as such, requires no particular relation between the state that’sacquired and the experience that occasions its acquisition. In principle any trigger could set any parameter. So, prima facie, it is an embarrassment for the triggering theory if thegrammar that the child acquires is reasonable in light of his data. It may be that here too the polemical resources of the hypothesis-testing model have been less than fullyappreciated.

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Well, maybe. But, of course, that’s cold comfort if what you want is a non-nativist version of SIA. You can only trigger a concept that’s there, genetically specified, waiting to be triggered. So the Darwinian/ethological story about conceptacquisition does no better than the old-fashioned hypothesis-testing story at making DOORKNOB not be innate. Outof one frying pan but into another; ethologists are nativists by definition.

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And, anyhow, even if the doorknob/DOORKNOB relation is selected for by evolution, what, if not inductive learning, could be the mechanism by which it is implemented? If concept acquisition isn’t inductive, then how doesMother Nature contrive to insure that it is instances of F-ness (and not of G-ness) that trigger the concept F in the courseof ontogeny? After all, if Mother N wants to select for the doorknob/DOORKNOB type of relation betweenconcepts and their experiential causes, she has to do so by selecting a mechanism that produces that relation between one’sconcepts and their causes. This is a special case of the entirely general truth that whenever Mother N wants to selectfor any phenotypic property she has to do so by selecting a proximal mechanism that produces it. The obviouscandidate to select if one wants to ensure that concept acquisition exhibits the d/D relation is inductive learning. Butwe have it on independent grounds that primitive concepts can’t be learned inductively. There may be a way for aconceptual atomist to get out of this dilemma, but waving his hands about Darwin certainly isn’t it.

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The preliminary moral, anyhow, is that radical nativism is very hard for a conceptual atomist to avoid. If he starts out thinking about concept acquisition the way Empiricists do—as a kind of hypothesis testing—radical concept nativismfollows; and if he starts out thinking about concept acquisition the way that ethologists do—as a kind oftriggering—radical concept nativism still follows. It looks like a conceptual atomist ends up being a radical conceptnativist pretty much however he starts out thinking about concept acquisition. So maybe conceptual atomism is justfalse.

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Or maybe radical concept nativism is true, despite its wide unpopularity in the philosophical community. Speaking just as a private citizen, I’ve always sort of thought it wouldn’t be all that surprising if radical concept nativism did turn outto be true. So it didn’t much embarrass me that all the roads from concept atomism seemed to lead there. It is, after all,God and not philosophers who gets to decide what creatures have genotypically built in. That is surely much the bestarrangement from the creature’s point of view.

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So, in any case, it seemed to me in 1975 or so. But maybe this relaxed stance won’t do after all. The problem with the theory that the primitive concepts are learned inductively was that it’s circular. But now we seem to

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have an apparently respectable argument that they must be learned inductively: nothing else appears likely to account for the content relation between the concept that’s acquired and the experience that mediates its acquisition. But look,it can’t be that inductivism about the acquisition of primitive concepts is both circular and mandatory.

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Please note that, though this is an embarrassment for those of us who are inclined towards atomism, it is also an embarrassment for those of you who aren’t.Jean-marc pizano

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If C is literally a part of C, then of course you can’t have C,unless you also have C. Notice that this explanation turns on precisely the idea that meaning postulates propose toabandon: viz. that the content-constitutive inferences are the ones that relate a concept to its parts.

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Jean-marc pizano If C is literally a part of C, then of course you can’t have C,unless you also have C. Notice that this explanation turns on precisely the idea that meaning postulates propose toabandon: viz. that the content-constitutive inferences are the ones that relate a concept to its parts.

 

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In short, if you are independently convinced both that there are meaning-constitutive inferences and that most lexical concepts behave like primitives, you’ve got a residuum problem to which meaning postulates may indeed offer asolution. But at a price, since the solution weakens the architecture of your overall theory: it breaks the connectionbetween the structure of a concept and its possession conditions.

