Just as it’s possible to dissociate the

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19

Just as it’s possible to dissociate the idea that concepts are complex from the claim that meaning-constitutive inferences are necessary, so too it’s possible to dissociate the idea that concepts are constituted by their roles in inferences from the claim that they are complex. See Appendix 5A.

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20

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More precisely, only with respect to conceptualy necessary inferences. (Notice that neither nomological nor metaphysical necessity will do; there might be laws about brown cows per se, and (who knows?) brown cows might have a proprietary hidden essence.) I don’t know what a Classical IRS theorist should say if it turns out that conceptuallynecessary inferences aren’t ipso facto definitional or vice versa. That, however, is his problem, not mine.

21

They aren’t the only ones, of course. For example, Keil remarks that “Theories . . . make it impossible … to talk about the construction of concepts solely on the basis ofprobabilistic distributions of properties in the world” (1987: 196). But that’s true only on the assumption that theories somehow constitute the concepts they contain. DittoKeil’s remark that “future work on the nature of concepts . . . must focus on the sorts of theories that emerge in children and how these theories come to influence thestructure of the concepts that they embrace” (ibid.).

22

There are exceptions. Susan Carey thinks that the individuation of concepts must be relativized to the theories they occur in, but that only the basic ‘ontological’commitments of a theory are content constitutive. (However, see Carey 1985: 168: “I assume that there is a continuum of degrees of conceptual differences, at the extremeend of which are concepts embedded in incommensurable conceptual systems.”) It’s left open how basic ontological claims are to be distinguished from commitments ofother kinds, and Carey is quite aware that problems about drawing this distinction are depressingly like the analytic/synthetic problems. But in so far as Carey has an accountof content individuation on offer, it does seem to be some version of the Classical theory.

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23

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This point is related, but not identical, to the familiar worry about whether implicit definition can effect a ‘qualitative change’ in a theory’s expressive power: the worry thatdefinitions (implicit or otherwise) can only introduce concepts whose contents are already expressible by the host theory. (For discussion, see Fodor 1975.) It looks to methat implicit definition is specially problematic for meaning holists even if it’s granted that an implicit definition can (somehow) extend the host theory’s expressive power.

24

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I don’t particularly mean to pick on Gopnik; the cognitive science literature is full of examples of the mistake that I’m trying to draw attention to. What’s unusual aboutGopnik’s treatment is just that it’s clear enough for one to see what the problem is.

25

As usual, it’s essential to keep in mind that when a de dicto intentional explanation attributes to an agent knowledge (rules, etc.), it thereby credits the agent with the conceptsinvolved in formulating the knowledge, and thus incurs the burden of saying what concepts they are. See the ‘methodological digression’ in Chapter 2.

26

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This chapter reconsiders some issues about the nativistic commitments of RTMs that I first raised in Fodor 1975 and then discussed extensively in 1981^. Casual familiaritywith the latter paper is recommended as a prolegomenon to this discussion.I’m especially indebted to Andrew Milne and to Peter Grim for having raised (essentially thesame) cogent objections to a previous version.

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27

For discussions that turn on this issue, see Fodor 1986; Antony and Levine 1991; Fodor 1991.

28

Actually, of course, DOORKNOB isn’t a very good example, since it’s plausibly a compound composed of the constituent concepts DOOR and KNOB. But let’s ignorethat for the sake of the discussion.

29

Well, maybe the acquisition of PROTON doesn’t; it’s plausible that PROTON is not typically acquired from its instances. So, as far as this part of the discussion is concerned, you are therefore free to take PROTON as a primitive concept if you want to. But I imagine you don’t want to.Perhaps, in any case, it goes without saying thatthe fact that the d/D effect is widespread in concept acquisition is itself contingent and a posteriori.

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To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

Jean-marc pizano To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

 

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15

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When Pinker’s analyses are clear enough to evaluate, they are often just wrong. For example, he notes in his discussion of causatives that the analysis PAINTvtr = cover withpaint is embarrassed by such observations as this: although when Michelangelo dipped his paintbrush in his paint pot he thereby covered the paintbrush with paint,nevertheless he did not, thereby, paint the paintbrush. (The example is, in fact, borrowed from Fodor 1970.) Pinker explains that “stereotypy or conventionality of mannerconstrains the causative . . . This might be called the ‘stereotypy effect’ ” (1984: 324). So it might, for all the good it does. It is possible, faut de mieux, to paint the wall withone’s handkerchief; with one’s bare hands; by covering oneself with paint and rolling up the wall (in which last case, by the way, though covering the wall with the paintcounts as painting the wall, covering oneself with the paint does not count as painting oneself even if one does it with a paintbrush; only as getting oneself covered withpaint).Whether you paint the wall when you cover it with paint depends not on how you do it but on what you have in mind when you do it: you have to have in mind notmerely to cover the wall with paint but to paint the wall. That is, “painty” apparently can’t be defined even in terms of such closely related expressions as “painty”. Or, if itcan, none of the decompositional analyses suggested so far, Pinker’s included, comes even close to showing how.

