But maybe that’s wrong; and, if it is, then maybe if we were to stop saying that philosophy isconceptual analysis, that would leave philosophers without a defensible metatheory. Well, if so, so be it. We wouldn’t beworse off in that respect than doctors, lawyers, dentists, artists, physicists, chicken sexers, psychologists, drivinginstructors, or the practitioners of any other respectable discipline that I can think of. Why should philosophers beexempt from this practically universal predicament? There are many classes of performances in which intelligence isdisplayed, but the rules or criteria of which are unformulated. Efficient practice precedes the theory of it;methodologies presuppose the application of the methods, of the critical investigation of which they are theproducts . . . It is therefore possible for people intelligently to perform some sorts of operations when they are not yetable to consider any propositions enjoining how they should be performed.

Jean-marc pizano But maybe that’s wrong; and, if it is, then maybe if we were to stop saying that philosophy isconceptual analysis, that would leave philosophers without a defensible metatheory. Well, if so, so be it. We wouldn’t beworse off in that respect than doctors, lawyers, dentists, artists, physicists, chicken sexers, psychologists, drivinginstructors, or the practitioners of any other respectable discipline that I can think of. Why should philosophers beexempt from this practically universal predicament? There are many classes of performances in which intelligence isdisplayed, but the rules or criteria of which are unformulated. Efficient practice precedes the theory of it;methodologies presuppose the application of the methods, of the critical investigation of which they are theproducts . . . It is therefore possible for people intelligently to perform some sorts of operations when they are not yetable to consider any propositions enjoining how they should be performed.

 

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But, bless me, it seems that I am quoting from The Concept of Mind9 I’m sure that means that it’s time for me to stop.

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Appendix 7A Round Squares

I want briefly to consider an ontological worry about IA that’s relatively independent of the main issues that this chapter is concerned with.

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It seems pretty clear that IA is going to have to say that it’s metaphysically impossible for there to be a primitive concept of a self-contradictory property; e.g. a primitive concept ROUND SQUARE. (Remember that “ROUND SQUARE”is a name, not a structural description. The notation leaves it open whether the corresponding

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Ryle 1949.

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concept is atomic.) How the argument goes will depend on the details of IA’s formulation. But, roughly: IA says that concepts have to be locked to properties. Maybe it‘s OK for a concept to lock to a property that exists but happens notto be instantiated (like being a gold mountain), but presumably there isn’t any property of being a round square for thenecessarily uninstantiated concept ROUND SQUARE to lock to.

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That’s all right if ROUND SQUARE is assumed to be complex; it’s pretty plausible that there really isn’t anything to having ROUND SQUARE beyond the inferential dispositions that its compositional semantics bestows (viz. thedisposition to infer ROUND and SQUARE). But the corresponding primitive concept would have neither content(there’s no property for it to lock to) nor compositional structure (it has no constituents), so there could be nothing tohaving it at all. The objection is that it’s not obvious that it‘s metaphysically necessary that ROUND SQUARE couldn’tbe primitive.

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A possible reply is that it’s also not obvious that it could, so all you get is a hung jury. But I think maybe we can do a little better. Consider a non-self-contradictory property like being ared square. It’s common ground for any RTM thatthere is a complex concept of this property (constructed from the concepts RED and SQUARE). But it’s built intoinformational versions of RTM that it also allows there to be a simple concept of this property; viz. a primitive mentalrepresentation REDSQUARE (sic.; this is intended to be a structural description) that is locked to being red and square.Presumably, one could acquire REDSQUARE ostensively. That is, one could get locked to being red and square (not byfirst getting locked to being red and being square, but) by learning that redsquares (sic) are the things that look like those. SoInformational Atomism acknowledges the metaphysical possibility of having the concept of a red square withouthaving either the concept RED or the concept SQUARE. (You won’t, of course, admit that RED SQUARE could be,in this sense, primitive if you boggle at concepts without conceptual roles. But if you boggle at concepts withoutconceptual roles you can‘t accept a pure informational semantics at all, so why should you care what a pureinformational semantics says about concepts of self-contradictory properties?)

