Philosophia Mathematica 16 (1):1-3 (2008)
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Christopher Peacocke, in A Study of Concepts, motivates his account of possession conditions for concepts by means of an alleged parallel with the conditions under which numbers are abshacted to give the numerosity of a predicate. There are, however, logical mistakes in Peacocke's treatment of numbers, which undermine his intended analogy. Nevertheless Peacocke's account of possession conditions for concepts is not rendered inadequate simply by virtue of being deprived of the intended analogy and the motivation it was supposed to afford. His account of concepts deserves still to be considered on its own merits, even if it is more idiosyncratic for being isolated from the paradigm case of numerical abstraction. Peacocke's own account of concepts as abstract objects turns out, though, not to have the logical form that he himself was seeking for it. We show how to re-cast it in an equivalent form of the kind he requires. Then we re-formulate it so as to achieve complete generality. This exercise helps to clarify the central theses in Peacocke's account of concepts. It invites the conclusion that his account of content-determination is rather platitudinous and unoriginal — except for a claim of 'doxastic sufficiency' for content-determination, which emerges at the end of the discussion.



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Neil Tennant
Ohio State University

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