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16

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Sober (1984: 82) makes what amounts to the converse point: “In general, we expect theoretical magnitudes to be multiply accessible ; there should be more than one way of finding out what their values are in a given circumstance. This reflects the assumption that theoretical magnitudes have multiple causes and effects. There is no such thing asthe only possible effect or cause of a given event; likewise, there is no such thing as the only possible way of finding out whether it occurred. I won’t assert that this issomehow a necessary feature of all theoretical magnitudes, but it is remarkably widespread.” Note the suggestion that the phenomena in virtue of which a “theoreticalmagnitude” is multiply epistemically accessible are naturally construed as its “causes and its effects”. In the contrasting case, when there is only one access path (or, anyhow,only one access path that one can think of) the intuition is generally that the magnitude at issue isn’t bona fide theoretical, and that its connection to the criterion isconceptual rather than causal.

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17

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Terminological conventions with respect to the topics this chapter covers are unsettled. I’ll use ‘stereotype’ and ‘prototype’ interchangeably, to refer to mental representations of certain kinds of properties. So, ‘the dog stereotype’ and ‘the dog prototype’ designate some such (complex) concept as: BEING A DOMESTIC ANIMAL WHICHBARKS, HAS A TAIL WHICH IT WAGS WHEN IT IS PLEASED, . . . etc. I’ll use ‘exemplar’ for the mental representation of a kind, or of an individual, that instantiatesa prototype; so ‘sparrows are the exemplars of birds’ and ‘Bambi is Smith’s exemplar of a deer’ are both well-formed. ‘Sparrows are stereotypic birds’ (/‘Bambi is aprototypic deer’) are also OK; they mean that a certain kind (/individual) exhibits certain stereotypic (/prototypic) properties to a marked degree.

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18

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Elanor Rosche, who invented this account of concepts more or less single-handed, often speaks of herself as a Wittgensteinian; and there is, of course, a family resemblance. But I doubt that it goes very deep. Rosche’s project was to get modality out of semantics by substituting a probabilistic account of content-constituting inferences. Whereas Isuppose Wittgenstein’s project was to offer (or anyhow, make room for) an epistemic reconstruction of conceptual necessity. Rosche is an eliminativist where Wittgenstein is areductionist. There is, in consequence, nothing in Rosche’s theory of concepts that underwrites Wittgenstein’s criteriology, hence nothing that’s of use for bopping scepticswith.

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  1. 1 Philosophical Introduction: The BackgroundTheory

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

See also Keil 1991, where the primary contrast is between theory theories and “associative” models of concept structure. For a critical survey of the recent history, see Margolis 1994.

Jean-marc pizano See also Keil 1991, where the primary contrast is between theory theories and “associative” models of concept structure. For a critical survey of the recent history, see Margolis 1994.

 

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of concepts that we’ve already reviewed. Hence the relatively cursory treatment they’re about to receive.

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The basic idea is that concepts are like theoretical constructs in science as the latter are often construed by post-Empiricist philosophers of science. The caveat is important. For example, it’s not unusual (see Carey 1991; Gopnik 1988) amongtheory theorists to postulate ‘stage-like discontinuities’ in conceptual development, much as Piagetians do. But, unlikePiaget, theory theorists construe the putative stage changes on the analogy of—perhaps even as special cases of—thekinds of discontinuities that ‘paradigm shifts’ are said to occasion in the history of science. The usual Kuhnian moralsare often explicitly drawn:

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the concepts of the new and old theory and of the evidential description are incommensurable]. (Gopnik 1988: 199)

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Asking whether or not the six-month-old has a concept of object-permanence in the same sense that the 18-month-old does is like asking whether or not the alchemist and the chemist have the same concept of gold, or whether Newton had the same concept of space as Einstein. These concepts are embedded in complex theories and there isno simple way of comparing them. Moreover, particular concepts are inextricably intertwined with other conceptsin the theory. (Ibid.: 205)

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It should be clear how much this account of conceptual ontogenesis relies on a Kuhnian view of science. It isn’t just that if Kuhn is wrong about theory change, then Gopnik is wrong about the analogy between the history of scienceand conceptual development. It’s also that key notions like discontinuity and incommensurability aren’t explicated within theontogenetic theory; the buck is simply passed to the philosophers. “It may not resolve our puzzlement over thephenomena of qualitative conceptual change in childhood to point out that there are exactly parallel paradoxes ofincommensurability in science, but at this stage we may see the substitution of a single puzzling phenomenon for twoseparate puzzling phenomena as some sort of progress” (Gopnik 1988: 209). Correspondingly, however, if you findthe idea that a scientific theory-change is a paradigm shift less than fully perspicuous, you will also be uncertain whatexactly it is that the ontogenetic analogy asserts about stages of conceptual development. Your response will then be asense less of illumination than of déjà vu.