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If, on the other hand, you find it intuitively plausible that there are two ways of having a concept of a red square (viz. RED SQUARE, which you can’t have unless you’ve got RED and SQUARE, and REDSQUARE, which you canbecause it’s primitive) then everything is OK about IA’s treatment of the concept ROUND SQUARE.Jean-marc pizano

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On one hand, everybody knows, deep down, thatInferential Role Semantics makes the problem of concept individuation intractable. And, on the other hand, everybodygags on Informational Atomism. (Well, practically everybody does.) And nobody seems to be able to think of any otheralternatives. Probably that’s because those are all the alternatives that there are.

Jean-marc pizano On one hand, everybody knows, deep down, thatInferential Role Semantics makes the problem of concept individuation intractable. And, on the other hand, everybodygags on Informational Atomism. (Well, practically everybody does.) And nobody seems to be able to think of any otheralternatives. Probably that’s because those are all the alternatives that there are.

 

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It’s my view that we’re eventually going to have to swallow Informational Atomism whole. Accordingly, I’ve been doing what I can to

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sweeten the pill. It seemed to me, for a long while, that a cost of atomism would be failing to honour the distinction between theoretical concepts and the rest. For, surely, theoretical concepts are ones that you have to believe a theory inorder to have? And, according to conceptual atomism, there are no concepts that you have to believe a theory in orderto have. But it doesn’t seem to me that way now. A theoretical concept isn’t a concept that’s defined by a theory; it’s justa concept that is, de facto, locked to a property via a theory. Informational Atomism doesn’t mind that at all, so long asyou keep the “de facto” in mind.

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Likewise, it used to seem to me that atomism about concepts means that DOORKNOB is innate. But now I think that you can trade a certain amount of innateness for a certain amount of mind-dependence. Being a doorknob is just:striking our kinds of minds the way that doorknobs do. So, what you need to acquire the concept DOORKNOB“from experience” is just: the kind of mind that experience causes to be struck that way by doorknobs. The price ofmaking this trade of innateness for mind-dependence is, however, a touch of Wotan’s problem. It turns out that muchof what we find in the world is indeed “only ourselves”. It turns out, in lots of cases, that we make things be of a kind bybeing disposed to take them to be of a kind.

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But not in every case; not, in particular, in the case of kinds of things that are alike in respect of the hidden sources of their causal powers, regardless of their likeness in respect of their effects on us. To describe it in terms of those sorts ofsimilarities is to describe the world the way that God takes it to be. Doing science is how we contrive to causeourselves to have the concepts that such descriptions are couched in. Not philosophy but science is the way to getWotan out of his fly-bottle. That story seems to me plausibly true; and it is, as we’ve seen, compatible with aninformational and atomistic account of the individuation of concepts. But dear me, speaking of fly-bottles, howWittgenstein would have loathed it; and Wagner and Virginia Woolf too, for that matter. Well, you can’t pleaseeveryone; I’ll bet it would have been all right with Plato.

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Short Conclusion: A Consolation for Philosophers

That’s really the end of my story; but a word about what I think of as the Luddite objection to conceptual atomism is perhaps in order.

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It‘s natural, pace Appendix 5A, to suppose that conceptual atomism means that there are no conceptual truths, hence that there are no analytic truths. And, if there are no analytic truths, I suppose that there are no such things asconceptual analyses. And it would be worrying if ‘noanalyticity’ entailed not just ‘no analyses’ but ‘no analytic philosophy’ as well. Technological unemployment would thenbegin to threaten.