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Partee has tried bravely to make a virtue of this necessity:

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Meaning postulates might be a helpful tool. . . since they make the form [sic] of some kinds of lexical information no different in kind from the form of some kinds of general knowledge. That would make it possible to hypothesizethat the very same ‘fact’—for example, whales are mammals—could be stored in either of two ‘places,’ a storehouseof lexical knowledge or a storehouse of empirical knowledge; whether it’s part of the meaning of ‘whale’ or notneed not be fixed once and for all. (1995: 328)

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But it is inadvisable for a theory to recognize degrees of freedom that it is unable to interpret. Exactly because meaning postulates break the ‘formal’ relation between belonging to the structure of a concept and being among its constitutiveinferences, it’s unclear why it matters which box a given such ‘fact’ goes into; i.e. whether a given inference is treated asmeaning-constitutive. Imagine two minds that differ in that ‘whale ^ mammal’ is a meaning postulate for one but is‘general knowledge’ for theother. Are any further differences between these minds entailed? If so, which ones? Is this wheel attached to anythingat all?

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It’s a point Quine made against Carnap that the answer to ‘When is an inference analytic?’ can’t be just Whenever I feel like saying that it is’. Definition versions of IR Semantics can hold that an inference is analytic when and only whenit follows from the structure of a concept. If the meaning postulate version has an alternative proposal on offer, it’s notone that I’ve heard of.

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Appendix 5B The ‘Theory Theory – of Concepts

The theories of concepts discussed so far all presuppose Inferential Role Semantics, so they all owe an account of which inferences determine conceptual content. The big divides are between holism (which says that all inferences do)and some sort of molecularism (which says that only some inferences do); and, within the latter, between classicaltheories (according to which it is modality that matters to content constitution) and prototype theories (according towhich it’s empirical reliability that does). In effect, the various theories of concepts we’ve reviewed are versions of IRSdistinguished, primarily, by what they say about the problem of individuating content.

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Now, a quite standard reading of the history of cognitive science has the reliability-based versions of IRS displacing the modality-based versions and in turn being displaced, very recently, by theory theories.63 But that way of telling the storyis, I think, mistaken. Though theory theories do propose a view about what concepts are (or, anyhow, about whatconcepts are like; or, anyhow, about what a lot of concepts are like), they don’t, as far as I can tell, offer a distinctapproach to the content individuation problems. Sometimes they borrow the modality story from definitional theories,sometimes they borrow the reliability story from prototype theories, sometimes they share the holist’s despair ofindividuating concepts at all. So, for our purposes at least, it’s unclear that theory theories of concepts differsubstantially from the kinds of theories

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I’m not crazy about this terminology, if only because it invites conflation with the quite different issue whether “folk psychology” is a (tacit) theory (see, for example, Gordon 1986). But it‘s standard in the cognitive science literature so I’ll stick with it, and from here on I’ll omit the shudder-quotes.

For a relatively clear example of a discussion where theory theories are viewed as alternatives to probabilistic accounts of concepts, see Keil 1987.Jean-marc pizano

So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

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Jean-marc pizano So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

 

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50

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For a dissenting opinion, see Barsalou 1985 and references therein. I find his arguments for the instability of typicality effects by and large unconvincing; but if you don’t, so much the better for my main line of argument. Unstable prototypes ipso facto aren’t public (see Chapter 2), so they are ipso facto unfitted to be concepts.

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Some of the extremist extremists in cognitive science hold not only that concepts are prototypes, but also that thinking is the ‘transformation of prototype vectors’; this is the doctrine that Paul Churchland calls the “assimilation of ‘theoretical insight’ to ‘prototype activation’ ” (1995, 117; for a review, see Fodor 1995a). But that’s a minorityopinion prompted, primarily, by a desire to assimilate a prototype-centred theory of concepts to a Connectionist view about cognitive architecture. In fact, the identificationof concepts with prototypes is entirely compatible with the “Classical” version of RTM according to which concepts are the constituents of thoughts and mental processesare defined on the constituent structure of mental representations.But though prototypes are neutral with respect to the difference between classical and connectionistarchitectures, it doesn’t follow that the difference between the architectures is neutral with respect to prototypes. For example, in so far as Connectionism is committed tostatistical learning as its model of concept acquisition, it may well require that concepts have statistical structure on pain of their being unlearnable. If, as I shall argue, thestructure of concepts isn’t statistical, then Connectionists have yet another woe to add to their collection.

