Concepts

Edited by Daniel Weiskopf (Georgia State University)
About this topic
Summary Concepts are the basic elements of thought. One of their primary functions is to connect the mind to the world; thus, to have a concept is to have available a way of thinking about something. There are concepts of particular individuals, general categories, natural kinds and artifacts, properties and relations, actions and events, and so forth. Concepts are also used in formulating beliefs, desires, plans, and other complex thoughts and judgments. They therefore play an important role in explaining cognitive processes such as categorization, inductive inference, causal reasoning, and decision making.
Key works A collection of influential readings that makes a good starting point in getting acquainted with how theories of concepts have been handled in modern cognitive science is Margolis & Laurence 1999. An overview of the key phenomena that theories of concepts aim to cover, as well as the major theories themselves, can be found in the opening chapters of Prinz 2002. Fodor 1998 presents a critique of the major assumptions lying behind these theories.
Introductions General reviews of the subject may be found in Laurence & Margolis 1999 and Weiskopf 2013.
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  1. Defending Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering.Matthieu Queloz - forthcoming - Analysis.
    In this paper, I respond to three critical notices of The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering, written by Cheryl Misak, Alexander Prescott-Couch, and Paul Roth, respectively. After contrasting genealogical conceptual reverse-engineering with conceptual reverse-engineering, I discuss pragmatic genealogy’s relation to history. I argue that it would be a mistake to understand pragmatic genealogy as a fiction (or a model, or an idealization) as opposed to a form of historical explanation. That would be to rely on precisely the (...)
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  2. Foreword to the Middle Way Philosophy Series.Iain McGilchrist - 2022 - In Robert M. Ellis (ed.), Absolutization: The Source of Dogma, Repression, and Conflict. Equinox Publishing.
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  3. Briefly, “What are concepts?” and the handmaiden of colonialism again.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper makes two criticisms of the book Key Concepts in Social and Cultural Anthropology, by Nigel Rapport and Joanna Overing. The second criticism is that they do not acknowledge the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges as the conceiver of the fictional Chinese encyclopaedia. What they say raises the worry that anthropologists have not moved on much from being the handmaiden of colonialism.
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  4. Conceptos, flexibilidad semántica y caracterizaciones asociativas.Mariela Aguilera - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  5. Conceptos lógicos y caracterizaciones asociativas.Elisabeth Camp - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  6. Estados cognitivos de magnitudes analógicas y conceptos.Laura Danón - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  7. El requisito de generalidad y la estructura del pensamiento.Jacob Beck - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  8. Poniendo en marcha los pensamientos : conceptos, sistemacidad e independencia del estímulo.Elisabeth Camp - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  9. Conceptos, conexiones causales y conexiones normativas.Federico Castellano - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  10. Pensamiento y lenguaje.Daniel Kalpokas - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  11. Dos argumentos a favor de la dependencia del pensamiento conceptual respecto del lenguaje.José Luis Bermúdez - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  12. Una concepción cognitivista acerca de los conceptos.Carolina Scotto - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  13. Qué son los conceptos?Hans-Johann Glock - 2015 - In Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.), Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición. Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  14. Conceptos, lenguaje y cognición.Mariela Aguilera, Laura Danón, Carolina Scotto & Elisabeth Camp (eds.) - 2015 - [Córdoba, Argentina]: Editorial Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
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  15. The abstraction engine: extracting patterns in language, mind and brain.Michael D. Fortescue - 2017 - Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    The main thesis of this book is that abstraction, far from being confined to higher forms of cognition, language and logical reasoning, has actually been a major driving force throughout the evolution of creatures with brains. It is manifest in emotive as well as rational thought. Wending its way through the various facets of abstraction, the book attempts to clarify - and relate - the often confusing meanings of the word 'abstract' that one may encounter even within the same discipline. (...)
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  16. Concetti e processi di categorizzazione.Francesco Gagliardi, Marco Cruciani & Andrea Velardi (eds.) - 2018 - Canterano (RM): Aracne editrice.
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  17. Absolutization: the source of dogma, repression, and conflict.Robert M. Ellis - 2022 - Bristol, CT: Equinox Publishing.
    This book puts forward a theory of absolutization, bringing together a multi-disciplinary understanding of this central flaw in human judgement, and what we can do about it. This approach, drawing on Buddhist thought and practice, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, embodied meaning and systems theory, offers a rigorous introduction to absolutization as the central problem addressed in Middle Way Philosophy, which is a synthetic approach developed by the author over more than twenty years in a series of books. It challenges disciplinary boundaries (...)