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But I guess I’m not inclined to take that prospect very seriously; certainly I’m not one of those end-of-philosophy philosophers. If, there aren’t any conceptual analyses, the moral isn’t that we should stop doing philosophy, or eventhat we should start doing philosophy in some quite different way. The moral is just that we should stop saying thatconceptual analysis is what philosophers do. If analytic philosophers haven’t been analysing concepts after all, at leastthat explains why there are so few concepts that analytic philosophers have analysed.

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I guess what I really think is that philosophy is just: whatever strikes minds like ours as being of the same kind as the prototypical examples.Jean-marc pizano

Aha, but how do you go about constructing a true theory of the essence of such-and-suches and convincingyourself that it is true? How do you do it in, say, the case of being water?

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Aha, but how do you go about constructing a true theory of the essence of such-and-suches and convincingyourself that it is true? How do you do it in, say, the case of being water?

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Oh, well, you know: you have to think up a theory of what water is that both explains why the superficial signs of being water are reliable and has the usual theoretical virtues: generality, systematicity, coherence with your other theories, andso forth. You undertake to revise the theory when what it says about water isn’t independently plausible (e.g.independently plausible in light of experimental outcomes); and you undertake to revise your estimates of what’sindependently plausible (e.g. your estimates of the construct validity of your experimental paradigms) when theyconflict with what the theory says about water. And so on, round and round the Duhemian circle.

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In short, you do the science. I suppose the Duhemian process of scientific theory construction is possible only for a kind of creature that antecedently has a lot of concepts of properties that are mind-dependent, and a lot of natural kindconcepts that aren’t concepts of natural kinds as such. And it’s also only possible for a kind of creature that is able topursue policies with respect to the properties that it locks its concepts to. Probably, we’re the only kind of creaturethere is that meets these conditions. Which explains, I suppose, why we’re so lonely.

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As I remarked in Chapter 6, I rather suspect that these, together with the concepts of natural kinds as such, exhaust the sorts of concepts that there are; but I don’t know how to argue that they do.Notice, in any case, that this is a mixed taxonomy. The distinction between concepts of mind-dependent properties and the rest is ontological;mind-dependence is a property of the property that a concept expresses. By contrast, the distinction between natural-kind-as-such concepts and the rest is about how aconcept is attached to a property, not what kind of property the concept is attached to.

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A natural kind enters into lots of nomic connections to things other than our minds. We can validate a theory of the kind with respect to those connections because the theory is required to predict and explain them. You can’t follow thisDuhemian path in the case of DOORKNOB, of course, because there is nothing to validate a theory of doorknobsagainst except how things strike us. In effect, what strikes us as independently plausibly a doorknob is a doorknob; themind-dependence of doorknobhood is tantamount to that. The more we learn about what water is, the more we learnabout the world; the more we learn about what doorknobs are, the more we learn about ourselves. The presenttreatment implies this and, I think, intuition agrees with it. At least, Realist intuition does.

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We do science when we want to lock our concepts to properties that aren’t constituted by similarities in how things strike us. We do science when we want to reveal the ways that things would be similar even if we weren’t there. Idealists tothe contrary not withstanding, there’s no paradox in this. We can, often enough, control for the effects of our presenceon the scene in much the same ways that we control for the effects of other possibly confounding variables. To besure, here as elsewhere, the design of well-confirmed theories is hard work and often expensive. And the onlyrecompense is likely to be the cool pleasure of seeing things objectively; seeing them as they are when you’re notlooking. Objectivity is an educated taste, much like Cubism. Maybe it‘s worth what it costs and maybe it’s not. It‘sentirely your choice, of course. Far be it from me to twist your arm.

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So much, then, for how we got from the Garden to the laboratory. It is, as I say, quite a familiar story.

