Just as it’s possible to dissociate the

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

20

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

23

jean-marc pizano

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.

24

jean-marc pizano

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.

26

jean-marc pizano

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.

Jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

Then came the Snake.What the Snake Said

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

Then came the Snake.

jean-marc pizano

What the Snake Said

‘I have here,’ the Snake said, ‘some stuff that will no doubt strike you, in your Innocence, as a sample of bona fide, original, straight off the shelf, X-ness. But come a little closer—come close enough to see how the stuff is puttogether—and you’ll see that it isn’t X after all. In fact, it’s some kind of Y

jean-marc pizano

—‘Sucks to how it’s put together,’ we replied, in our Innocence. ‘For a thing to strike us as of a kind with paradigm Xs just is for that thing to be an X. X-ness just is the property of being the kind of thing to which we do (or would)extrapolate from appropriate experience with typical Xs. Man is the measure; vide doorknobs.’

jean-marc pizano

—‘That,’ the Snake replied, ‘depends. Since we’re assuming from the start that Xs and Ys are, for practical purposes, indistinguishable in their effects on you, it follows that thinking of both Xs and Ys as Xs will do you no practical harm.For example, for purposes of longevity, reproductive efficiency, and the like, it’s all one whether you ingest only Xsunder the description ‘X or you ingest both Xs and Ys under that description. But that is ingest; I am in earnest. Ifyou want to carve Nature at the joints, if you want to know how the world seems to God, you will have to learn sometimesto distinguish between Xs and Ys even though they taste (and feel, and look, and sound, and quite generally strike youas) much the same. It’s entirely up to you of course. Far be it from me to twist your arm. (Sign here, please. In blood.)’

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

We fell for that, and it was, on balance, a fortunate Fall. The trouble with being Innocent is that, although how God made things sometimes shows up in broad similarities and differences in the way that they strike us (trees reliably strikeus as quite different from rocks; and they are), sometimes it only shows up in similarities and differences in the waythings

jean-marc pizano

strike us in very highly contrived, quite unnatural environments; experimental environments, as it might be. For it’s sometimes only in terms of a taxonomy that classifies things by similarities and differences among the ways that theydo (or would) behave in those sorts of environments, that we can specify the deep generalizations that the world obeys.We are, after all, peculiar and complicated sorts of objects. There is no obvious reason why similarity in respect of theway that things affect us should, in general, predict similarity in the way that they affect objects that are less peculiarthan us, or less complicated than us, or that are peculiar and complicated in different ways than us.36

jean-marc pizano

Unless, however, we contrive, with malice aforethought, that things should strike us as alike only if they are alike in respect of the deep sources of their causal powers: that they should strike us as alike only if they share their hiddenessences. So, for example, we can set things up so that the chemicals in the bottles will both turn the paper red (andthereby strike us as similar) if, but only if, they are both acids. Or, we can set things up so that both meters will registerthe same (and thereby strike us as similar) if, but only if, there’s the same amount of current in both the circuits; and soon. The moral is that whereas you lock to doorknobhood via a metaphysical necessity, if you want to lock to a natural kindproperty, you have actually to do the science.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

So much for the fairy tale. It’s intuitively plausible, phylogenetically, ontogenetically, and even just historically, to think of natural kind concepts as late sophistications that are somehow constructed on a prior cognitive capacity forconcepts of mind-dependent properties. But intuitively plausible is one thing, true is another. So, is it true? And, whatdoes “doing the science” amount to? How, having started out as Innocents with no concepts of natural kinds, could wehave got to where we are, with natural kind concepts like WATER? I turn to these questions in, more or less, thatorder.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

jean-marc pizano

Because the concepts we had back in the Garden were all concepts of mind-dependent properties, there was, back then, a kind of appearance/reality distinction that we never had to draw. We never had to worry about whether theremight be kinds of things which, though they satisfy the DOORKNOB stereotype, nevertheless are not doorknobs. Wenever had to worry that there might be something which, as it might be, had all the attributes of a doorknob but was, inits essence, a Twin-doorknob. Or, who knows, a giraffe.91

