Doing without Concepts
Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework. In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to make sense of the research on concepts in psychology and neuropsychology. Machery shows that the class of concepts divides into several distinct kinds that have little in common with one another and that for this very reason, it is a mistake to attempt to encompass all known phenomena within a single theory of concepts. In brief, concepts are not a natural kind. Machery concludes that the theoretical notion of concept should be eliminated from the theoretical apparatus of contemporary psychology and should be replaced with theoretical notions that are more appropriate for fulfilling psychologists' goals. The notion of concept has encouraged psychologists to believe that a single theory of concepts could be developed, leading to useless theoretical controversies between the dominant paradigms of concepts. Keeping this notion would slow down, and maybe prevent, the development of a more adequate classification and would overshadow the theoretical and empirical issues that are raised by this more adequate classification. Anyone interested in cognitive science's emerging view of the mind will find Machery's provocative ideas of interest.
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"... we shall constantly be giving prominence to distinctions which our ordinary forms of language easily make us overlook. This may make it look as if we saw it as our task to reform language....[But ... Read full review
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amodal argue assumed Barsalou beliefs bodies of knowledge categorization judgments categorization process category learning category members category membership causal knowledge chapter characterize class of concepts cognitive processes concept learning concept of dog contexts contrast counterfactual judgments default distinct ecological validity eliminativism evidence exemplar paradigm exemplar theories exemplar-based experimental experiments explain Fido findings Gopnik Hampton Heterogeneity Hypothesis higher cognitive competences hybrid theories induction instance involved kinds of concept linguistic long-term memory Machery models of categorization multi-process theories Murphy natural kind neo-empiricist neuropsychology Nicolas Sarkozy Nosofsky notion of concept objects outputs paradigm of concepts patterns of points people’s philosophers predicted Prinz processes underlying properties propose propositional attitudes prototype paradigm prototype theories psychologists psychology of concepts recognition heuristic relevant scientific sesamoid bones similarity simultaneously triggered Smith and Minda specific stimuli stored in concepts subjects supposed target category task theories of concepts theorists tion typical underlying the higher