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Short Summary

You aren’t actually required to believe any of what’s in this chapter or the last; I have mostly just been exploring the geography that reveals itself if conceptual atomism is taken seriously. Still, I do think our cognitive science is in crisis,and that we’re long overdue to face the dilemma that confronts it.Jean-marc pizano

And it’s quite true in such cases that, givennormal experience, the creatures end up locked to the properties that these concepts express. So, as far asinformational semantics is concerned, they therefore end up having concepts that have these properties as theircontents. But, in fact, the innate endowment that they exploit in doing so is quite rudimentary. Male sticklebacks getlocked to conspecific rivalhood via not much more than an innate ability to detect red spots. To do so, they exploit a certain(actually rather fragile) ecological regularity: there’s normally nothing around that wears a red spot except conspecificrivals.

Jean-marc pizano And it’s quite true in such cases that, givennormal experience, the creatures end up locked to the properties that these concepts express. So, as far asinformational semantics is concerned, they therefore end up having concepts that have these properties as theircontents. But, in fact, the innate endowment that they exploit in doing so is quite rudimentary. Male sticklebacks getlocked to conspecific rivalhood via not much more than an innate ability to detect red spots. To do so, they exploit a certain(actually rather fragile) ecological regularity: there’s normally nothing around that wears a red spot except conspecificrivals.

 

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This is nomologically necessary (anyhow, it’s counterfactual supporting) in the stickleback’s ecology, and nomological necessity is transitive. So sticklebacks end up locked to conspecific rivalhood via one of its reliable appearances.

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To repeat: informational semantics suggests that, so far as the requisite innate endowment is concerned, if the world co-operates you can get concepts of natural kinds very cheap. That’s what the sticklebacks do; it’s what Homer did; it’swhat children do; it’s what all of us grown-ups do too, most of the time. By contrast, for you to have a natural kindsconcept as such is for your link to the essence of the kind not to depend on its inessential properties. This is a late andsophisticated achievement, historically, ontogenetically, and phylogenetically, and there is no reason to take it as aparadigm for concept possession at large. I suppose you start to get natural kind concepts in this strong sense onlywhen it occurs to you that, if generality and explanatory power are to be achieved, similarity and difference in respectof how things affect minds like ours has sometimes got to be ignored in deciding what kinds of things they are;perhaps, de facto, this happens only in the context of the scientific enterprise.

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Well, what about the ‘technical’ concept WATER? Does that have to be innate if it’s primitive?

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Of course not. For one thing, on the present view, there really is no ‘technical concept water’; there’s just, as it were, the technical way of having the concept WATER. Once you’ve got a concept that’s locked to water via its (locallyreliable) phenomenological properties, you can, if you wish, make a project of getting locked to water in a way thatdoesn’t depend on its superficial signs. The easy way to do this is to get some expert to teach you a theory thatexpresses the essence of the kind. To be sure, however, that will only work if the natural kind concept that you’rewanting to acquire is one which somebody else has acquired already. Things get a deal more difficult if you’re startingab initio; i.e. without any concepts which express natural kinds as such. It’s time for me to tell my story about howconcepts of natural kinds might “emerge” in a mind that is antecedently well stocked with concepts of other kinds.Actually, it’s a perfectly familiar story and not at all surprising.

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‘Emerging’

Suppose you have lots of concepts of mind-dependent properties, and lots of logico-mathematical concepts, and lots of concepts of natural kindswhich, however, aren’t concepts of natural kinds as such.93 Then what you need to do to acquire a natural kind conceptas a natural kind concept ab initio is: (i) construct a true theory of the hidden essence of the kind; and (ii) convinceyourself of the truth of the theory. If the theory is true, then it will say of a thing that it is such-and-such when and onlywhen the thing is such-and-such; and if you are convinced of the truth of the theory, then you will make it a policy toconsider that a thing is such-and-such when and only when the theory says that it is. So your believing the theory locksyou to such-and-suches via a property that they have in every metaphysically possibly world; namely, the property ofbeing such-and-suches; the property that makes the theory true. The upshot is that, if the moon is blue, and everythinggoes as planned, you will end up with a full-blown natural kind concept; the concept of such-and-suches as such.

