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The Big Book of Concepts

MIT Press (2004)

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  1. Engineering Social Concepts: Labels and the Science of Categorization.Eleonore Neufeld - manuscript
    One of the core insights from Eleanor Rosch’s work on categorization is that human categorization isn’t arbitrary. Instead, two psychological principles constrain possible systems of classification for all human cultures. According to these principles, the task of a category system is to provide maximum information with the least cognitive effort, and the perceived world provides us with structured rather than arbitrary features. In this paper, I show that Rosch's insights give us important resources for making progress on the 'feasibility question' (...)
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  • Similarity in conceptual analysis and concept as proper function.Louis Chartrand - unknown
    In the last decades, experimental philosophers have introduced the notion that conceptual analysis could use empirical evidence to back some of its claims. This opens up the possibility for the development of a corpus-based conceptual analysis. However, progress in this direction is contingent on the development of a proper account of concepts and corpus-based conceptual analysis itself that can be leveraged on textual data. In this essay, I address this problem through the question of similarity: how do we evaluate similarity (...)
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  • Generalization through the recurrent interaction of episodic memories: A model of the hippocampal system.Dharshan Kumaran & James L. McClelland - 2012 - Psychological Review 119 (3):573-616.
  • Out of sorts? Some remedies for theories of object concepts: A reply to Rhemtulla and Xu (2007).Sergey V. Blok, George E. Newman & Lance J. Rips - 2007 - Psychological Review 114 (4):1096-1102.
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  • Smell's puzzling discrepancy: Gifted discrimination, yet pitiful identification.Benjamin D. Young - 2019 - Mind and Language 35 (1):90-114.
  • Naturalized truth and Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism.Feng Ye - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (1):27-46.
    There are three major theses in Plantinga’s latest version of his evolutionary argument against naturalism. (1) Given materialism, the conditional probability of the reliability of human cognitive mechanisms produced by evolution is low; (2) the same conditional probability given reductive or non-reductive materialism is still low; (3) the most popular naturalistic theories of content and truth are not admissible for naturalism. I argue that Plantinga’s argument for (1) presupposes an anti-materialistic conception of content, and it therefore begs the question against (...)
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  • Credibility Excess and the Social Imaginary in Cases of Sexual Assault.Audrey S. Yap - 2017 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3 (4):1-24.
    Open Access: This paper will connect literature on epistemic injustice with literature on victims and perpetrators, to argue that in addition to considering the credibility deficit suffered by many victims, we should also consider the credibility excess accorded to many perpetrators. Epistemic injustice, as discussed by Miranda Fricker, considers ways in which someone might be wronged in their capacity as a knower. Testimonial injustice occurs when there is a credibility deficit as a result of identity-prejudicial stereotypes. However, criticisms of Fricker (...)
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  • The plurality of concepts.Daniel Aaron Weiskopf - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):145-173.
    Traditionally, theories of concepts in psychology assume that concepts are a single, uniform kind of mental representation. But no single kind of representation can explain all of the empirical data for which concepts are responsible. I argue that the assumption that concepts are uniformly the same kind of mental structure is responsible for these theories’ shortcomings, and outline a pluralist theory of concepts that rejects this assumption. On pluralism, concepts should be thought of as being constituted by multiple representational kinds, (...)
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  • Models and mechanisms in psychological explanation.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):313-338.
    Mechanistic explanation has an impressive track record of advancing our understanding of complex, hierarchically organized physical systems, particularly biological and neural systems. But not every complex system can be understood mechanistically. Psychological capacities are often understood by providing cognitive models of the systems that underlie them. I argue that these models, while superficially similar to mechanistic models, in fact have a substantially more complex relation to the real underlying system. They are typically constructed using a range of techniques for abstracting (...)
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  • Atomism, pluralism, and conceptual content.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):131-163.
    Conceptual atomists argue that most of our concepts are primitive. I take up three arguments that have been thought to support atomism and show that they are inconclusive. The evidence that allegedly backs atomism is equally compatible with a localist position on which concepts are structured representations with complex semantic content. I lay out such a localist position and argue that the appropriate position for a non-atomist to adopt is a pluralist view of conceptual structure. I show several ways in (...)
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  • Are philosophers expert intuiters?Jonathan M. Weinberg, Chad Gonnerman, Cameron Buckner & Joshua Alexander - 2010 - Philosophical Psychology 23 (3):331-355.
    Recent experimental philosophy arguments have raised trouble for philosophers' reliance on armchair intuitions. One popular line of response has been the expertise defense: philosophers are highly-trained experts, whereas the subjects in the experimental philosophy studies have generally been ordinary undergraduates, and so there's no reason to think philosophers will make the same mistakes. But this deploys a substantive empirical claim, that philosophers' training indeed inculcates sufficient protection from such mistakes. We canvass the psychological literature on expertise, which indicates that people (...)