jean-marc pizano

But also, because we were Innocent, we didn’t have the concept WATER, or the concept CONSONANT, or the concept LEVER, or the concept STAR. Perhaps we had concepts that were (extensionally) sort of like these; perhapswe used to wonder who waters the plants. But, if so, these concepts were importantly different from the homophoniccounterparts that we have now. For it’s compatible with the real concept WATER that there should be stuff that strikesus as being of the very same kind as instances of the water stereotype but that isn’t water because it has the wrong kindof hidden essence (XYZ, perhaps). And it‘s compatible with the real concept STAR that there should be things thatstrike us as very different from paradigm stars, but which do have the right kind of hidden essences and are thereforestars after all (a black dwarf, perhaps; or the Sun). And it‘s compatible with the concept CONSONANT that we havenow that there should be sorts of things that strike us as neither clearly consonants nor clearly not consonants butwhich, because they have the right kinds of hidden essences, really are consonants whether or not we think they are (lsand rs, perhaps).

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

I’ll presently have much more to say about what concept of water we could have had in the Garden; and about how it would have been different

jean-marc pizano

There were, to be sure, faux doorknobs, fake doorknobs, trompe l’œil doorknobs, and the like; these were particulars which looked, at first glance, to satisfy the doorknob stereotype but, on closer examination, turned out not to do so. Doorknob vs. trompe l œildoorknob is a distinction within mind-dependent properties; hence quite differentfrom the difference between doorknob and, as it might be, water. (In consequence, drawing an appearance/reality distinction is not all there is to being a metaphysicalessentialist. See n. 92 .)

jean-marc pizano

I don’t, myself, advise it. Grant that children think that properties that don’t appear can matter to whether a thing is a horse. It isn’t implied that they think what a bona fide essentialist should: that there are properties (other than being a horse) that necessitate a thing’s being a horse. But, for present purposes, nevenever mind.

jean-marc pizano

from the concept of water that we have now. And about how to square that difference with what an atomistic and informational semantics says about the individuation of concepts. But this will do to be getting on with: back in theGarden, when we were Innocent, we never thought about kinds of things which, though they are much the same intheir effects on us, are not much the same in their effects on one another. Or about kinds of things which, though theyare much the same in their effects on one another, are strikingly different in their effects on us. Back in the Garden,when we were Innocent, we took it for granted that there isn’t any difference between similarity for us and similarity sansphrase, between the way we carve the world up and the way that God does.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

The model, to repeat, is being red: all that’s required for us to get locked to redness is that red things should reliably seem to us as they do, in fact, reliably seem to the visually unimpaired. Correspondingly, all that needs to be innate for REDto be acquired is whatever the mechanisms are that determine that red things strike us as they do; which is to say thatall that needs to be innate is the sensorium. Ditto, mutatis mutandis, for DOORKNOB if being a doorknob is like being red:what has to be innately given to get us locked to doorknobhood is whatever mechanisms are required for doorknobs tocome to strike us as such. Put slightly differently: if the locking story about concept possession and the mind-dependence story about the metaphysics of doorknobhood are both true, then the kind of nativism about DOORKNOBthat an informational atomist has to put up with is perhaps not one of concepts but of mechanisms. That consequence maybe some consolation to otherwise disconsolate Empiricists.

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

The model, to repeat, is being red: all that’s required for us to get locked to redness is that red things should reliably seem to us as they do, in fact, reliably seem to the visually unimpaired. Correspondingly, all that needs to be innate for REDto be acquired is whatever the mechanisms are that determine that red things strike us as they do; which is to say thatall that needs to be innate is the sensorium. Ditto, mutatis mutandis, for DOORKNOB if being a doorknob is like being red:what has to be innately given to get us locked to doorknobhood is whatever mechanisms are required for doorknobs tocome to strike us as such. Put slightly differently: if the locking story about concept possession and the mind-dependence story about the metaphysics of doorknobhood are both true, then the kind of nativism about DOORKNOBthat an informational atomist has to put up with is perhaps not one of concepts but of mechanisms. That consequence maybe some consolation to otherwise disconsolate Empiricists.