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Actually, I don’t much care which you say, so long as you like the general picture. Suffice it that it’s quite in the spirit of informational semantics to decide to talk like this: Homer did have the concept WATER (he had a concept that isnomologically linked to beingwater) and, of course, beingwater isn’t a mind-dependent property. So Homer had a conceptof a natural kind. But WATER wasn’t, for Homer, a concept of a natural kind as such; and for us it is. We’re locked tobeingwater via a chemical-cum-metaphysical theory, that specifies its essence, and that is quite a different mechanism ofsemantic access from the ones that Homer relied on. In particular, the two ways of locking to water support quitedifferent counterfactuals. This shows up (inter alia) in the notorious thought experiments about Twin-Earth: we thinkthat XYZ wouldn’t be water; Homer wouldn’t have understood the question.

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Actually, I don’t much care which you say, so long as you like the general picture. Suffice it that it’s quite in the spirit of informational semantics to decide to talk like this: Homer did have the concept WATER (he had a concept that isnomologically linked to beingwater) and, of course, beingwater isn’t a mind-dependent property. So Homer had a conceptof a natural kind. But WATER wasn’t, for Homer, a concept of a natural kind as such; and for us it is. We’re locked tobeingwater via a chemical-cum-metaphysical theory, that specifies its essence, and that is quite a different mechanism ofsemantic access from the ones that Homer relied on. In particular, the two ways of locking to water support quitedifferent counterfactuals. This shows up (inter alia) in the notorious thought experiments about Twin-Earth: we thinkthat XYZ wouldn’t be water; Homer wouldn’t have understood the question.

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But an entirely informational and atomistic semantics can also do justice to the intuition that Homer had the same WATER concept as ours. All the metaphysics of concept possession requires, of our concept WATER or Homer’s, isbeing locked to water. If you are locked to water our way, you have the concept WATER as a natural kind concept; ifyou are locked to concept WATER Homer’s way, you have the concept WATER, but not as a natural kind concept.But, on a perfectly natural way of counting, if you are locked to water either way, you have the concept WATER. (Isuppose that God is locked to being water in still a third way; one that holds in every metaphysically possible world butisn’t theory-mediated. That’s OK with informational semantics; God can have the concept WATER too. He can‘t,however, have the pretheoretic concept WATER; the one that’s locked to water only by its superficial signs. Nobody’sPerfect.)

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If you’re lucky, you can have concepts of natural kinds on the cheap. Homer maybe didn’t need much to get WATER locked to water, maybe all he needed was innate detectors for the phenomenological properties which, in point ofnomological necessity, water has in all the worlds near to him (and us). But, of course, you only get what you pay for:Homer didn’t have the concept of water as a natural kind concept. To have that, he would need to have been locked tothe essence of water via the essence of water; that is, in a way that doesn’t depend on water’s superficial signs. Probably,de facto, all such lockings (except God’s) are theory-mediated; indeed, they are perhaps all metatheory-mediated; theymay well depend, de facto, on having not just concepts of natural kinds, but also the concepts NATURAL KIND andHIDDEN ESSENCE. Which nobody did until quite recently.

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But I want to emphasize what I take to be a main moral of the discussion: the ‘de facto’ matters. Just as IA says there are no concepts the possession of which is metaphysically necessary for having WATER (except WATER), so I’d like itto say that there are no concepts the possession of which is metaphysically necessary for having WATER as a naturalkind concept (except WATER); all that’s required is being locked to water in a way that doesn’t depend on its superficialsigns. But, of course, metaphysically necessary is one thing, on the cards is quite another. I’m quite prepared to believethat, de facto, until we had (indeed, had more or less self-consciously), the concepts that cluster around NATURALKIND, there was probably no way that we could link to WATER except the sort of way that Homer did and childrenand animals do; viz. via water’s metaphysically accidental but nomologically necessary properties. But now we have atheory that tells us what water is, and we are linked to water via our acceptance of that theory. Science discoversessences, and doing science thereby links us to natural kinds as such.