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If Gopnik finds some solace in this situation, that’s because, like Kuhn, she takes IRS not to be in dispute.21 The putative “problem of incommensurability”is that if the vocabulary of a science is implicitly defined by the theories it endorses, it‘s hard to see how the theories cancorrect or contradict each other. This state of affairs might be supposed to provide a precedent for psychologists toappeal to who hold that the minds of young children are incommensurably different from the minds of adults.Alternatively, it might be taken as a reductio of the supposition that the vocabulary of a science is implicitly defined byits theories. It’s hard to say which way one ought to take it barring some respectable story about how scientific theoriesimplicitly define their vocabularies; specifically, an account that makes clear which of the inferences that such a theorylicenses are constitutive of the concepts it deploys. And there’s no point in cognitive scientists relying on thephilosophy of science for an answer to this question; the philosophy of science hasn’t got one. It seems that we’re backwhere we started.

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In short, it may be that the right moral to draw from the putative analogy between scientific paradigms and developmental stages is that the ontogenesis of concepts is discontinuous, just like scientific theory-change. Or theright moral may be that, by relativizing the individuation of concepts to the individuation of theories, IRS makes a hashof both cognitive development and the history of science.

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If there is any positive account of conceptual content that most theory theorists are inclined towards, I suppose that it’s holism.22 I don’t, however, know of any attempt they have made seriously to confront the objections that meaningholism is prone to.Jean-marc pizano

So, then, here are my five not-negotiable conditions on a theory of concepts.

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So, then, here are my five not-negotiable conditions on a theory of concepts.

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1. Concepts are mental particulars; specifically, they satisfy whatever ontological conditions have to be met bythings that function as mental causes and effects.

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Since this is entailed by RTM (see Chapter 1), and hence is common to all the theories of concepts I’ll consider, I won’t go on about it here. If, however, you think that intentional causation explains behaviour only in the way that thesolubility of sugar explains its dissolving (see Ryle 1949), or if you think that intentional explanations aren’t causal at all(see e.g. Collins 1987), then nothing in the following discussion will be of much use to you, and I fear we’ve reached aparting of the ways. At least one of us is wasting his time; I do hope it’s you.

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2. Concepts are categories and are routinely employed as such.

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To say that concepts are categories is to say that they apply to things in the world; things in the world ‘fall under them’. So, for example, Greycat the cat, but not Dumbo the elephant, falls under the concept CAT. Which, for presentpurposes, is equivalent to saying that Greycat is in the extension of CAT, that ‘Greycat is a cat’ is true, and that ‘is a cat’is true of Greycat. I shall sometimes refer to this galaxy of considerations by saying that applications of concepts aresusceptible of ‘semantic evaluation-, claims, or thoughts, that a certain concept applies to a certain thing are alwayssusceptible of evaluation in such semantical terms as satisfied/unsatisfied, true/false, correct/incorrect, and the like.There are, to be sure, issues about these various aspects of semantic evaluability, and about the relations among them,that a scrupulous philosopher might well wish to attend to. But in this chapter, I propose to keep the philosophy to abare minimum.18

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Much of the life of the mind consists in applying concepts to things. If I think Greycat is a cat (de dicto, as it were), I thereby apply the concept CAT to Greycat (correctly, as it happens). If, looking at Greycat, I take him to be a cat, thentoo I apply the concept CAT to Greycat. (If looking at Greycat I take him to be a meatloaf, I thereby apply the conceptMEATLOAF to Greycat; incorrectly, as it happens.) Or if, in reasoning about Greycat, I infer that since he’s a cat hemust be an animal, I thereby proceed from applying one concept to Greycat to the licensed application of anotherconcept; the license consisting, I suppose, in things I know about how the extensions of the concepts CAT andANIMAL are related.

