But it’s hard to believe that is the question since the answer, though perfectly obvious and entirely banal, is one that Medin and Wattenmaker don’t even consider. What’s wrong with the concept BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, EATSMEALWORMS,. . . etc. is that, as far as anybody knows, there’s nothing that is, or would be, true of things in virtue oftheir falling under it (except what follows trivially from their falling under it; e.g. that they are, or would be, found inLapland). In particular, there are no substantive, counterfactual-supporting generalizations about such things; so whyon earth would anybody want to waste his time thinking about them? Compare such unsatisfied (but coherent)concepts as UNICORN. At least there’s a story about unicorns. That is, there are interesting things that are supposed to betrue about them: that their ground-up horns are antidotes to many poisons; that if there were unicorns, virgins couldcatch them if there were virgins, and so on. In short, such examples as Medin and Wattenmaker offer suggest thatbeing ‘coherent’ isn’t even a psychological property: the incoherence of BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, . . . etc. is adefect not of the concept but of the world. It’s therefore hard to see why a psychologist should care about it (thoughperhaps a zoologist might).

Jean-marc pizano

But it’s hard to believe that is the question since the answer, though perfectly obvious and entirely banal, is one that Medin and Wattenmaker don’t even consider. What’s wrong with the concept BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, EATSMEALWORMS,. . . etc. is that, as far as anybody knows, there’s nothing that is, or would be, true of things in virtue oftheir falling under it (except what follows trivially from their falling under it; e.g. that they are, or would be, found inLapland). In particular, there are no substantive, counterfactual-supporting generalizations about such things; so whyon earth would anybody want to waste his time thinking about them? Compare such unsatisfied (but coherent)concepts as UNICORN. At least there’s a story about unicorns. That is, there are interesting things that are supposed to betrue about them: that their ground-up horns are antidotes to many poisons; that if there were unicorns, virgins couldcatch them if there were virgins, and so on. In short, such examples as Medin and Wattenmaker offer suggest thatbeing ‘coherent’ isn’t even a psychological property: the incoherence of BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, . . . etc. is adefect not of the concept but of the world. It’s therefore hard to see why a psychologist should care about it (thoughperhaps a zoologist might).

jean-marc pizano

Or perhaps Medin and Wattenmaker have some other construal of conceptual coherence in mind; but search me what it is.70

jean-marc pizano

To return to the main theme: many of the typical preoccupations of theory theorists seem to be largely neutral on the issue of concept

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

See also Keil: “Prototypes merely represent correlated properties, they offer no explanation of the reasons for those correlations (e.g. why the prototypical features of birds, such as beaks, feathers, and eggs tend to co-occur)” (1987: 195). The suggestion seems to be that the difference between prototype theories and theory theories is that thelatter entail that having a concept involves knowing the explanation of such correlations (or knowing that there is an explanation? or knowing that some expert knows theexplanation?). But, if so, it seems that theory theories set the conditions for concept possession impossibly high. I’m pretty confident that being liquid and transparent atroom temperature are correlated properties of water. But I have no idea why they are correlated. Notice, in particular, that learning that being water is being H2O didn’tadvance my epistemic situation in this respect since I don’t know why being liquid and transparent at room temperature are correlated properties of H2O. Do you?

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individuation—Is conceptual change discontinuous? What makes a concept coherent? Are children metaphysical essentialists?—and the like. There is, to be sure, much that’s of interest to be said on these topics. But, thank Heaven,not here. From our point of view, the crucial question is whether, when a theory theorist says that concepts aretypically embedded in theoretical inferences, he means to claim that knowing (some or all) of the theory is a necessarycondition for having the concept. If yes, then the ‘which inferences’ question has to be faced. If no, then some positiveaccount of concept possession/individuation is owing. The definition story and the prototype story are bona fidecompeting theories of concepts because they do have answers to such questions on offer. As far as I can make out, thetheory theory doesn’t, so it isn’t.

jean-marc pizano

6 Innateness and Ontology, Part I: The Standard

Argument-

Jean-marc pizano

I find only myself, every time, in everything I create.