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I think, by the way, that the ethological analogies play out quite nicely on this sort of analysis. It’s natural and handy and, for most purposes harmless, to say that ducklings have the concept MOTHER DUCK innately; that malesticklebacks have the concept CONSPECIFIC RIVAL innately, and so on.Jean-marc pizano

Fine. So now all I owe you is a story about what “emerging” comes to: and I have to tell this story in a way that an informational semantics can tolerate, viz. without assuming that there is more to concept possession than locking evenin the case of bona fide, full-blown, natural kind concepts as such. Then I get to go sailing.

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Fine. So now all I owe you is a story about what “emerging” comes to: and I have to tell this story in a way that an informational semantics can tolerate, viz. without assuming that there is more to concept possession than locking evenin the case of bona fide, full-blown, natural kind concepts as such. Then I get to go sailing.

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I’ll start with natural kind concepts and informational semantic and just let the “emerging” emerge.

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Natural Kinds and Informational Semantics

We’ve just distinguished between merely having a natural kind concept and having a natural kind concept as such. What I’m asking now is whether an atomistic informational semantics can honour that distinction. And I’m inviting you to share myconcern that, prima facie, it cannot. Prima facie an informational semantics has to say that whether you have theconcept WATER is a matter of whether you are locked to water; if you are then you do, and if you aren’t then youdon’t. Whereas (still prima facie) having WATER as a full-blown natural kind concept requires also having, forexample, concepts like MICROSTRUCTURE and HIDDEN ESSENCE and NATURAL KIND. Atomism andinformational semantics are natural allies, and it’s been my strategy throughout to enlist each in the other’s service. Butmaybe we’ve come to where their joint resources run out. If the possession conditions for full-blown natural-kind-as-such concepts invoke the possession conditions of concepts like NATURAL KIND, then they aren’t atomistic.

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So, the issue is how an informational semantics should treat full-blown natural kind terms. That’s a large topic, and I wish I didn’t have to think about it. For what it’s worth, however, here’s a sketch of a story: whether Homer had the(our) concept WATER doesn’t depend on what other concepts he had (on whether he had HIDDEN ESSENCE andMICROSTRUCTURE, for example). Rather, it depends on whether he was locked to water as such; or was merelylocked to water in any reasonably nearby world.

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Homer had (and children and animals have) a concept that is locked to water via its familiar phenomenological properties; via its ‘superficial signs’. So the locking Homer had was reliable only in worlds where water has the familiarphenomenological properties; which is to say only in nomologically possible worlds near ours. That is, I suppose, theusual, pretheoretic way of having a natural kind concept. The kind-constituting property is a hidden essence and youget locked to it via phenomenological properties the having of which is (roughly) nomologically necessary andsufficient for something to instantiate the kind. This explains, by the way, why concepts like WATER exhibit the d/Deffect. WATER, like DOORKNOB, is typically learned from its instances; but that’s not, of course, because being wateris mind-dependent. Rather, it’s because you typically lock to being water via its superficial signs; and, in point ofnomological necessity, water samples are the only things around in which those superficial signs inhere.

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So much for the pretheoretic way of having natural kind concepts. By contrast, our official, full-blown, chemical concept of water is post-theoretic.

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For us (but not for Homer), WATER is a concept whose locking to water is mediated by our adherence to a theory about what water is. Since, by assumption, this theory that we adhere to is true, the locking depends on a property thatwater has in every metaphysically possible world, not just in nomologically possible worlds that are near here. We’relocked to water via a theory that specifies its essence, so we’re locked to water in every metaphysically possible world. That, I’msuggesting, is what an informational semanticist should say that it is to have a concept of a natural kind as a naturalkind: it’s for the mechanism that effects the locking not to depend on the superficial signs of the kind, and hence tohold (ceteris paribus of course) even in possible worlds where members of the kind lacks those signs.