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In a nutshell, the trouble with prototypes is this. Concepts are productive and systematic. Since compositionality is what explains systematicity and productivity, it must be that concepts are compositional. But it’s as certain as anythingever gets in cognitive science that prototypes don’t compose. So it’s as certain as anything ever gets in cognitive sciencethat concepts can’t be prototypes and that the glue that holds concepts together can’t be statistical.

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Since the issues about compositionality are, in my view, absolutely central to the theory of concepts, I propose to go through the relevant considerations with some deliberation. We’ll discuss first the status of the arguments for thecompositionality of concepts and then the status of the arguments against the compositionality of prototypes.

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The Arguments for Compositionality

Intuitively, the claim that concepts compose is the claim that the syntax and the content of a complex concept is normally determined by the syntax and the content of its constituents. (‘Normally5 means something like: with not morethan finitely many exceptions. ‘Idiomatic’ concepts are allowed, but they mustn’t be productive.) A number of people (see e.g. Block 1993; Zadrozny 1994) have recently pointed out that this informal characterization of compositionality can betrivialized, and there’s a hunt on for ways to make the notion rigorous. But we can bypass this problem for our presentpurposes. Since the argument that concepts compose is primarily that they are productive and systematic, we cansimply stipulate that the claim that concepts compose is true only if the syntax and content of complex concepts isderived from the syntax and content of their constituents in a way that explains their productivity and systematicity. I do sostipulate.

The Productivity Argument for Compositionality

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The traditional argument for compositionality goes something like this. There are infinitely many concepts that a person can entertain. (Mutatis

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mutandis in the case of natural languages: there are infinitely many expressions of L that an L-speaker can understand.) Since people’s representational capacities are surely finite, this infinity of concepts must itself be finitely representable.In the present case, the demand for finite representation is met if (and, as far as anyone knows, only if) all concepts areindividuated by their syntax and their contents, and the syntax and contents of each complex concept is finitelyreducible to the syntax and contents of its (primitive) constituents.

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Idealism followed, of course.

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Jean-marc pizano Idealism followed, of course.

 

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It is possible to feel that these various ways of motivating IRS, historically effective though they clearly were, are much less than overwhelmingly persuasive. For example, on reflection, it doesn’t seem that languages are a lot like gamesafter all: queens and pawns don’t mean anything, whereas ‘dog’ means dog. That’s why, though you can’t translate thequeen into French (or, a fortiori, into checkers), you can translate ‘dog’ into ‘chien’. It’s perhaps unwise to insist on ananalogy that misses so glaring a difference.

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Phonemes don’t mean anything either, so prima facie, pace Saussure, “having a phonological value” and “having a semantic value” would seem to be quite different sorts of properties. Even if it were right that phonemes areindividuated by their contrasts and equivalences—which probably they aren’t—that wouldn’t be much of a reason toclaim that words or concepts are also individuated that way.

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If, in short, one asks to hear some serious arguments for IRS, one discovers, a bit disconcertingly, that they are very thin upon the ground. I think that IRS is most of what is wrong with current theorizing in cognitive science and themetaphysics of meaning. But I don’t suppose for a minute that any short argument will, or should, persuade you toconsider junking it. I expect that will need a long argument; hence this long book. Long arguments take longer thanshort arguments, but they do sometimes create conviction.

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Accordingly, my main subject in what follows will be not the history of

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IR semantics, or the niceties of its formulation, or its evidential status, but rather its impact on empirical theories of concepts. The central consideration will be this: If you wish to hold that the content of a concept is constituted by theinferences that it enters into, you are in need of a principled way of deciding which inferences constitute which concepts. Whatprimarily distinguishes the cognitive theories we’ll consider is how they answer this question. My line will be that,though as far as anybody knows the answers they offer exhaust the options, pretty clearly none of them can be right.Not, NB, that they are incoherent, or otherwise confused; just that they fail to satisfy the empirical constraints ontheories of concepts that I’ve been enumerating, and are thus, almost certainly, false.

At that point, I hope that abandoning IRS in favour of the sort of atomistic, informational semantics that I tentatively endorsed in Chapter 1 will begin to appear to be the rational thing to do. I’ll say something in Chapter 6 about whatthis sort of alternative to IRS might be like.