jean-marc pizano

I suppose the philosophically interesting question about whether there are innate ideas is whether there are innate ideas. It is, after all, the thought that the ‘initial state’ from which concept acquisition proceeds must be specified inintentional terms (terms like ‘content’, ‘belief’, etc.) that connects the issues about concept innateness with theepistemological issues about a prioricity and the like. (By contrast, I suppose the ethologically interesting question is notwhether what’s innate is strictly speaking intentional, but whether it is domain specific and/or species specific. Perhapsyou find the ethologically interesting question more interesting than the philosophically interesting question. Andperhaps you’re right to do so. Still, they are different questions.) Correspondingly, the ‘innate sensorium’ model suggeststhat the question how much is innate in concept acquisition can be quite generally dissociated from the questionwhether any concepts are innate. The sensorium is innate by assumption, and there would quite likely be no acquiringsensory concepts but that this is so. But, to repeat, the innateness of the sensorium isn’t the innateness of anything thathas intentional content. Since the sensorium isn’t an idea, it is a fortiori not an innate idea. So, strictly speaking, theinnate sensorium model of the acquisition of RED doesn’t require that it, or any other concept, be innate.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

To be sure, RED and DOORKNOB could both be innate for all I’ve said so far. But the main motivation for saying that they are is either that one finds inductivist theories of concept acquisition intrinsically attractive, or that noticingthe d/D effect has convinced one that some such theory must be true whether or not it’s attractive. Well, SA blocksthe first motivation. And, as we’ve been seeing, it may be that the explanation of the d/D effect is metaphysical ratherthan psychological. In which case, unless I’ve missed something, there isn’t any obvious reason why the initial state forDOORKNOB acquisition needs to be intentionally specified. A fortiori, there isn’t any obvious reason whyDOORKNOB needs to be innate. NOT EVEN IF IT’S PRIMITIVE. The moral of all this may be that though therehas to be a story to tell about the structural requirements for acquiring DOORKNOB, intentional vocabulary isn’trequired to tell it. In which case, it isn’t part of cognitive psychology.

jean-marc pizano

Not even of “cognitive neuropsychology”, if there is such a thing (which I doubt). Suppose we were able to specify, in neurological vocabulary, the initial state from which DOORKNOB acquisition proceeds. The question would thenarise whether the neurological state so specified is intentional—whether it has conditions of semantic evaluation (and,if so, what they are). So far, we haven’t found a reason for supposing that it does. To be sure, it is an innate, possiblyquite complicated, state from which DOORKNOB may be acquired, given experience of e.g. doorknobs. But this is allneutral as to whether the initial state is an intentional state; it’s all true whether or not the initial state is an intentional state.So it‘s all true whether or not the initial state for DOORKNOB acquisition is in the domain of cognitiveneuropsychology (as opposed, as it were, to neuropsychology tout court).

jean-marc pizano

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

Standard

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

 

jean-marc pizano

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?

jean-marc pizano

Help!

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

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?

jean-marc pizano

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.

jean-marc pizano

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

Jean-marc pizano

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

Names, by contrast, succeed in their job because they aren’t compositional; not even when they are syntactically complex. Consider ‘the Iron Duke’, to which ‘Iron’ does not contribute iron, and which you can therefore use to specifythe Iron Duke even if you don’t know what he was made of. Names are nicer than descriptions because you don’t haveto know much to specify their bearers, although you do have to know what their bearers are called. Descriptions arenicer than names because, although you do have to know a lot to specify their bearers, you don’t have to know whattheir bearers are called. What’s nicer than having the use of either names or descriptions is having the use of both. Iagree that, as a piece of semantic theory, this is all entirely banal; but that’s my point, so don’t complain. There is, torepeat, no need for fancy arguments that the representational systems we talk and think in are in large partcompositional; you find the effects of their compositionality just about wherever you look.