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  • Basic Concepts: A Cognitive Approach.Wiesław Walentukiewicz - 2019 - Studia Semiotyczne 33 (1):155-177.
    This article seeks to describe concepts of a special kind, these being ones that count as basic, while at the same time referring to the results of research in logic, the philosophy of language, and empirically pursued cognitive psychology. The key issue addressed is this: on what grounds are such basic concepts formed? It thus investigates issues pertaining to their formation and operation, especially in small children. Such concepts can take the form of mental representations of objects, properties and relations. (...)
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  • The ‘niche’ in niche-based theorizing: much ado about nothing.Samantha Wakil & James Justus - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-21.
    The niche is allegedly the conceptual bedrock underpinning the most prominent, and some would say most important, theorizing in ecology. We argue this point of view is more aspirational than veridical. Rather than critically dissect existing definitions of the concept, the supposedly significant work it is thought to have done in ecology is our evaluative target. There is no denying the impressive mathematical sophistication and theoretical ingenuity of the ecological modeling that invokes ‘niche’ terminology. But despite the pervasive labeling, we (...)
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  • Temporal dynamics of categorization: forgetting as the basis of abstraction and generalization.Haley A. Vlach & Charles W. Kalish - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
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  • The Big Concepts Paper: A Defence of Hybridism.Agustín Vicente & Fernando Martínez Manrique - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):59-88.
    The renewed interest in concepts and their role in psychological theorizing is partially motivated by Machery’s claim that concepts are so heterogeneous that they have no explanatory role. Against this, pluralism argues that there is multiplicity of different concepts for any given category, while hybridism argues that a concept is constituted by a rich common representation. This article aims to advance the understanding of the hybrid view of concepts. First, we examine the main arguments against hybrid concepts and conclude that, (...)
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  • Chomskyan Arguments Against Truth-Conditional Semantics Based on Variability and Co-predication.Agustín Vicente - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (4):919-940.
    In this paper I try to show that semantics can explain word-to-world relations and that sentences can have meanings that determine truth-conditions. Critics like Chomsky typically maintain that only speakers denote, i.e., only speakers, by using words in one way or another, represent entities or events in the world. However, according to their view, individual acts of denotations are not explained just by virtue of speakers’ semantic knowledge. Against this view, I will hold that, in the typical cases considered, semantic (...)
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  • Clusters: On the structure of lexical concepts.Agustín Vicente - 2010 - Dialectica 64 (1):79-106.
    The paper argues for a decompositionalist account of lexical concepts. In particular, it presents and argues for a cluster decompositionalism, a view that claims that the complexes a token of a word corresponds to on a given occasion are typically built out of a determinate set of basic concepts, most of which are present on most other occasions of use of the word. The first part of the paper discusses some explanatory virtues of decompositionalism in general. The second singles out (...)
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  • Acquiring Contextualized Concepts: A Connectionist Approach.Saskia van Dantzig, Antonino Raffone & Bernhard Hommel - 2011 - Cognitive Science 35 (6):1162-1189.
    Conceptual knowledge is acquired through recurrent experiences, by extracting statistical regularities at different levels of granularity. At a fine level, patterns of feature co-occurrence are categorized into objects. At a coarser level, patterns of concept co-occurrence are categorized into contexts. We present and test CONCAT, a connectionist model that simultaneously learns to categorize objects and contexts. The model contains two hierarchically organized CALM modules (Murre, Phaf, & Wolters, 1992). The first module, the Object Module, forms object representations based on co-occurrences (...)
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  • Is the Mystery of Thought Demystified by Context‐Dependent Categorisation? Towards a New Relation Between Language and Thought.Michael S. C. Thomas, Harry R. M. Purser & Denis Mareschal - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (5):595-618.
    We argue that are no such things as literal categories in human cognition. Instead, we argue that there are merely temporary coalescences of dimensions of similarity, which are brought together by context in order to create the similarity structure in mental representations appropriate for the task at hand. Fodor contends that context‐sensitive cognition cannot be realised by current computational theories of mind. We address this challenge by describing a simple computational implementation that exhibits internal knowledge representations whose similarity structure alters (...)
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  • Causing Trouble: Theories of Reference and Theory of Mind.J. Robert Thompson - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (1):119-130.