So much for the first of my two concluding addenda. Here is the second:

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I promised you in Chapter 1 that I wouldn’t launch yet another defence of RTM; I proposed—aside from my admittedly tendentious endorsement of informational semantics—simply to take RTM for granted as the context inwhich problems about the nature of concepts generally arise these days. I do mean to stick to this policy. Mostly. But Ican’t resist rounding off these two introductory chapters by remarking how nicely the pieces fit when you put them alltogether. I’m going to exercise my hobby-horse after all, but only a little.

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In effect, in these introductory discussions, we’ve been considering constraints on a theory of cognition that emerge from two widely different, and largely independent, research enterprises. On the one hand, there’s the attempt to savethe architecture of a Fregean—viz. a purely referential—theory of meaning by taking seriously the idea that conceptscan be distinguished by their ‘modes of presentation’ of their extensions. It‘s supposed to be modes of presentationthat answer the question ‘How can coreferential concepts be distinct?’ Here Frege’s motives concur with those ofInformational Semantics; since both are referential theories of content, both need a story about how thinking about theMorning Star could be different from thinking about the Evening Star, given that the two thoughts are connected withthe same ‘thing in the world’.

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The project of saving the Frege programme faces two major hurdles. First, ‘Mates cases’ appear to show that modes of presentations can‘t be senses.Jean-marc pizano

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Похожие записи:
  1. 3 The Demise of Definitions, Part I: The Linguist’sTale

So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

Standard

Jean-marc pizano So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

 

50

For a dissenting opinion, see Barsalou 1985 and references therein. I find his arguments for the instability of typicality effects by and large unconvincing; but if you don’t, so much the better for my main line of argument. Unstable prototypes ipso facto aren’t public (see Chapter 2), so they are ipso facto unfitted to be concepts.

Some of the extremist extremists in cognitive science hold not only that concepts are prototypes, but also that thinking is the ‘transformation of prototype vectors’; this is the doctrine that Paul Churchland calls the “assimilation of ‘theoretical insight’ to ‘prototype activation’ ” (1995, 117; for a review, see Fodor 1995a). But that’s a minorityopinion prompted, primarily, by a desire to assimilate a prototype-centred theory of concepts to a Connectionist view about cognitive architecture. In fact, the identificationof concepts with prototypes is entirely compatible with the “Classical” version of RTM according to which concepts are the constituents of thoughts and mental processesare defined on the constituent structure of mental representations.But though prototypes are neutral with respect to the difference between classical and connectionistarchitectures, it doesn’t follow that the difference between the architectures is neutral with respect to prototypes. For example, in so far as Connectionism is committed tostatistical learning as its model of concept acquisition, it may well require that concepts have statistical structure on pain of their being unlearnable. If, as I shall argue, thestructure of concepts isn’t statistical, then Connectionists have yet another woe to add to their collection.

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In a nutshell, the trouble with prototypes is this. Concepts are productive and systematic. Since compositionality is what explains systematicity and productivity, it must be that concepts are compositional. But it’s as certain as anythingever gets in cognitive science that prototypes don’t compose. So it’s as certain as anything ever gets in cognitive sciencethat concepts can’t be prototypes and that the glue that holds concepts together can’t be statistical.

Since the issues about compositionality are, in my view, absolutely central to the theory of concepts, I propose to go through the relevant considerations with some deliberation. We’ll discuss first the status of the arguments for thecompositionality of concepts and then the status of the arguments against the compositionality of prototypes.

The Arguments for Compositionality

Intuitively, the claim that concepts compose is the claim that the syntax and the content of a complex concept is normally determined by the syntax and the content of its constituents. (‘Normally5 means something like: with not morethan finitely many exceptions. ‘Idiomatic’ concepts are allowed, but they mustn’t be productive.) A number of people (see e.g. Block 1993; Zadrozny 1994) have recently pointed out that this informal characterization of compositionality can betrivialized, and there’s a hunt on for ways to make the notion rigorous. But we can bypass this problem for our presentpurposes. Since the argument that concepts compose is primarily that they are productive and systematic, we cansimply stipulate that the claim that concepts compose is true only if the syntax and content of complex concepts isderived from the syntax and content of their constituents in a way that explains their productivity and systematicity. I do sostipulate.