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—Wotan in Die Walküre, Act II

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Are you also puzzled, Socrates, about cases that might be thought absurd, such as hair or mud or dirt or any other trivial and undignified objects. Are you doubtful whether or not to assert that each of these has a separateform? . . . Not at all, said Socrates. In these cases, the things are just the things we see; it would surely be tooabsurd to suppose that they have a form.

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—Plato, Parmenides

Virginia Woolf has summed up this state of things with perfect vividness and conciseness in the words, ‘Tuesday follows Monday’.

—E. M. W. Tillyard, Shakespeare’s Last Plays

jean-marc pizano

Introduction

RTM requires there to be infinitely many concepts that are complex and finitely many that are primitive.Jean-marc pizano

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Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

Jean-marc pizano Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

 

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Whether it is a virtue of informational semantics that it proposes to distance the metaphysics of modality from the metaphysics of concept possession is a large issue; one that I don’t propose to discuss here at all. Clearly, if you thinkthere’s any serious chance that part/whole relations among concepts might explain what makes propositions necessary,then informational semantics isn’t likely to be your dish; qua atomistic, informational semantics denies that the reasoncats have to be animals is that ANIMAL is a constituent of CAT. As the reader will have gathered, I doubt thatexplanations of that sort will be forthcoming, but I won’t argue the general issue here. Suffice it that the differencebetween mere necessity (which informational semantics is perfectly happy about) and

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conceptual necessity (over which informational semantics weeps) is that the latter, but not the former, constrains concept possession.

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Second Assumption: Semantic Access

Jean-marc pizano

So far we have it, by assumption, that ‘dog’ and DOG mean dog because ‘dog’ expresses DOG, and DOG tokens fall under a law according to which they reliably are (or would be) among the effects of instantiated doghood. I now add theconsiderably less tendentious assumption that if there are such meaning-making laws, they surely couldn’t be basic. Or,to put it another way, if there is a nomic connection between doghood and cause-of-DOG-tokeninghood, then there must be acausal process whose operation mediates and sustains this connection. Or, to put it a third way, if informationalsemantics is right about the metaphysics of meaning, there must be mechanismsin virtue of which certain mental (-cum-neural) structures ‘resonate’ to doghood and Tuesdayhood4 Or, to put it a last way, informational semantics is untenableunless there’s an answer to questions like: ‘how does (or would) the instantiation of doghood cause tokenings of DOG?’ Ipropose to call whatever answers such a question a mechanism of ‘’ semanticaccesi. Mechanisms of semantic access arewhat sustain our ability to think about things.

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What such mechanism might there be in the case of dogs? Unsurprisingly, the sort of inventory that suggests itself looks a lot like what you’d get if you asked for the mechanisms that mediate our epistemic access to dogs. Unsurprisinglybecause there can be no epistemic access without semantic access; what you can’t think about, you can’t know about.41Informational semantics says that it’s because the mediation

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Jean-marc pizano

40

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I borrow J. J. Gibson’s phrase (see e.g. 1966) but not his metaphysics. Roughly, informational semantics is Gibsonian semantics, but without the ban on mental processes; just as, roughly, it is Skinnerian semantics without the behaviourism. (See below and Fodor 1990.)

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Cf. Antony (1995: 433): “no device can be said to have epistemic access to any aspect of its environment unless it is a device that represents its environment”. This doesn’t go the other way around, of course: semantic access doesn’t guarantee epistemic warrant. With any luck, all of this ought to come out right if your semantics is informationaland your theory of knowledge is reliabilist. Since content supervenes on purely nomic relations—that is, on certain lawful relations among properties—and since lawfulrelations can presumably hold among properties that are, de facto, uninstantiated, the metaphysical conditions for content can in principle be met entirely counterfactually:no actual tokens of DOG have actually to be caused by dogs for the counterfactuals that its content supervenes on to be in place. Epistemic warrant, by contrast, has to dowith the causal history of one or another actual belief token: the warranted belief has to have been acquired by reliable means. So it should turn out that the conditions forepistemic access include, but aren’t exhausted by, the conditions that semantic access imposes.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

Jean-marc pizano Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

 

Whether it is a virtue of informational semantics that it proposes to distance the metaphysics of modality from the metaphysics of concept possession is a large issue; one that I don’t propose to discuss here at all. Clearly, if you thinkthere’s any serious chance that part/whole relations among concepts might explain what makes propositions necessary,then informational semantics isn’t likely to be your dish; qua atomistic, informational semantics denies that the reasoncats have to be animals is that ANIMAL is a constituent of CAT. As the reader will have gathered, I doubt thatexplanations of that sort will be forthcoming, but I won’t argue the general issue here. Suffice it that the differencebetween mere necessity (which informational semantics is perfectly happy about) and

conceptual necessity (over which informational semantics weeps) is that the latter, but not the former, constrains concept possession.

Second Assumption: Semantic Access

Jean-marc pizano

So far we have it, by assumption, that ‘dog’ and DOG mean dog because ‘dog’ expresses DOG, and DOG tokens fall under a law according to which they reliably are (or would be) among the effects of instantiated doghood. I now add theconsiderably less tendentious assumption that if there are such meaning-making laws, they surely couldn’t be basic. Or,to put it another way, if there is a nomic connection between doghood and cause-of-DOG-tokeninghood, then there must be acausal process whose operation mediates and sustains this connection. Or, to put it a third way, if informationalsemantics is right about the metaphysics of meaning, there must be mechanismsin virtue of which certain mental (-cum-neural) structures ‘resonate’ to doghood and Tuesdayhood4 Or, to put it a last way, informational semantics is untenableunless there’s an answer to questions like: ‘how does (or would) the instantiation of doghood cause tokenings of DOG?’ Ipropose to call whatever answers such a question a mechanism of ‘’ semanticaccesi. Mechanisms of semantic access arewhat sustain our ability to think about things.

What such mechanism might there be in the case of dogs? Unsurprisingly, the sort of inventory that suggests itself looks a lot like what you’d get if you asked for the mechanisms that mediate our epistemic access to dogs. Unsurprisinglybecause there can be no epistemic access without semantic access; what you can’t think about, you can’t know about.41Informational semantics says that it’s because the mediation

Jean-marc pizano

40

I borrow J. J. Gibson’s phrase (see e.g. 1966) but not his metaphysics. Roughly, informational semantics is Gibsonian semantics, but without the ban on mental processes; just as, roughly, it is Skinnerian semantics without the behaviourism. (See below and Fodor 1990.)

Cf. Antony (1995: 433): “no device can be said to have epistemic access to any aspect of its environment unless it is a device that represents its environment”. This doesn’t go the other way around, of course: semantic access doesn’t guarantee epistemic warrant. With any luck, all of this ought to come out right if your semantics is informationaland your theory of knowledge is reliabilist. Since content supervenes on purely nomic relations—that is, on certain lawful relations among properties—and since lawfulrelations can presumably hold among properties that are, de facto, uninstantiated, the metaphysical conditions for content can in principle be met entirely counterfactually:no actual tokens of DOG have actually to be caused by dogs for the counterfactuals that its content supervenes on to be in place. Epistemic warrant, by contrast, has to dowith the causal history of one or another actual belief token: the warranted belief has to have been acquired by reliable means. So it should turn out that the conditions forepistemic access include, but aren’t exhausted by, the conditions that semantic access imposes.

Jean-marc pizano

Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

Jean-marc pizano Accordingly, it’s possible to have the concept WATER but not the concept HYDROGEN, andit’s possible to have the concept TWO but not the concept PRIME. All of that is perfectly OK as far as informationalsemantics is concerned. It’s perfectly consistent to claim that concepts are individuated by the properties they denote,and that the properties are individuated by their necessary relations to one another, but to deny that knowing about thenecessary relations among the properties is a condition for having the concept.

 

Whether it is a virtue of informational semantics that it proposes to distance the metaphysics of modality from the metaphysics of concept possession is a large issue; one that I don’t propose to discuss here at all. Clearly, if you thinkthere’s any serious chance that part/whole relations among concepts might explain what makes propositions necessary,then informational semantics isn’t likely to be your dish; qua atomistic, informational semantics denies that the reasoncats have to be animals is that ANIMAL is a constituent of CAT. As the reader will have gathered, I doubt thatexplanations of that sort will be forthcoming, but I won’t argue the general issue here. Suffice it that the differencebetween mere necessity (which informational semantics is perfectly happy about) and

conceptual necessity (over which informational semantics weeps) is that the latter, but not the former, constrains concept possession.

Second Assumption: Semantic Access

Jean-marc pizano

So far we have it, by assumption, that ‘dog’ and DOG mean dog because ‘dog’ expresses DOG, and DOG tokens fall under a law according to which they reliably are (or would be) among the effects of instantiated doghood. I now add theconsiderably less tendentious assumption that if there are such meaning-making laws, they surely couldn’t be basic. Or,to put it another way, if there is a nomic connection between doghood and cause-of-DOG-tokeninghood, then there must be acausal process whose operation mediates and sustains this connection. Or, to put it a third way, if informationalsemantics is right about the metaphysics of meaning, there must be mechanismsin virtue of which certain mental (-cum-neural) structures ‘resonate’ to doghood and Tuesdayhood4 Or, to put it a last way, informational semantics is untenableunless there’s an answer to questions like: ‘how does (or would) the instantiation of doghood cause tokenings of DOG?’ Ipropose to call whatever answers such a question a mechanism of ‘’ semanticaccesi. Mechanisms of semantic access arewhat sustain our ability to think about things.

What such mechanism might there be in the case of dogs? Unsurprisingly, the sort of inventory that suggests itself looks a lot like what you’d get if you asked for the mechanisms that mediate our epistemic access to dogs. Unsurprisinglybecause there can be no epistemic access without semantic access; what you can’t think about, you can’t know about.41Informational semantics says that it’s because the mediation

Jean-marc pizano

40

I borrow J. J. Gibson’s phrase (see e.g. 1966) but not his metaphysics. Roughly, informational semantics is Gibsonian semantics, but without the ban on mental processes; just as, roughly, it is Skinnerian semantics without the behaviourism. (See below and Fodor 1990.)

Cf. Antony (1995: 433): “no device can be said to have epistemic access to any aspect of its environment unless it is a device that represents its environment”. This doesn’t go the other way around, of course: semantic access doesn’t guarantee epistemic warrant. With any luck, all of this ought to come out right if your semantics is informationaland your theory of knowledge is reliabilist. Since content supervenes on purely nomic relations—that is, on certain lawful relations among properties—and since lawfulrelations can presumably hold among properties that are, de facto, uninstantiated, the metaphysical conditions for content can in principle be met entirely counterfactually:no actual tokens of DOG have actually to be caused by dogs for the counterfactuals that its content supervenes on to be in place. Epistemic warrant, by contrast, has to dowith the causal history of one or another actual belief token: the warranted belief has to have been acquired by reliable means. So it should turn out that the conditions forepistemic access include, but aren’t exhausted by, the conditions that semantic access imposes.

Jean-marc pizano

But it’s hard to believe that is the question since the answer, though perfectly obvious and entirely banal, is one that Medin and Wattenmaker don’t even consider. What’s wrong with the concept BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, EATSMEALWORMS,. . . etc. is that, as far as anybody knows, there’s nothing that is, or would be, true of things in virtue oftheir falling under it (except what follows trivially from their falling under it; e.g. that they are, or would be, found inLapland). In particular, there are no substantive, counterfactual-supporting generalizations about such things; so whyon earth would anybody want to waste his time thinking about them? Compare such unsatisfied (but coherent)concepts as UNICORN. At least there’s a story about unicorns. That is, there are interesting things that are supposed to betrue about them: that their ground-up horns are antidotes to many poisons; that if there were unicorns, virgins couldcatch them if there were virgins, and so on. In short, such examples as Medin and Wattenmaker offer suggest thatbeing ‘coherent’ isn’t even a psychological property: the incoherence of BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, . . . etc. is adefect not of the concept but of the world. It’s therefore hard to see why a psychologist should care about it (thoughperhaps a zoologist might).

Jean-marc pizano

But it’s hard to believe that is the question since the answer, though perfectly obvious and entirely banal, is one that Medin and Wattenmaker don’t even consider. What’s wrong with the concept BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, EATSMEALWORMS,. . . etc. is that, as far as anybody knows, there’s nothing that is, or would be, true of things in virtue oftheir falling under it (except what follows trivially from their falling under it; e.g. that they are, or would be, found inLapland). In particular, there are no substantive, counterfactual-supporting generalizations about such things; so whyon earth would anybody want to waste his time thinking about them? Compare such unsatisfied (but coherent)concepts as UNICORN. At least there’s a story about unicorns. That is, there are interesting things that are supposed to betrue about them: that their ground-up horns are antidotes to many poisons; that if there were unicorns, virgins couldcatch them if there were virgins, and so on. In short, such examples as Medin and Wattenmaker offer suggest thatbeing ‘coherent’ isn’t even a psychological property: the incoherence of BRIGHT RED, FLAMMABLE, . . . etc. is adefect not of the concept but of the world. It’s therefore hard to see why a psychologist should care about it (thoughperhaps a zoologist might).

Or perhaps Medin and Wattenmaker have some other construal of conceptual coherence in mind; but search me what it is.70

To return to the main theme: many of the typical preoccupations of theory theorists seem to be largely neutral on the issue of concept

Jean-marc pizano

See also Keil: “Prototypes merely represent correlated properties, they offer no explanation of the reasons for those correlations (e.g. why the prototypical features of birds, such as beaks, feathers, and eggs tend to co-occur)” (1987: 195). The suggestion seems to be that the difference between prototype theories and theory theories is that thelatter entail that having a concept involves knowing the explanation of such correlations (or knowing that there is an explanation? or knowing that some expert knows theexplanation?). But, if so, it seems that theory theories set the conditions for concept possession impossibly high. I’m pretty confident that being liquid and transparent atroom temperature are correlated properties of water. But I have no idea why they are correlated. Notice, in particular, that learning that being water is being H2O didn’tadvance my epistemic situation in this respect since I don’t know why being liquid and transparent at room temperature are correlated properties of H2O. Do you?

individuation—Is conceptual change discontinuous? What makes a concept coherent? Are children metaphysical essentialists?—and the like. There is, to be sure, much that’s of interest to be said on these topics. But, thank Heaven,not here. From our point of view, the crucial question is whether, when a theory theorist says that concepts aretypically embedded in theoretical inferences, he means to claim that knowing (some or all) of the theory is a necessarycondition for having the concept. If yes, then the ‘which inferences’ question has to be faced. If no, then some positiveaccount of concept possession/individuation is owing. The definition story and the prototype story are bona fidecompeting theories of concepts because they do have answers to such questions on offer. As far as I can make out, thetheory theory doesn’t, so it isn’t.

6 Innateness and Ontology, Part I: The Standard

Argument-

Jean-marc pizano

I find only myself, every time, in everything I create.

—Wotan in Die Walküre, Act II

Are you also puzzled, Socrates, about cases that might be thought absurd, such as hair or mud or dirt or any other trivial and undignified objects. Are you doubtful whether or not to assert that each of these has a separateform? . . . Not at all, said Socrates. In these cases, the things are just the things we see; it would surely be tooabsurd to suppose that they have a form.

—Plato, Parmenides

Virginia Woolf has summed up this state of things with perfect vividness and conciseness in the words, ‘Tuesday follows Monday’.

—E. M. W. Tillyard, Shakespeare’s Last Plays

Introduction

RTM requires there to be infinitely many concepts that are complex and finitely many that are primitive.Jean-marc pizano