    Michael and MacLeod’s paper on theories of reference for intentional concepts addresses neglected connections between theories of reference and Theory of Mind debates. Unfortunately, their paper neither shows the negative effects of descriptivism on theories of reference for intentional concepts nor provides an adequate picture of how the sort of theory they advocate might explain either the reference of intentional concepts or the puzzles of development on which they focus. In this article, I give reasons to think that the prospects (...)
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  • Why Cognitive Science Needs Philosophy and Vice Versa.Paul Thagard - 2009 - Topics in Cognitive Science 1 (2):237-254.
    Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitive science, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitive science with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different fields of cognitive science. Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, and how norms should be established. These (...)
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  • The self as a system of multilevel interacting mechanisms.Paul Thagard - 2012 - Philosophical Psychology (2):1-19.
    This paper proposes an account of the self as a multilevel system consisting of social, individual, neural, and molecular mechanisms. It argues that the functioning of the self depends on causal relations between mechanisms operating at different levels. In place of reductionist and holistic approaches to cognitive science, I advocate a method of multilevel interacting mechanisms. This method is illustrated by showing how self-concepts operate at several different levels.
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  • Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker and Xian Chen the cognitive structure of scientific revolutions.Paul Thagard - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):843-847.
  • Eighty phenomena about the self: representation, evaluation, regulation, and change.Paul Thagard & Joanne V. Wood - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Explanatory Identities and Conceptual Change.Paul Thagard - 2014 - Science & Education 23 (7):1531-1548.
    Although mind-brain identity remains controversial, many other identities of ordinary things with scientific ones are well established. For example, air is a mixture of gases, water is H2O, and fire is rapid oxidation. This paper examines the history of 15 important identifications: air, blood, cloud, earth, electricity, fire, gold, heat, light, lightning, magnetism, salt, star, thunder, and water. This examination yields surprising conclusions about the nature of justification, explanation, and conceptual change.
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  • Reforming intuition pumps: when are the old ways the best?Brian Talbot - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):315-334.
    One mainstream approach to philosophy involves trying to learn about philosophically interesting, non-mental phenomena—ethical properties, for example, or causation—by gathering data from human beings. I call this approach “wide tent traditionalism.” It is associated with the use of philosophers’ intuitions as data, the making of deductive arguments from this data, and the gathering of intuitions by eliciting reactions to often quite bizarre thought experiments. These methods have been criticized—I consider experimental philosophy’s call for a move away from the use of (...)
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  • Philosophy of psychiatry after diagnostic kinds.Kathryn Tabb - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2177-2195.
    A significant portion of the scholarship in analytic philosophy of psychiatry has been devoted to the problem of what kind of kind psychiatric disorders are. Efforts have included descriptive projects, which aim to identify what psychiatrists in fact refer to when they diagnose, and prescriptive ones, which argue over that to which diagnostic categories should refer. In other words, philosophers have occupied themselves with what I call “diagnostic kinds”. However, the pride of place traditionally given to diagnostic kinds in psychiatric (...)
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  • Memory Errors Reveal a Bias to Spontaneously Generalize to Categories.Shelbie L. Sutherland, Andrei Cimpian, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Susan A. Gelman - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (5):1021-1046.
    Much evidence suggests that, from a young age, humans are able to generalize information learned about a subset of a category to the category itself. Here, we propose that—beyond simply being able to perform such generalizations—people are biased to generalize to categories, such that they routinely make spontaneous, implicit category generalizations from information that licenses such generalizations. To demonstrate the existence of this bias, we asked participants to perform a task in which category generalizations would distract from the main goal (...)
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  • Where do Bayesian priors come from?Patrick Suppes - 2007 - Synthese 156 (3):441-471.
    Bayesian prior probabilities have an important place in probabilistic and statistical methods. In spite of this fact, the analysis of where these priors come from and how they are formed has received little attention. It is reasonable to excuse the lack, in the foundational literature, of detailed psychological theory of what are the mechanisms by which prior probabilities are formed. But it is less excusable that there is an almost total absence of a detailed discussion of the highly differentiating nature (...)
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  • Why the Method of Cases Doesn’t Work.Christopher Suhler - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):825-847.
    In recent years, there has been increasing discussion of whether philosophy actually makes progress. This discussion has been prompted, in no small part, by the depth and persistence of disagreement among philosophers on virtually every major theoretical issue in the field. In this paper, I examine the role that the Method of Cases – the widespread philosophical method of testing and revising theories by comparing their verdicts against our intuitions in particular cases – plays in creating and sustaining theoretical disagreements (...)
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  • Theoretical terms without analytic truths.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):167-190.
    When new theoretical terms are introduced into scientific discourse, prevailing accounts imply, analytic or semantic truths come along with them, by way of either definitions or reference-fixing descriptions. But there appear to be few or no analytic truths in scientific theory, which suggests that the prevailing accounts are mistaken. This paper looks to research on the psychology of natural kind concepts to suggest a new account of the introduction of theoretical terms that avoids both definition and reference-fixing description. At the (...)
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  • On Discerning Critical Elements, Relationships and Shifts in Attaining Scientific Terms: The Challenge of Polysemy/Homonymy and Reference.Helge R. Strömdahl - 2012 - Science & Education 21 (1):55-85.
  • Compositionality Meets Belief Revision: a Bayesian Model of Modification.Corina Strößner - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (4):859-880.
    The principle of compositionality claims that the content of a complex concept is determined by its constituent concepts and the way in which they are composed. However, for prototype concepts this principle is often too rigid. Blurring the division between conceptual composition and belief update has therefore been suggested. Inspired by this idea, we develop a normative account of how belief revision and meaning composition should interact in modifications such as “red apple” or “pet hamster”. We do this by combining (...)
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  • A Dynamical Perspective on the Generality Problem.Andreas Stephens, Trond A. Tjøstheim, Maximilian K. Roszko & Erik J. Olsson - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36 (3):409-422.
    The generality problem is commonly considered to be a critical difficulty for reliabilism. In this paper, we present a dynamical perspective on the problem in the spirit of naturalized epistemology. According to this outlook, it is worth investigating how token belief-forming processes instantiate specific types in the biological agent’s cognitive architecture and background experience, consisting in the process of attractor-guided neural activation. While our discussion of the generality problem assigns “scientific types” to token processes, it represents a unified account in (...)
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  • Arguments from Developmental Order.Richard Stöckle-Schobel - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
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  • Categorías perceptivas y conceptos.Juan Vázquez Sánchez - 2020 - Agora 39 (2):3-31.
    The study of cognitive development has been, and still is, faced with two fundamental problems. They are connected, and no satisfactory answer has been found to either. The first problem concerns a terminological distinction and the corresponding semantic contents - it is important to be clear about which characteristics make it possible to distinguish percepts from concepts proper. The second problem, which depends on such distinction, consists in determining when and how, in cognitive development, the turn from perceptual categories into (...)
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  • On the Representation of the Concept of God.Ricardo Sousa Silvestre - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (2):731-755.
    While the failure of the so-called classical theory of concepts - according to which definitions are the proper way to characterize concepts - is a consensus, metaphysical philosophy of religion still deals with the concept of God in a predominantly definitional way. It thus seems fair to ask: Does this failure imply that a definitional characterization of the concept of God is equally untenable? The first purpose of this paper is to answer this question. I focus on the representational side (...)
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  • A Formal-Logical Approach to the Concept of God.Ricardo Sousa Silvestre - 2021 - Manuscrito. Revista Internacional de Filosofia 44 (4):224-260.
    In this paper I try to answer four basic questions: (1) How the concept of God is to be represented? (2) Are there any logical principles governing it? (3) If so, what kind of logic lies behind them? (4) Can there be a logic of the concept of God? I address them by presenting a formal-logical account to the concept of God. I take it as a methodological desideratum that this should be done within the simplest existing logical formalism. I (...)
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  • On the nature of thought experiments and a core motivation of experimental philosophy.Joseph Shieber - 2010 - Philosophical Psychology 23 (4):547-564.
    In this paper I discuss some underlying motivations common to most strands of experimental philosophy, noting that most forms of experimental philosophy have a commitment to the claim that certain empirical evidence concerning the level of agreement on intuitive judgments across cultures, ethnic groups or socioeconomic strata impugns the role that intuitions play in traditional “armchair” philosophy. I then develop an argument to suggest that, even if one were to grant the truth of the data adduced by experimentalists regarding the (...)
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  • Self-Reported Depression Is Associated With Aberration in Emotional Reactivity and Emotional Concept Coding.Himansh Sheoran & Priyanka Srivastava - 2022 - Frontiers in Psychology 13.
    Cognitive impairment, alterations in mood, emotion dysregulation are just a few of the consequences of depression. Despite depression being reported as the most common mental disorder worldwide, examining depression or risks of depression is still challenging. Emotional reactivity has been observed to predict the risk of depression, but the results have been mixed for negative emotional reactivity. To better understand the emotional response conflict, we asked our participants to describe their feeling in meaningful sentences alongside reporting their reactions to the (...)
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  • Naturalising Representational Content.Nicholas Shea - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (5):496-509.
    This paper sets out a view about the explanatory role of representational content and advocates one approach to naturalising content – to giving a naturalistic account of what makes an entity a representation and in virtue of what it has the content it does. It argues for pluralism about the metaphysics of content and suggests that a good strategy is to ask the content question with respect to a variety of predictively successful information processing models in experimental psychology and cognitive (...)
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  • Concept‐metacognition.Nicholas Shea - 2019 - Mind and Language 35 (5):565-582.
    Concepts are our tools for thinking. They enable us to engage in explicit reasoning about things in the world. Like physical tools, they can be more or less good, given the ways we use them – more or less dependable for categorisation, learning, induction, action-planning, and so on. Do concept users appreciate, explicitly or implicitly, that concepts vary in dependability? Do they feel that some concepts are in some way defective? If so, we metacognize our concepts. One example that has (...)
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  • Experience and reasoning: challenging the a priori/a posteriori distinction.Daniele Sgaravatti - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1127-1148.
    Williamson and others have recently argued against the significance of the a priori/a posteriori distinction. My aim in this paper is to explain, defend, and expand upon one of these arguments. In the first section, I develop in some detail a line of argument sketched in Williamson. In the second section, I consider two replies to Williamson and show that they miss the structure of the challenge, as I understand it. The problem for defenders of the distinction is to find (...)
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  • Cephalic Organization: Animacy and Agency.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):61-77.
    Humans come prepared to recognize two fundamental features of our surroundings: animate objects and agents. This recognition begins early in ontogeny and pervades our ecological and social space. This cognitive capacity reveals an important adaptation and sets the conditions for pervasive shared experiences. One feature of our species and our evolved cephalic substrates is that we are prepared to recognize self-propelled action in others. Our cultural evolution is knotted to an expanding sense of shared experiences.
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  • Cognitive Adaptation: Insights from a Pragmatist Perspective.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):39-59.
    Classical pragmatism construed mind as an adaptive organ rooted in biology; biology was not one side and culture on the other. The cognitive systems underlie adaptation in response to the precarious and in the search for the stable and more secure that result in diverse forms of inquiry. Cognitive systems are rooted in action, and classical pragmatism knotted our sense of ourselves in response to nature and our cultural evolution. Cognitive systems should be demythologized away from Cartesian detachment, and towards (...)
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  • Evidence of coordination as a cure for concept eliminativism.Andrea Scarantino - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):223-224.
    I argue that Machery stacks the deck against hybrid theories of concepts by relying on an unduly restrictive understanding of coordination between concept parts. Once a less restrictive notion of coordination is introduced, the empirical case for hybrid theories of concepts becomes stronger, and the appeal of concept eliminativism weaker.
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  • Don’t Give Up on Basic Emotions.Andrea Scarantino & Paul Griffiths - 2011 - Emotion Review 3 (4):444-454.
    We argue that there are three coherent, nontrivial notions of basic-ness: conceptual basic-ness, biological basic-ness, and psychological basic-ness. There is considerable evidence for conceptually basic emotion categories (e.g., “anger,” “fear”). These categories do not designate biologically basic emotions, but some forms of anger, fear, and so on that are biologically basic in a sense we will specify. Finally, two notions of psychological basic-ness are distinguished, and the evidence for them is evaluated. The framework we offer acknowledges the force of some (...)
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  • Measurement theory in linguistics.Galit Weidman Sassoon - 2010 - Synthese 174 (1):151-180.
    This paper presents a novel semantic analysis of unit names (like pound and meter) and gradable adjectives (like tall, short and happy), inspired by measurement theory (Krantz et al. In Foundations of measurement: Additive and Polynomial Representations, 1971). Based on measurement theory’s four-way typology of measures, I claim that different adjectives are associated with different types of measures whose special characteristics, together with features of the relations denoted by unit names, explain the puzzling limited distribution of measure phrases, as well (...)
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  • Science and Human Nature.Richard Samuels - 2012 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 70:1-28.
    There is a puzzling tension in contemporary scientific attitudes towards human nature. On the one hand, evolutionary biologists correctly maintain that the traditional essentialist conception of human nature is untenable; and moreover that this is obviously so in the light of quite general and exceedingly well-known evolutionary considerations. On the other hand, talk of human nature abounds in certain regions of the sciences, especially in linguistics, psychology and cognitive science. In this paper I articulate a conception of human nature that (...)
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  • Vagueness as Arbitrariness: Outline of a Theory of Vagueness.Sagid Salles - 2021 - Springer.
    This book proposes a new solution to the problem of vagueness. There are several different ways of addressing this problem and no clear agreement on which one is correct. The author proposes that it should be understood as the problem of explaining vague predicates in a way that systematizes six intuitions about the phenomenon and satisfies three criteria of adequacy for an ideal theory of vagueness. The third criterion, which is called the “criterion of precisification”, is the most controversial one. (...)
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