The Problem of Context for Similarity: An Insight from Analogical Cognition

Philosophies 3 (4):39--0 (2018)
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Abstract

Similarity is central for the definition of concepts in several theories in cognitive psychology. However, similarity encounters several problems which were emphasized by Goodman in 1972. At the end of his article, Goodman banishes similarity from any serious philosophical or scientific investigations. If Goodman is right, theories of concepts based on similarity encounter a huge problem and should be revised entirely. In this paper, we would like to analyze the notion of similarity with some insight from psychological works on analogical cognition. Analogical cognition compares two situations or objects in order to find similarities between them. In doing so, the analogical process sorts the different features of the two situations or objects and determines the most important ones. The analogical process is also highly sensitive to context. Context-sensitivity is desirable at some level, but it is also problematic as it leads to a computational explosion. To answer this problem, we would like to consider salience as a possible heuristic in the analogical process. We will distinguish three forms of salience: Sensory, categorical, and operational. By taking salience into account, we can introduce a shortcut into the computation of similarity and circumvent computational explosion.

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Author Profiles

Jérôme Dokic
Institut Jean Nicod
Pauline Armary
Université de Bourgogne

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References found in this work

Features of similarity.Amos Tversky - 1977 - Psychological Review 84 (4):327-352.
Core knowledge.Elizabeth S. Spelke - 2000 - American Psychologist 55 (11):1233-1243.

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