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  18. Foreword to the Middle Way Philosophy Series.Iain McGilchrist - 2022 - In Robert M. Ellis (ed.), Absolutization: the source of dogma, repression, and conflict. Equinox Publishing.
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  19. What Are Abstract Concepts? On Lexical Ambiguity and Concreteness Ratings.Guido Löhr - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (3):549-566.
    In psycholinguistics, concepts are considered abstract if they do not apply to physical objects that we can touch, see, feel, hear, smell or taste. Psychologists usually distinguish concrete from abstract concepts by means of so-called _concreteness ratings_. In concreteness rating studies, laypeople are asked to rate the concreteness of words based on the above criterion. The wide use of concreteness ratings motivates an assessment of them. I point out two problems: First, most current concreteness ratings test the intuited concreteness of (...)
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  20. Conceptos, contenido y cognición: una propuesta comunitarista para la determinación del contenido.Erika Torres - 2020 - Dissertation, National Autonomous University of Mexico
    La tesis aborda uno de los temas centrales en la filosofía de la mente y las ciencias cognitivas: los conceptos como unidades básicas de la cognición humana. La tesis central que se defiende es que el contenido de los conceptos es determinado parcialmente por las comunidades a las que pertenecen los sujetos cognitivos, en la medida en la que dichas comunidades guían y constriñen las interacciones entre el sistema cognitivo conceptual y el entorno del que forma conceptos. La novedad de (...)
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  21. Thinking Off Your Feet: Reply to My Critics.Michael Strevens - 2022 - Analysis 82 (2):343-353.
  22. Précis of "Thinking Off Your Feet".Michael Strevens - 2022 - Analysis 82 (2):303-306.
    Précis of "Thinking Off Your Feet".
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  23. Meanings of Pain, Volume 3: Vulnerable or Special Groups of People.Simon Van Rysewyk - 2022 - Springer.
    - First book to describe what pain means in vulnerable or special groups of people - Clinical applications described in each chapter - Provides insight into the nature of pain experience across the lifespan -/- This book, the third and final volume in the Meaning of Pain series, describes what pain means to people with pain in “vulnerable” groups, and how meaning changes pain – and them – over time. -/- Immediate pain warns of harm or injury to the person (...)
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  24. The role of language in building abstract, generalized conceptual representations of one- and two-place predicates: A comparison between adults and infants.Mohinish Shukla & Jill de Villiers - 2021 - Cognition 213 (C):104705.
    Theories of relations between language and conceptual development benefit from empirical evidence for concepts available in infancy, but such evidence is comparatively scarce. Here, we examine early representations of specific concepts, namely, sets of dynamic events corresponding either to predicates involving two variables with a reversible, asymmetric relation between them (such as the set of all events that correspond to a linguistic phrase like “a dog is pushing a car,”) or to comparatively simpler, one-variable predicates (such as the set of (...)
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  25. Nonsense: a user's guide.Manish Oza - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Many philosophers suppose that sometimes we think we are saying or thinking something meaningful when in fact we’re not saying or thinking anything at all: we are producing nonsense. But what is nonsense? An account of nonsense must, I argue, meet two constraints. The first constraint requires that nonsense can be rationally engaged with, not just mentioned. In particular, we can reason with nonsense and use it within that-clauses. An account which fails to meet this constraint cannot explain why nonsense (...)
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  26. Teleological essentialism across development.Rose David, Sara Jaramillo, Shaun Nichols & Zachary Horne - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Do young children have a teleological conception of the essence of natural kinds? We tested this by examining how the preservation or alteration of an animal’s purpose affected children’s persistence judgments (N = 40, ages 4 - 12, Mean Age = 7.04, 61% female). We found that even when surface-level features of an animal (e.g., a bee) were preserved, if the entity’s purpose changed (e.g., the bee now spins webs), children were more likely to categorize the entity as a member (...)
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  27. Modelling Equivalent Definitions of Concepts.Daniele Porello - 2015 - In Modeling and Using Context - 9th International and Interdisciplinary Conference, {CONTEXT} 2015, Lanarca, Cyprus, November 2-6, 2015. Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 9405. pp. 506-512.