The Productivity Argument for Compositionality

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The traditional argument for compositionality goes something like this. There are infinitely many concepts that a person can entertain. (Mutatis

mutandis in the case of natural languages: there are infinitely many expressions of L that an L-speaker can understand.) Since people’s representational capacities are surely finite, this infinity of concepts must itself be finitely representable.In the present case, the demand for finite representation is met if (and, as far as anyone knows, only if) all concepts areindividuated by their syntax and their contents, and the syntax and contents of each complex concept is finitelyreducible to the syntax and contents of its (primitive) constituents.

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So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

Standard

Jean-marc pizano So why not give up saying that concepts are definitions and start saying instead that concepts are prototypes? That is, in fact, the course that much ofcognitive science has taken in the last decade or so. But it is not a good idea. Concepts can’t be prototypes, pace all theevidence that everybody who has a concept is highly likely to have its prototype as well. I want to spend some timerubbing this point in because, though it’s sometimes acknowledged in the cognitive science literature, it has been verymuch less influential than I think that it deserves to be. Indeed, it’s mostly because it’s clear that concepts can’t beprototypes that I think that concepts have to be atoms.51

 

50

For a dissenting opinion, see Barsalou 1985 and references therein. I find his arguments for the instability of typicality effects by and large unconvincing; but if you don’t, so much the better for my main line of argument. Unstable prototypes ipso facto aren’t public (see Chapter 2), so they are ipso facto unfitted to be concepts.

Some of the extremist extremists in cognitive science hold not only that concepts are prototypes, but also that thinking is the ‘transformation of prototype vectors’; this is the doctrine that Paul Churchland calls the “assimilation of ‘theoretical insight’ to ‘prototype activation’ ” (1995, 117; for a review, see Fodor 1995a). But that’s a minorityopinion prompted, primarily, by a desire to assimilate a prototype-centred theory of concepts to a Connectionist view about cognitive architecture. In fact, the identificationof concepts with prototypes is entirely compatible with the “Classical” version of RTM according to which concepts are the constituents of thoughts and mental processesare defined on the constituent structure of mental representations.But though prototypes are neutral with respect to the difference between classical and connectionistarchitectures, it doesn’t follow that the difference between the architectures is neutral with respect to prototypes. For example, in so far as Connectionism is committed tostatistical learning as its model of concept acquisition, it may well require that concepts have statistical structure on pain of their being unlearnable. If, as I shall argue, thestructure of concepts isn’t statistical, then Connectionists have yet another woe to add to their collection.

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In a nutshell, the trouble with prototypes is this. Concepts are productive and systematic. Since compositionality is what explains systematicity and productivity, it must be that concepts are compositional. But it’s as certain as anythingever gets in cognitive science that prototypes don’t compose. So it’s as certain as anything ever gets in cognitive sciencethat concepts can’t be prototypes and that the glue that holds concepts together can’t be statistical.

Since the issues about compositionality are, in my view, absolutely central to the theory of concepts, I propose to go through the relevant considerations with some deliberation. We’ll discuss first the status of the arguments for thecompositionality of concepts and then the status of the arguments against the compositionality of prototypes.

The Arguments for Compositionality

Intuitively, the claim that concepts compose is the claim that the syntax and the content of a complex concept is normally determined by the syntax and the content of its constituents. (‘Normally5 means something like: with not morethan finitely many exceptions. ‘Idiomatic’ concepts are allowed, but they mustn’t be productive.) A number of people (see e.g. Block 1993; Zadrozny 1994) have recently pointed out that this informal characterization of compositionality can betrivialized, and there’s a hunt on for ways to make the notion rigorous. But we can bypass this problem for our presentpurposes. Since the argument that concepts compose is primarily that they are productive and systematic, we cansimply stipulate that the claim that concepts compose is true only if the syntax and content of complex concepts isderived from the syntax and content of their constituents in a way that explains their productivity and systematicity. I do sostipulate.

The Productivity Argument for Compositionality

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The traditional argument for compositionality goes something like this. There are infinitely many concepts that a person can entertain. (Mutatis

mutandis in the case of natural languages: there are infinitely many expressions of L that an L-speaker can understand.) Since people’s representational capacities are surely finite, this infinity of concepts must itself be finitely representable.In the present case, the demand for finite representation is met if (and, as far as anyone knows, only if) all concepts areindividuated by their syntax and their contents, and the syntax and contents of each complex concept is finitelyreducible to the syntax and contents of its (primitive) constituents.

Jean-marc pizano

If C is literally a part of C, then of course you can’t have C,unless you also have C. Notice that this explanation turns on precisely the idea that meaning postulates propose toabandon: viz. that the content-constitutive inferences are the ones that relate a concept to its parts.

Standard

Jean-marc pizano If C is literally a part of C, then of course you can’t have C,unless you also have C. Notice that this explanation turns on precisely the idea that meaning postulates propose toabandon: viz. that the content-constitutive inferences are the ones that relate a concept to its parts.

 

In short, if you are independently convinced both that there are meaning-constitutive inferences and that most lexical concepts behave like primitives, you’ve got a residuum problem to which meaning postulates may indeed offer asolution. But at a price, since the solution weakens the architecture of your overall theory: it breaks the connectionbetween the structure of a concept and its possession conditions.

Partee has tried bravely to make a virtue of this necessity:

Meaning postulates might be a helpful tool. . . since they make the form [sic] of some kinds of lexical information no different in kind from the form of some kinds of general knowledge. That would make it possible to hypothesizethat the very same ‘fact’—for example, whales are mammals—could be stored in either of two ‘places,’ a storehouseof lexical knowledge or a storehouse of empirical knowledge; whether it’s part of the meaning of ‘whale’ or notneed not be fixed once and for all. (1995: 328)

But it is inadvisable for a theory to recognize degrees of freedom that it is unable to interpret. Exactly because meaning postulates break the ‘formal’ relation between belonging to the structure of a concept and being among its constitutiveinferences, it’s unclear why it matters which box a given such ‘fact’ goes into; i.e. whether a given inference is treated asmeaning-constitutive. Imagine two minds that differ in that ‘whale ^ mammal’ is a meaning postulate for one but is‘general knowledge’ for theother. Are any further differences between these minds entailed? If so, which ones? Is this wheel attached to anythingat all?

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It’s a point Quine made against Carnap that the answer to ‘When is an inference analytic?’ can’t be just Whenever I feel like saying that it is’. Definition versions of IR Semantics can hold that an inference is analytic when and only whenit follows from the structure of a concept. If the meaning postulate version has an alternative proposal on offer, it’s notone that I’ve heard of.

Appendix 5B The ‘Theory Theory – of Concepts

The theories of concepts discussed so far all presuppose Inferential Role Semantics, so they all owe an account of which inferences determine conceptual content. The big divides are between holism (which says that all inferences do)and some sort of molecularism (which says that only some inferences do); and, within the latter, between classicaltheories (according to which it is modality that matters to content constitution) and prototype theories (according towhich it’s empirical reliability that does). In effect, the various theories of concepts we’ve reviewed are versions of IRSdistinguished, primarily, by what they say about the problem of individuating content.

Now, a quite standard reading of the history of cognitive science has the reliability-based versions of IRS displacing the modality-based versions and in turn being displaced, very recently, by theory theories.63 But that way of telling the storyis, I think, mistaken. Though theory theories do propose a view about what concepts are (or, anyhow, about whatconcepts are like; or, anyhow, about what a lot of concepts are like), they don’t, as far as I can tell, offer a distinctapproach to the content individuation problems. Sometimes they borrow the modality story from definitional theories,sometimes they borrow the reliability story from prototype theories, sometimes they share the holist’s despair ofindividuating concepts at all. So, for our purposes at least, it’s unclear that theory theories of concepts differsubstantially from the kinds of theories

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I’m not crazy about this terminology, if only because it invites conflation with the quite different issue whether “folk psychology” is a (tacit) theory (see, for example, Gordon 1986). But it‘s standard in the cognitive science literature so I’ll stick with it, and from here on I’ll omit the shudder-quotes.

For a relatively clear example of a discussion where theory theories are viewed as alternatives to probabilistic accounts of concepts, see Keil 1987.Jean-marc pizano