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

Names, by contrast, succeed in their job because they aren’t compositional; not even when they are syntactically complex. Consider ‘the Iron Duke’, to which ‘Iron’ does not contribute iron, and which you can therefore use to specifythe Iron Duke even if you don’t know what he was made of. Names are nicer than descriptions because you don’t haveto know much to specify their bearers, although you do have to know what their bearers are called. Descriptions arenicer than names because, although you do have to know a lot to specify their bearers, you don’t have to know whattheir bearers are called. What’s nicer than having the use of either names or descriptions is having the use of both. Iagree that, as a piece of semantic theory, this is all entirely banal; but that’s my point, so don’t complain. There is, torepeat, no need for fancy arguments that the representational systems we talk and think in are in large partcompositional; you find the effects of their compositionality just about wherever you look.

jean-marc pizano

I must apologize for having gone on at such length about the arguments pro and con conceptual compositionality; the reason I’ve done so is that, in my view, the status of the statistical theory of concepts turns, practically entirely, on thisissue. And statistical theories are now the preferred accounts of concepts practically throughout cognitive science. Inwhat follows I will take the compositionality of conceptual repertoires for granted, and try to make clear how the thesisthat concepts are prototypes falls afoul of it.

jean-marc pizano

Why Concepts Can’t Be Prototypes^

Jean-marc pizano

Here’s why concepts can’t be prototypes: whatever conceptual content is, compositionality requires that complex concepts inherit their contents from those of their constituents, and that they do so in a way that explains theirproductivity and systematicity. Accordingly, whatever is not inherited from its constituents by a complex concept is ipsofacto not the content of that concept. But: (i) indefinitely many complex concepts have no prototypes; a fortiori they donot inherit their prototypes from their constituents. And, (ii) there are indefinitely many complex concepts whoseprototypes aren’t related to the prototypes of their constituents in the ways that the compositional explanation ofproductivity and systematicity requires. So, again, if concepts are compositional then they can‘t be prototypes.

jean-marc pizano

In short, prototypes don’t compose. Since this is the heart of the case against statistical theories of concepts, I propose to expatiate a bit on the examples.

jean-marc pizano

(I) The Uncat Problem

For indefinitely many “Boolean” concepts,57there isn’t any prototype even though: —their primitive constituent concepts all have prototypes,

jean-marc pizano

and

jean-marc pizano

–the complex concept itself has definite conditions of semantic evaluation (definite satisfaction conditions).

jean-marc pizano

So, for example, consider the concept NOT A CAT (mutatis mutandis, the predicate ‘is not a cat’); and let’s suppose (probably contrary to fact) that CAT isn’t vague; i.e. that ‘is a cat’ has either the value S or the value U for every objectin the relevant universe of discourse. Then, clearly, there is a definite semantic interpretation for NOT A CAT; i.e. itexpresses the property of not being a cat, a property which all and only objects in the extension of the complement of theset of cats instantiate.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

However, although NOT A CAT is semantically entirely well behaved on these assumptions, it‘s pretty clear that it hasn’t got a stereotype or an exemplar. For consider: a bagel is a pretty good example of a NOT A CAT, but a bagelcouldn’t be NOT A CAT’s prototype. Why not? Well, if bagels are the prototypic NOT A CATs, it follows that themore a thing is like a bagel the less it’s like a cat; and the more a thing isn’t like a cat, the more it’s like a bagel. But the secondconjunct is patently not true. Tuesdays and erasers, both of which are very good examples of NOT A CATs, aren’t atall like bagels. An Eraser is not more a Bagel for being a bad Cat. Notice that the same sort of argument goes throughif you are thinking of stereotypes in terms of features rather than exemplars. There is nothing that non-cats qua noncats as such are likely to have in common (except, of course, not being cats).58

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

Something like that went on in philosophy too. Philosophers cared about definitions because they offered a handy construal of the thesis that inferential connections are sometimes intrinsic to the concepts that enter into them: viz.complex concepts are constituted by their inferential relations to the concepts in their definitions. Correspondingly, philosophicalaffection for definitions waned when intrinsic conceptual connectedness fell into disrepute (as it did in the US inconsequence of Quine’s strictures on analyticity) and when epistemological construals of intrinsic conceptualconnectedness bade fare to displace semantic ones (as they did in the UK in the criteriological philosophy ofWittgenstein and his followers).

Standard

Jean-marc pizano

Something like that went on in philosophy too. Philosophers cared about definitions because they offered a handy construal of the thesis that inferential connections are sometimes intrinsic to the concepts that enter into them: viz.complex concepts are constituted by their inferential relations to the concepts in their definitions. Correspondingly, philosophicalaffection for definitions waned when intrinsic conceptual connectedness fell into disrepute (as it did in the US inconsequence of Quine’s strictures on analyticity) and when epistemological construals of intrinsic conceptualconnectedness bade fare to displace semantic ones (as they did in the UK in the criteriological philosophy ofWittgenstein and his followers).

jean-marc pizano

Philosophers do like the idea of there being lots of intrinsic connections among concepts; even philosophers who think there aren’t any often sort of wish that there were. The idea is that an inference that constitutes the concepts whichenter into it can be known a priori to be sound. Andinferences that can be known a priori to be sound are prized by philosophers because they are useful for boppingsceptics over the head with. Thus:

jean-marc pizano

Sceptic. You can‘t ever infer with certainty from how things look to how they are.

jean-marc pizano

Antisceptic. Can too, because there is an intrinsic conceptual connection between how-things-look concepts and how-things-are concepts (between behaviour-concepts and mind-concepts; between is-concepts and ought-concepts, etc. etc.). Bop. I win.

Jean-marc pizano

Sceptic. I don’t acknowledge such intrinsic connections.

Antisceptic. Then you don’t have the concepts! Bop. I still win.

jean-marc pizano

And even philosophers who don’t care much about scepticism sometimes get hooked on intrinsic conceptual connectedness out of their concern for full employment. What else but constitutive connections among concepts isthere for a philosophical analysis to be the philosophical analysis of? And, if there are no philosophical analyses, whatare analytic philosophers for?

In short, when philosophers opt for definitions it’s usually less because they’re independently convinced that the theory of language or the theory of mind requires them than because constitutive conceptual connectedness seems worthhaving if buying into definitions is the cost. There may be some other way to get such connections (see Appendix 5A),but definitions are a convenient way, and one which, unlike criteriology, can be scrupulous about keeping epistemologyout of semantics.

jean-marc pizano

So, if you’re interested in what philosophers have to say that bears on whether concepts are definitions, it’s their discussions of conceptual connectedness that are most likely to be relevant. These days, what one often hears listeningin on such discussions is some version of the following line of thought.

—It’s right that you can’t infer that there are intrinsic conceptual connections simply from the premiss that if there were, they would be useful for antisceptical employment.

jean-marc pizano

—However, Quine’s arguments that there are no such connections aren’t conclusive; in fact, nobody seems to be able to agree about exactly what Quine’s arguments are.

Jean-marc pizano

—There is a field of data for the explanation of which the notion of intrinsic conceptual connection appears to be well suited. These data include intuitions that certain propositions are analytic (hence necessary, hence apriori). Paradigms are no bachelors are married, Tuesdays precede Wednesdays, and so on. There are, as you’d expect,also the corresponding intuitions about concept possession.; no one who lacked the concept MARRIED couldhave the concept BACHELOR; no one who lacked the concept WEEKDAY or the concept WEDNESDAYcould have the concept TUESDAY, and so on. This is all as it should be. If a connection between two conceptsis constitutive, you can’t have the one unless you have the other.

jean-marc pizano

—Given that there are these intuitions, we are justified in appealing to a notion of intrinsic conceptual connectedness as a sort of theoretical posit, even if we can’t produce a satisfactory account of such connectionscash in hand.

jean-marc pizano

—Maybe whatever explication of intrinsic conceptual connection proves, eventually, to account for these intuitions will correspondingly elucidate such notions as definition, analyticity, aprioricity, and the rest. Maybe it will even dosome work against sceptics, who knows? Anyhow, since the intuitions are strong and the a priori argumentsagainst analyticity aren’t conclusive, it’s not reasonable to take for granted that there are no intrinsic conceptualconnections.Jean-marc pizano