    We introduce the notions of syntactic synonymy and referential syn- onymy due to Moschovakis. Those notions are capable of accounting for fine- grained aspects of the meaning of linguistic expressions, by formalizing the Fregean distinction between sense and denotation. We integrate Moschovakis’s theory with the theory of concepts developed in the foundational ontology DOLCE, in order to enable a formal treatment of equivalence between concepts.
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  28. Concept Combination in Weighted Logic.Guendalina Righetti, Claudio Masolo, Nicolas Toquard, Oliver Kutz & Daniele Porello - 2021 - In Proceedings of the Joint Ontology Workshops 2021 Episode {VII:} The Bolzano Summer of Knowledge co-located with the 12th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems {(FOIS} 2021), and the 12th Internati.
    We present an algorithm for concept combination inspired and informed by the research in cognitive and experimental psychology. Dealing with concept combination requires, from a symbolic AI perspective, to cope with competitive needs: the need for compositionality and the need to account for typicality effects. Building on our previous work on weighted logic, the proposed algorithm can be seen as a step towards the management of both these needs. More precisely, following a proposal of Hampton [1], it combines two weighted (...)
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  29. Simposio del libro Sobre el análisis de Axel Barceló. Précis de Sobre el análisis.Axel Barceló - 2021 - Dianoia 66 (87):101-108.
    Resumen La metáfora de la "descomposición" domina aún nuestra manera usual de pensar el análisis conceptual. Se trata de una herramienta muy útil para pensar este proceso tan abstracto, pero tiene limitaciones importantes. Por ejemplo, nos hace pensar que los componentes de un concepto deben estar en algún sentido contenidos en él o que la única manera en que dos conceptos pueden estar relacionados es que uno contenga al otro. Estas limitaciones no nos permiten dar cuenta de conceptos complejos cuya (...)
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  30. An Introduction to Hard and Soft Data Fusion via Conceptual Spaces Modeling for Space Event Characterization.Jeremy Chapman, David Kasmier, John L. Crassidis, James L. Llinas, Barry Smith & Alex P. Cox - 2021 - In National Symposium on Sensor & Data Fusion (NSSDF), Military Sensing Symposia (MSS).
    This paper describes an AFOSR-supported basic research program that focuses on developing a new framework for combining hard with soft data in order to improve space situational awareness. The goal is to provide, in an automatic and near real-time fashion, a ranking of possible threats to blue assets (assets trying to be protected) from red assets (assets with hostile intentions). The approach is based on Conceptual Spaces models, which combine features from traditional associative and symbolic cognitive models. While Conceptual Spaces (...)
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  31. Systematizität der Sprache und Systematizität des Denkens bei Destutt de Tracy.Lucia Oliveri - 2020 - In Kurt Bayertz und Nikola Anna Kompa und Niko Strobach (ed.), Das Projekt einer ‚Idéologie‘ Destutt de Tracys Ideenlehre als Wissenschaftsbewegung der Spätaufklärung. Amburgo, Germania: pp. 61-84.
    Destutt de Tracy zielt darauf ab, zu erklären, wie inter- und transsubjektive Prozesse auf das einzelne Individuum wirken und es gestalten. Dafür braucht er eine externalistische Sprachtheorie und eine sensualistische kognitive Architektur, nach der Denken Empfinden ist. Das Denken ist relational, aber wird nicht auf kognitiver Ebene durch sprachähnliche Strukturen – durch die Syntax und Semantik einer Mentalsprache – implementiert. Obwohl Externalismus und sensualistische Architektur in eine inkohärente Theorie zu münden scheinen, versucht Destutt de Tracy die Spannung durch seine Entwicklungsgeschichte (...)
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  32. On Concepts and Ideas: Themes from G. W. Leibniz's New Essays.Lucia Oliveri - 2016 - In Christoph Kann David Hommen (ed.), Concepts and Categorization Systematic and Historical Perspectives. Münster, Germania: pp. 141-167.
    The topic of my paper is the virtual controversy between Leibniz and Lockeover concepts and ideas. At the end of the 17th century John Locke made a crucial contribution to semantics and philosophy: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The work represents a decisive turning point for the discussion about ideas and innatism. Indeed, Locke’s aim was to dismantle the Cartesian theory according to which ideas are innate in our soul. Against this onto-epistemological thesis, Locke maintains that all our knowledge starts (...)
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  33. Numbers, numerosities, and new directions.Jacob Beck & Sam Clarke - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44:1-20.