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In fact, RTM being once assumed, most of cognitive psychology, including the psychology of memory, perception, and reasoning, is about how we apply concepts. And most of the rest is about how we acquire the concepts that we thusapply. Correspondingly, the empirical data to which cognitive psychologists are responsible consist largely of measuresof subject performance in concept application tasks. The long and short is: whatever else a theory of concepts saysabout them, it had better exhibitconcepts as the sorts of things that get applied in the course of mental processes. I take it that consensus about this ispretty general in the cognitive sciences, so I won’t labour it further here.

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Caveat: it’s simply untendentious that concepts have their satisfaction conditions essentially. Nothing in any mental life could be the concept CAT unless it is satisfied by cats. It couldn’t be that there are some mental lives in which theconcept CAT applies to CATS and others in which it doesn’t. If you haven’t got a concept that applies to cats, thatentails that you haven’t got the CAT concept. But though the satisfaction conditions of a concept are patently among itsessential properties, it does not follow that the confirmation conditions of a concept are among its essential properties.Confirmation is an epistemic relation, not a semantic relation, and it is generally theory mediated, hence holistic. Onthe one hand, given the right background theory, the merest ripple in cat infested waters might serve to confirm anascription of cathood; and, on the other hand, no cat-containing layout is so well lit, or so utterly uncluttered, or soself-certifying that your failure to ascribe cathood therein would entail that you lack the concept.Jean-marc pizano

A classic case of getting off lightly by pleading to the lesser charge.

Jean-marc pizano A classic case of getting off lightly by pleading to the lesser charge.

 

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for an ontology of mental dispositions rather than an ontology of mental particulars. This sort of situation will be familiar to old hands; proposing dispositional analyses in aid of ontological reductions is the method of criticalphilosophy that Empiricism taught us. If you are down on cats, reduce them to permanent possibilities of sensation. Ifyou are down on electrons and protons, reduce them to permanent possibilities of experimental outcomes. And so on.There is, however, a salient difference between reductionism about cats and reductionism about concepts: perhapssome people think that they ought to think that cats are constructs out of possible experiences, but surely nobodyactually does think so; one tolerates a little mauvaisefoi in metaphysics. Apparently, however, lots of people do think thatconcepts are constructs out of mental (specifically epistemic) capacities. In consequence, and this is a considerationthat I take quite seriously, whereas nobody builds biological theories on the assumption that cats are sensations, muchof our current cognitive science, and practically all of our current philosophy of mind, is built on the assumption thatconcepts are capacities. If that assumption is wrong, very radical revisions are going to be called for. So, at least, I’llargue.

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To sum up so far: it’s entirely plausible that a theory of what concepts are must likewise answer the question ‘What is it to have a concept?’ and, mutatis mutandis, that a theory of meaning must answer the question ‘What is it to understand alanguage?’ We’ve been seeing, however, that this untendentious methodological demand often comports with asubstantive metaphysical agenda: viz. the reduction of concepts and meanings to epistemic capacities.

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Thus Michael Dummett (1993a: 4), for one illustrious example, says that “any theory of meaning which was not, or did not immediately yield, a theory of understanding, would not satisfy the purpose for which, philosophically, we require atheory of meaning”. There is, as previously remarked, a reading on which this is true but harmless since whateverontological construal of the meaning of an expression we settle on will automatically provide a corresponding construal ofunderstanding the expression as grasping its meaning. It is not, however, this truism that Dummett is commending. Rather,he has it in mind that an acceptable semantics must explicate linguistic content just by reference to the “practical”capacities that users of a language have qua users of that language. (Correspondingly, a theory that explicates the notionof conceptual content would do so just by reference to the practical capacities that having the concept bestows.)Moreover, if I read him right, Dummett intends to impose this condition in a very strong form: the capacities uponwhich linguistic meaning supervenes must be such as can be severally and determinately manifested in behaviour. “Anaxiom earns its place in the

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theory [of meaning] . . . only to the extent that it is required for the derivation of theorems the ascription of an implicit knowledge of which to a speaker is explained in terms of specific abilities which manifest that knowledge (1993b: 38; myemphasis).

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I don’t know for sure why Dummett believes that, but I darkly suspect that he’s the victim of atavistic sceptical anxieties about communication. Passages like the following recur in his writings:

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What . . . constitutes a subject’s understanding the sentences of a language . . . ? [I]s it his having internalized a certain theory of meaning for that language? . . . then indeed his behaviour when he takes part in linguisticinterchange can at best be strong but fallible evidence for the internalized theory. In that case, however, the hearer’spresumption that he has understood the speaker can never be definitively refuted or confirmed. (1993c: 180; noticehow much work the word ‘definitively5 is doing here.)

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So, apparently, the idea is that theories about linguistic content should reduce to theories about language use; and theories about language use should reduce to theories about the speaker’s linguistic capacities; and theories about thespeaker’s linguistic capacities are constrained by the requirement that any capacity that is constitutive of the knowledgeof a language is one that the speaker’s use of the language can overtly and specifically manifest. All this must be in aidof devising a bullet-proof anti-scepticism about communication, since it would seem that for purposes other thanrefuting sceptics, all the theory of communication requires is that a speaker’s utterances reliably cause certain ‘innerprocesses’ in the hearer; specifically, mental processes which eventuate in the hearer having the thought that thespeaker intended him to have.

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To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

Jean-marc pizano To theextent that we have some grasp on what concepts terms like ‘S’, ‘NP’, ADJ’ express, the theory that children learn by syntactic boostrapping is at least better defined thanPinker’s. (And to the extent that we don’t, it’s not.)

 

15

When Pinker’s analyses are clear enough to evaluate, they are often just wrong. For example, he notes in his discussion of causatives that the analysis PAINTvtr = cover withpaint is embarrassed by such observations as this: although when Michelangelo dipped his paintbrush in his paint pot he thereby covered the paintbrush with paint,nevertheless he did not, thereby, paint the paintbrush. (The example is, in fact, borrowed from Fodor 1970.) Pinker explains that “stereotypy or conventionality of mannerconstrains the causative . . . This might be called the ‘stereotypy effect’ ” (1984: 324). So it might, for all the good it does. It is possible, faut de mieux, to paint the wall withone’s handkerchief; with one’s bare hands; by covering oneself with paint and rolling up the wall (in which last case, by the way, though covering the wall with the paintcounts as painting the wall, covering oneself with the paint does not count as painting oneself even if one does it with a paintbrush; only as getting oneself covered withpaint).Whether you paint the wall when you cover it with paint depends not on how you do it but on what you have in mind when you do it: you have to have in mind notmerely to cover the wall with paint but to paint the wall. That is, “painty” apparently can’t be defined even in terms of such closely related expressions as “painty”. Or, if itcan, none of the decompositional analyses suggested so far, Pinker’s included, comes even close to showing how.

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16

Sober (1984: 82) makes what amounts to the converse point: “In general, we expect theoretical magnitudes to be multiply accessible ; there should be more than one way of finding out what their values are in a given circumstance. This reflects the assumption that theoretical magnitudes have multiple causes and effects. There is no such thing asthe only possible effect or cause of a given event; likewise, there is no such thing as the only possible way of finding out whether it occurred. I won’t assert that this issomehow a necessary feature of all theoretical magnitudes, but it is remarkably widespread.” Note the suggestion that the phenomena in virtue of which a “theoreticalmagnitude” is multiply epistemically accessible are naturally construed as its “causes and its effects”. In the contrasting case, when there is only one access path (or, anyhow,only one access path that one can think of) the intuition is generally that the magnitude at issue isn’t bona fide theoretical, and that its connection to the criterion isconceptual rather than causal.

17

Terminological conventions with respect to the topics this chapter covers are unsettled. I’ll use ‘stereotype’ and ‘prototype’ interchangeably, to refer to mental representations of certain kinds of properties. So, ‘the dog stereotype’ and ‘the dog prototype’ designate some such (complex) concept as: BEING A DOMESTIC ANIMAL WHICHBARKS, HAS A TAIL WHICH IT WAGS WHEN IT IS PLEASED, . . . etc. I’ll use ‘exemplar’ for the mental representation of a kind, or of an individual, that instantiatesa prototype; so ‘sparrows are the exemplars of birds’ and ‘Bambi is Smith’s exemplar of a deer’ are both well-formed. ‘Sparrows are stereotypic birds’ (/‘Bambi is aprototypic deer’) are also OK; they mean that a certain kind (/individual) exhibits certain stereotypic (/prototypic) properties to a marked degree.

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18

Elanor Rosche, who invented this account of concepts more or less single-handed, often speaks of herself as a Wittgensteinian; and there is, of course, a family resemblance. But I doubt that it goes very deep. Rosche’s project was to get modality out of semantics by substituting a probabilistic account of content-constituting inferences. Whereas Isuppose Wittgenstein’s project was to offer (or anyhow, make room for) an epistemic reconstruction of conceptual necessity. Rosche is an eliminativist where Wittgenstein is areductionist. There is, in consequence, nothing in Rosche’s theory of concepts that underwrites Wittgenstein’s criteriology, hence nothing that’s of use for bopping scepticswith.

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  1. 1 Philosophical Introduction: The BackgroundTheory