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.)

Standard

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.)

 

jean-marc pizano

15

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

16

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

17

jean-marc pizano

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.

Jean-marc pizano

18

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

Похожие записи:
  1. 1 Philosophical Introduction: The BackgroundTheory

I rush past the implausibility of claiming that infants have to have that much ontology (in particular,that much dubious ontology) in order to learn quotidian object-concepts like CHAIR. I’m a nativist too, after all. Themore pressing problem for a theory theorist is: if that’s what ‘object’ means in the infant’s rule, in what sense are therediscontinuities in the development of the infant’s object-concept? On this reading of the text, it looks like what the infanthas—right from the start and right to the finish—is a concept of an object that’s much like Locke’s: objects areunobservable kinds of things that cause experiences. Correspondingly, cognitive development consists of learningmore and more about things of

Standard

Jean-marc pizano I rush past the implausibility of claiming that infants have to have that much ontology (in particular,that much dubious ontology) in order to learn quotidian object-concepts like CHAIR. I’m a nativist too, after all. Themore pressing problem for a theory theorist is: if that’s what ‘object’ means in the infant’s rule, in what sense are therediscontinuities in the development of the infant’s object-concept? On this reading of the text, it looks like what the infanthas—right from the start and right to the finish—is a concept of an object that’s much like Locke’s: objects areunobservable kinds of things that cause experiences. Correspondingly, cognitive development consists of learningmore and more about things of

 

jean-marc pizano

this kind (e.g. that when you turn your back on one, it ceases to cause appearances in you . . . etc.).69 What, then, has become of the discontinuity of the object-concept? In particular, what’s become of the incommensurability of the infant’sobject-concept with grown-up Gopnik’s? It turns out that Gopnik can, after all, say exactly what (according to hertheory) the infant’s earliest concept of an object is: it’s the concept ofa theoretical entity which explains sequences of. . . etc.. ..

jean-marc pizano

and which ceases to cause appearances in you when you turn your back on it… etc.

jean-marc pizano

I suppose what Gopnik really ought to say, if she wants to be true to the implicit definition picture, is that the concept of an object is that of ‘AN X WHICH … ’, and that cognitive development consists in adding more and more relativeclauses. But it’s hard to see why such a thesis would count as construing concept development as discontinuous. And,anyhow, it’s hard to see how it could be swallowed by a meaning holist. Isn’t meaning holism, by definition, committedto there not being a notion of content identity that tolerates the addition of new information to the same old concept?

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

The local moral, to repeat, is that maybe you can make sense of concept introduction as implicit theoretical definition, and maybe you can make sense of meaning holism. But it’s very unclear that you can make sense of both at the sametime. The general moral is that, if the theory theory has a distinctive and coherent answer to the ‘What’s a concept?’question on offer, it’s a well-kept secret.

jean-marc pizano

I should add, in minimal fairness, that it’s not clear that theory theorists are really all that interested in what concepts are. Certainly it’s often hard to tell whether they are from what they say. For example, Medin and Wattenmaker (1987;see also Murphy and Medin 1985) undertake to “review evidence that suggests concepts should be viewed asembedded in theories” (34—5), a thesis which they clearly regard as tendentious, but which, as it is stated, it’s hard toimagine that anyone could disagree with. What I suppose they must have in mind is that concepts are somehowconstituted (their identity is somehow determined) by the theories in which they are embedded. But that claim, thoughtendentious enough, doesn’t amount to a new account of conceptual content; unless the ‘somehows’ are somehowcashed, it just reiterates IRS.

jean-marc pizano

The situation in Medin and Wattenmaker is especially confusing because its so hard to figure out what they think that the theory theory is a theory of; they are explicit that it’s supposed to provide an account of the

jean-marc pizano

If “object” means thing that causes appearances then, of course, the rule isn’t that objects disappear when you turn your back on them; it’s just that they cease, for the nonce, to cause you to experience them.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

“coherence” of concepts, but it’s far from clear what they think conceptual coherence is. At one point, having suggested that the theory theory should provide “guidelines concerning which combinations of features form possibleconcepts and which form coherent ones” (1987: 30), they offer, as an example of an incoherent concept, “bright red,flammable, eats mealworms, found in Lapland, and used for cleaning furniture”. So it sounds as though the questionabout conceptual coherence that the theory theory answers is: What’s wrong with this and other such concepts?

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

I rush past the implausibility of claiming that infants have to have that much ontology (in particular,that much dubious ontology) in order to learn quotidian object-concepts like CHAIR. I’m a nativist too, after all. Themore pressing problem for a theory theorist is: if that’s what ‘object’ means in the infant’s rule, in what sense are therediscontinuities in the development of the infant’s object-concept? On this reading of the text, it looks like what the infanthas—right from the start and right to the finish—is a concept of an object that’s much like Locke’s: objects areunobservable kinds of things that cause experiences. Correspondingly, cognitive development consists of learningmore and more about things of

Standard

Jean-marc pizano I rush past the implausibility of claiming that infants have to have that much ontology (in particular,that much dubious ontology) in order to learn quotidian object-concepts like CHAIR. I’m a nativist too, after all. Themore pressing problem for a theory theorist is: if that’s what ‘object’ means in the infant’s rule, in what sense are therediscontinuities in the development of the infant’s object-concept? On this reading of the text, it looks like what the infanthas—right from the start and right to the finish—is a concept of an object that’s much like Locke’s: objects areunobservable kinds of things that cause experiences. Correspondingly, cognitive development consists of learningmore and more about things of

 

this kind (e.g. that when you turn your back on one, it ceases to cause appearances in you . . . etc.).69 What, then, has become of the discontinuity of the object-concept? In particular, what’s become of the incommensurability of the infant’sobject-concept with grown-up Gopnik’s? It turns out that Gopnik can, after all, say exactly what (according to hertheory) the infant’s earliest concept of an object is: it’s the concept ofa theoretical entity which explains sequences of. . . etc.. ..

and which ceases to cause appearances in you when you turn your back on it… etc.

I suppose what Gopnik really ought to say, if she wants to be true to the implicit definition picture, is that the concept of an object is that of ‘AN X WHICH … ’, and that cognitive development consists in adding more and more relativeclauses. But it’s hard to see why such a thesis would count as construing concept development as discontinuous. And,anyhow, it’s hard to see how it could be swallowed by a meaning holist. Isn’t meaning holism, by definition, committedto there not being a notion of content identity that tolerates the addition of new information to the same old concept?

Jean-marc pizano

The local moral, to repeat, is that maybe you can make sense of concept introduction as implicit theoretical definition, and maybe you can make sense of meaning holism. But it’s very unclear that you can make sense of both at the sametime. The general moral is that, if the theory theory has a distinctive and coherent answer to the ‘What’s a concept?’question on offer, it’s a well-kept secret.

I should add, in minimal fairness, that it’s not clear that theory theorists are really all that interested in what concepts are. Certainly it’s often hard to tell whether they are from what they say. For example, Medin and Wattenmaker (1987;see also Murphy and Medin 1985) undertake to “review evidence that suggests concepts should be viewed asembedded in theories” (34—5), a thesis which they clearly regard as tendentious, but which, as it is stated, it’s hard toimagine that anyone could disagree with. What I suppose they must have in mind is that concepts are somehowconstituted (their identity is somehow determined) by the theories in which they are embedded. But that claim, thoughtendentious enough, doesn’t amount to a new account of conceptual content; unless the ‘somehows’ are somehowcashed, it just reiterates IRS.

The situation in Medin and Wattenmaker is especially confusing because its so hard to figure out what they think that the theory theory is a theory of; they are explicit that it’s supposed to provide an account of the

If “object” means thing that causes appearances then, of course, the rule isn’t that objects disappear when you turn your back on them; it’s just that they cease, for the nonce, to cause you to experience them.

Jean-marc pizano

“coherence” of concepts, but it’s far from clear what they think conceptual coherence is. At one point, having suggested that the theory theory should provide “guidelines concerning which combinations of features form possibleconcepts and which form coherent ones” (1987: 30), they offer, as an example of an incoherent concept, “bright red,flammable, eats mealworms, found in Lapland, and used for cleaning furniture”. So it sounds as though the questionabout conceptual coherence that the theory theory answers is: What’s wrong with this and other such concepts?

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.)

Standard

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.)

 

15

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.

Jean-marc pizano

16

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.

17

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.

Jean-marc pizano

18

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.

Jean-marc pizano

Похожие записи:
  1. 1 Philosophical Introduction: The BackgroundTheory