    In our target article, we argued that the number sense represents natural and rational numbers. Here, we respond to the 26 commentaries we received, highlighting new directions for empirical and theoretical research. We discuss two background assumptions, arguments against the number sense, whether the approximate number system represents numbers or numerosities, and why the ANS represents rational numbers.
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  34. The number sense represents (rational) numbers.Sam Clarke & Jacob Beck - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44:1-57.
    On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals possess a “number sense,” or approximate number system, that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques that question whether the ANS genuinely represents number. We distinguish three lines of critique – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. We then provide positive reasons to think that the ANS genuinely represents numbers, and not just non-numerical confounds or exotic substitutes for (...)
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  35. Concept Pluralism in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1.
    In this paper, I argue that an adequate meta-semantic framework capable of accommodating the range of projects currently identified as projects in conceptual engineering must be sensitive to the fact that concepts (and hence projects relating to them) fall into distinct kinds. Concepts can vary, I will argue, with respect to their direction of determination, their modal range, and their temporal range. Acknowledging such variations yields a preliminary taxonomy of concepts and generates a meta-semantic framework that allows us both to (...)
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  36. Concepts and the Appeal to Cognitive Science.Samuel D. Taylor - 2021 - Düsseldorf University Press.
    This book evaluates whether or not we can decide on the best theory of concepts by appealing to the explanatory results of cognitive science. It undertakes an in-depth analysis of different theories of concepts and of the explanations formulated in cognitive science. As a result, two reasons are provided for thinking that an appeal to cognitive science cannot help to decide on the best theory of concepts.
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  37. Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition. Volume Three: Concept Formation.Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist & Juhana Toivanen (eds.) - 2022 - Boston: Brill.
  38. Conceptual Roles of Evolvability across Evolutionary Biology: Between Diversity and Unification.Cristina Villegas, Alan C. Love, Laura Nuño de la Rosa, Ingo Brigandt & Günter P. Wagner - 2023 - In Thomas F. Hansen, David Houle, Mihaela Pavličev & Christophe Pélabon (eds.), Evolvability: A Unifying Concept in Evolutionary Biology? MIT Press. pp. 35–54.
    A number of biologists and philosophers have noted the diversity of interpretations of evolvability in contemporary evolutionary research. Different clusters of research defined by co-citation patterns or shared methodological orientation sometimes concentrate on distinct conceptions of evolvability. We examine five different activities where the notion of evolvability plays conceptual roles in evolutionary biological investigation: setting a research agenda, characterization, explanation, prediction, and control. Our analysis of representative examples demonstrates how different conceptual roles of evolvability are quasi-independent and yet exhibit important (...)
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  39. Leibniz and Bolzano on conceptual containment.Jan Claas - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy (3):1-19.
    Philosophers often rely on the notion of conceptual containment and apply mereological terminology when they talk about the parts or constituents of a complex concept. In this paper, I explore two historical approaches to this general notion. In particular, I reconstruct objections Bernard Bolzano puts forward against a criterion that played a prominent role in the history of philosophy and that was endorsed, among others, by Leibniz. According to this criterion, a concept that represents objects contains all and only the (...)
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  40. Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias.Del Pinal Guillermo & Spaulding Shannon - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):95-111.
    How are biases encoded in our representations of social categories? Philosophical and empirical discussions of implicit bias overwhelmingly focus on salient or statistical associations between target features and representations of social categories. These are the sorts of associations probed by the Implicit Association Test and various priming tasks. In this paper, we argue that these discussions systematically overlook an alternative way in which biases are encoded, that is, in the dependency networks that are part of our representations of social categories. (...)
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  41. Ideas in Knowing and Willing.George P. Adams - 1926 - University of California Publications in Philosophy 8:25-48.
  42. Ideas that Work.Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - Aeon:1–8.
    Truth, knowledge, justice – to understand how our loftiest abstractions earn their keep, trace them to their practical origins.
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  43. Tracing Concepts to Needs.Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - The Philosopher 109 (3):34–39.
    Why is the concept of truth so important to us? After all, it is not at all obvious why human intelligence would have evolved to do anything other than to dissimulate, deceive, cheat, and trick. Pragmatic genealogies like the genealogies of the value of truth told by Nietzsche and Williams can help us grasp why we think as we do. But instead of explaining concepts by tracing them to antecedent objects in reality, they trace them to practical needs and reverse-engineer (...)
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  44. Universali/particolari.Guido Bonino - 2008 - Bologna: Il Mulino.
    Esiste, oltre alle singole cose rosse, la proprietà universale "rosso"? O esistono invece solo le entità individuali e particolari? Come spiegare il fatto che più entità tra loro distinte possono essere tuttavia uguali per un determinato aspetto? E che cos'è che distingue due entità che condividano esattamente le stesse proprietà? Questi sono alcuni dei problemi che costituiscono la questione degli universali e dei particolari, che, a partire dai dialoghi platonici e dalla metafisica di Aristotele, ha sempre rappresentato uno dei nodi (...)
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  45. Studies in No-Self Physicalism.Feng Ye - manuscript
    This book develops and defends a version of physicalism in contemporary philosophy of mind, called ‘No-Self Physicalism’. No-Self Physicalism emphasizes that a subject of cognition is itself a physical entity, a human brain (and body). -/- The book first argues (in Chapters 1 and 2) that many contemporary philosophers who openly accept physicalism in fact (though perhaps unconsciously and/or implicitly) take the stance of a non-physical Subject in understanding and using core philosophical notions, such as conceptual representation, truth, analyticity, modality, (...)
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  46. Cognitive Structuralism: Explaining the Regularity of the Natural Numbers Progression.Paula Quinon - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):127-149.
    According to one of the most powerful paradigms explaining the meaning of the concept of natural number, natural numbers get a large part of their conceptual content from core cognitive abilities. Carey’s bootstrapping provides a model of the role of core cognition in the creation of mature mathematical concepts. In this paper, I conduct conceptual analyses of various theories within this paradigm, concluding that the theories based on the ability to subitize (i.e., to assess anexactquantity of the elements in a (...)
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  47. Ressentiment As Morally Disclosive Posture? Conceptual Issues from a Psychological Point of View.Natalie Rodax, Markus Wrbouschek, Katharina Hametner, Sara Paloni, Nora Ruck & Leonard Brixel - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-17.
    In psychological research, ressentiment is alluded to as a negative emotional response directed at social groups that are mostly marked as ‘inferior others’. However, conceptual work on this notion is sorely missing. In our conceptual proposal, we use the notion of ‘moral emotions’ as a starting point: typically referred to as “other-condemning” moral emotions, psychologists have loosely conceptualised anger, contempt and disgust as a set of negative emotions that have distinct elicitors and involve affective responses to sanction moral misconduct of (...)
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  48. Let Me Make You Happy, and I'll Tell You How You Look Around: Using an Approach-Avoidance Task as an Embodied Emotion Prime in a Free-Viewing Task.Artur Czeszumski, Friederike Albers, Sven Walter & Peter König - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    The embodied approach of human cognition suggests that concepts are deeply dependent upon and constrained by an agent's physical body's characteristics, such as performed body movements. In this study, we attempted to broaden previous research on emotional priming, investigating the interaction of emotions and visual exploration. We used the joystick-based approach-avoidance task to influence the emotional states of participants, and subsequently, we presented pictures of news web pages on a computer screen and measured participant's eye movements. As a result, the (...)
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  49. Ontology (Science).Barry Smith - 2008 - In Carola Eschenbach & Mike Grüninger (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference (FOIS 2008). Amsterdam: IOS Press. pp. 21-35.
    Increasingly, in data-intensive areas of the life sciences, experimental results are being described in algorithmically useful ways with the help of ontologies. Such ontologies are authored and maintained by scientists to support the retrieval, integration and analysis of their data. The proposition to be defended here is that ontologies of this type – the Gene Ontology (GO) being the most conspicuous example – are a part of science. Initial evidence for the truth of this proposition (which some will find self-evident) (...)
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  50. Assessing abstract thought and its relation to language with a new nonverbal paradigm: Evidence from aphasia.Peter Langland-Hassan, Frank R. Faries, Maxwell Gatyas, Aimee Dietz & Michael J. Richardson - 2021 - Cognition 211 (C):104622.
    In recent years, language has been shown to play a number of important cognitive roles over and above the communication of thoughts. One hypothesis gaining support is that language facilitates thought about abstract categories, such as democracy or prediction. To test this proposal, a novel set of semantic memory task trials, designed for assessing abstract thought non-linguistically, were normed for levels of abstractness. The trials were rated as more or less abstract to the degree that answering them required the participant (...)
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