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So, does this, or doesn’t it, amount to Homer’s having had the same concept of water that we do? Did they or didn’t they have the concept WATER back in the Garden?

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Natural Kinds Come Late

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Natural Kinds Come Late

I think natural kind concepts have been getting more of a press than they deserve of late. It’s past time to put them in their place; and their place is that of self-conscious and cultivated intellectual achievements. Much of what is currentlybeing written about concepts—by philosophers, but also, increasingly, by psychologists—suggests that natural kindconcepts are the paradigms on which we should model our accounts of concept acquisition and concept possession atlarge. This is, I think, hopeless on the face of it. For one thing, as Putnam in particular has argued, natural kindconcepts thrive best—maybe only—in an environment where conventions of deference to experts are in place. But,patently, only creatures with an antecedently complex mental life could make a policy of adherence to such conventions.Adherence to conventions of deference couldn’t be a precondition for conceptual content in general, if only becausedeference has to stop somewhere; if my ELM concept is deferential, that’s because the botanist’s isn’t. Anyhow, it seemsjust obvious that concepts like STAR in, as one says, the ‘technical sense’—the concept of stars that is prepared todefer about the Sun and black dwarfs on the one hand and meteors and comets on the other—come after, andsometimes come to replace, their colloquial counterparts.

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As I say, this view flies in the face of the current fashions in developmental cognitive psychology, which stress how early, and how universally, natural kind concepts are available to children. But I find that I’m not much convinced.There is, to be sure, getting to be a lot of evidence (contra Piaget) that young children are deeply into appearance/reality distinctions: they’re clear that you can’t make a horse into a zebra just by painting on stripes (Keil 1989); andthey’re clear that, for some categories (animals but not vases, for example), what’s on the inside matters to what kind athing belongs to (Carey 1985). It’s usual to summarize such findings as showing that young children are ‘essentialists’,and if you like to talk that way, so be it.5 My point, however, is that being an essentialist in this sense clearly does notimply having natural kind concepts; not even if a cognitivist picture of concept possession is assumed for sake of theargument. What’s further required, at a minimum, is the idea that what’s ‘inside’ (or otherwise hidden) somehow iscausally responsible for how

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things that belong to the kind appear; for their ‘superficial signs’. It is, of course, an empirical issue, but I don’t know of any evidence that children think that sort of thing.

If it’s easy to miss the extent to which natural kind concepts are sophisticated achievements, that’s perhaps because of a nasty ambiguity in the term. (One that we’ve already encountered, in fact; it’s why I had to pussyfoot about whetherthey had WATER in the Garden). Consider this dialectic:

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—Did Homer have natural kind concepts?

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Sure, he had the concept WATER (and the like), and water is a natural kind.

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But also:

—Did Homer have natural kind concepts?

Of course not. He had no disposition to defer to experts about water (and the like); I expect the notion of an expert about water would have struck him as bizarre. And, of course Homer had no notion that water has ahidden essence, or a characteristic microstructure (or that anything else does); a fortiori, he had no notion thatthe hidden essence of water is causally responsible for its phenomenal properties.

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A ‘natural kind concept’ can be the concept of a natural kind; or it can be the concept of a natural kind as such (i.e. the concept of a natural kind as a natural kind). It‘s perfectly consistent to claim that Homer had plenty of the first butnone of the second. In fact, I think that’s pretty clearly true. So the suggestion is that, in the history of science, and inontogeny, and, for all I know, in phylogeny too, concepts of natural kinds as such only come late. Homer, and children,and animals, have few of them or none. Somehow, concepts of natural kinds as such emerge from a background ofconcepts of mind-dependent properties, and of concepts of natural kinds that aren’t concepts of natural kinds as such.Presumably it’s because they do somehow emerge from a background of other kinds of concepts that concepts ofnatural kind as such don’t have to be innate.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano