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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Two of these are particularly relevant. The first is familiar and quite general (see Chapter 1 andFodor and Lepore 1992) and I won’t go on about it here. Suffice it that if the individuation of concepts is literallyrelativized to whole belief systems, then no two people, and no two time slices of a given person, are ever subsumed bythe same intentional generalizations, and the prospects for robust theories in intentional psychology are negligible.

Jean-marc pizano Two of these are particularly relevant. The first is familiar and quite general (see Chapter 1 andFodor and Lepore 1992) and I won’t go on about it here. Suffice it that if the individuation of concepts is literallyrelativized to whole belief systems, then no two people, and no two time slices of a given person, are ever subsumed bythe same intentional generalizations, and the prospects for robust theories in intentional psychology are negligible.

 

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But I do want to say a word or so about the second objection, which is that holism about content individuation doesn’t square with key principles of the theory theory itself. Consider, in particular, the idea that new concepts get introduced,in the course of theory change, by a kind of implicit theoretical definition. In all the examples I’ve heard of, a theorycan be used to effect the implicit definition of a new term only if at least some of its vocabulary is isolated from meaningchanges of the sorts that holists say that concept introduction brings about. That’s hardly surprising. Intuitively, implicitdefinition determines the meaning of a new term by determining its inferential relations to terms in the host theorythat are presumed to be previously understood. It is, to put it mildly, hard to see how this could work if introducing a newconcept into a theory ipso facto changes what all the old terms mean. For then the expressions by reference to which theneologism is introduced aren’t ‘previously understood’ after all: they are just homophones of the previously understoodexpressions.23

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Consider, for a familiar example, the introduction by implicit definition of a logical constant like ‘A’. The idea is that to determine that ‘A’ has the same sense as the (truth conditional, inclusive) English ‘or’, it’s sufficient to stipulate that:

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But the plausibility of claiming that these stipulations determine that ‘A’ means ‘or’ depends on supposing that they preserve the standard interpretations of ‘’ (= conjunction), ‘D(= negation), and ‘^’ (= truth-functional implication).That, however, implies that the interpretation of ‘’, H, and ‘^’ must be assumed to be isolated from whatever meaningchanges adding ‘A’ to the host theory is supposed to bring about; an assumption that is contrary, apparently, to theholist thesis that the semantic effects of theory change reverberate throughout the vocabulary of the theory. (I say thatit’s ‘apparently contrary to the holist thesis because I know of no formulation of semantic holism that is preciseenough to yield unequivocal entailments about which changes of theory effect which changes of meaning.)

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This isn’t just a technical problem; texts that flout it tend to defy coherent exegesis. Consider, for one example among very many, Gopnik’s suggestion24 that

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An ‘object’ is a theoretical entity which explains sequences of what (for lack of a better term) we might call object-appearances at the evidential level… At the very earliest stage infants seem to have a few rules about the relations between their own actions and object-appearances, for example, infants seem to know that objects disappear whenyou turn away from them and reappear when you turn back to them. (1988: 205)

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(and so forth, mutatis mutandis, for further ‘rules’ that the child gets later).

How are we to interpret this passage? Notice the tell-tale aporia (where are you, Jacques Derrida, now that we need you?). The rule with which the infants are credited is said to be about “relations between their own actions and object-appeamncei’ (my emphasis). But, when an instance of such a rule is offered, it turns out to be that “objects [my emphasis]disappear when you turn away from them”. Question: what does ‘objects’ mean in this rule? In particular, what does itmean to the infant who, we’re supposing, learns the concept OBJECT by a process that involves formulating andadopting the rule?25 If it means object-appearances, then (quite aside from traditional worries about how an appearancecould reappear) it doesn’t do what Gopnik wants; since it specifies a relation among object-appearances, it doesn’t givethe infant information about the relation between objects and object-appearances.

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So, maybe ‘object’ means theoretical entity which explains sequences of what (for lack of a better term) we might call object-appearances at the evidential level.Jean-marc pizano

Idealism followed, of course.

Jean-marc pizano Idealism followed, of course.

 

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It is possible to feel that these various ways of motivating IRS, historically effective though they clearly were, are much less than overwhelmingly persuasive. For example, on reflection, it doesn’t seem that languages are a lot like gamesafter all: queens and pawns don’t mean anything, whereas ‘dog’ means dog. That’s why, though you can’t translate thequeen into French (or, a fortiori, into checkers), you can translate ‘dog’ into ‘chien’. It’s perhaps unwise to insist on ananalogy that misses so glaring a difference.

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Phonemes don’t mean anything either, so prima facie, pace Saussure, “having a phonological value” and “having a semantic value” would seem to be quite different sorts of properties. Even if it were right that phonemes areindividuated by their contrasts and equivalences—which probably they aren’t—that wouldn’t be much of a reason toclaim that words or concepts are also individuated that way.

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If, in short, one asks to hear some serious arguments for IRS, one discovers, a bit disconcertingly, that they are very thin upon the ground. I think that IRS is most of what is wrong with current theorizing in cognitive science and themetaphysics of meaning. But I don’t suppose for a minute that any short argument will, or should, persuade you toconsider junking it. I expect that will need a long argument; hence this long book. Long arguments take longer thanshort arguments, but they do sometimes create conviction.

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Accordingly, my main subject in what follows will be not the history of

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IR semantics, or the niceties of its formulation, or its evidential status, but rather its impact on empirical theories of concepts. The central consideration will be this: If you wish to hold that the content of a concept is constituted by theinferences that it enters into, you are in need of a principled way of deciding which inferences constitute which concepts. Whatprimarily distinguishes the cognitive theories we’ll consider is how they answer this question. My line will be that,though as far as anybody knows the answers they offer exhaust the options, pretty clearly none of them can be right.Not, NB, that they are incoherent, or otherwise confused; just that they fail to satisfy the empirical constraints ontheories of concepts that I’ve been enumerating, and are thus, almost certainly, false.

At that point, I hope that abandoning IRS in favour of the sort of atomistic, informational semantics that I tentatively endorsed in Chapter 1 will begin to appear to be the rational thing to do. I’ll say something in Chapter 6 about whatthis sort of alternative to IRS might be like.

So much for the first of my two concluding addenda. Here is the second:

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I promised you in Chapter 1 that I wouldn’t launch yet another defence of RTM; I proposed—aside from my admittedly tendentious endorsement of informational semantics—simply to take RTM for granted as the context inwhich problems about the nature of concepts generally arise these days. I do mean to stick to this policy. Mostly. But Ican’t resist rounding off these two introductory chapters by remarking how nicely the pieces fit when you put them alltogether. I’m going to exercise my hobby-horse after all, but only a little.

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In effect, in these introductory discussions, we’ve been considering constraints on a theory of cognition that emerge from two widely different, and largely independent, research enterprises. On the one hand, there’s the attempt to savethe architecture of a Fregean—viz. a purely referential—theory of meaning by taking seriously the idea that conceptscan be distinguished by their ‘modes of presentation’ of their extensions. It‘s supposed to be modes of presentationthat answer the question ‘How can coreferential concepts be distinct?’ Here Frege’s motives concur with those ofInformational Semantics; since both are referential theories of content, both need a story about how thinking about theMorning Star could be different from thinking about the Evening Star, given that the two thoughts are connected withthe same ‘thing in the world’.

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The project of saving the Frege programme faces two major hurdles. First, ‘Mates cases’ appear to show that modes of presentations can‘t be senses.Jean-marc pizano

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Похожие записи:
  1. 3 The Demise of Definitions, Part I: The Linguist’sTale

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.

 

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.

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?

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.

‘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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Two of these are particularly relevant. The first is familiar and quite general (see Chapter 1 andFodor and Lepore 1992) and I won’t go on about it here. Suffice it that if the individuation of concepts is literallyrelativized to whole belief systems, then no two people, and no two time slices of a given person, are ever subsumed bythe same intentional generalizations, and the prospects for robust theories in intentional psychology are negligible.

Jean-marc pizano Two of these are particularly relevant. The first is familiar and quite general (see Chapter 1 andFodor and Lepore 1992) and I won’t go on about it here. Suffice it that if the individuation of concepts is literallyrelativized to whole belief systems, then no two people, and no two time slices of a given person, are ever subsumed bythe same intentional generalizations, and the prospects for robust theories in intentional psychology are negligible.

 

But I do want to say a word or so about the second objection, which is that holism about content individuation doesn’t square with key principles of the theory theory itself. Consider, in particular, the idea that new concepts get introduced,in the course of theory change, by a kind of implicit theoretical definition. In all the examples I’ve heard of, a theorycan be used to effect the implicit definition of a new term only if at least some of its vocabulary is isolated from meaningchanges of the sorts that holists say that concept introduction brings about. That’s hardly surprising. Intuitively, implicitdefinition determines the meaning of a new term by determining its inferential relations to terms in the host theorythat are presumed to be previously understood. It is, to put it mildly, hard to see how this could work if introducing a newconcept into a theory ipso facto changes what all the old terms mean. For then the expressions by reference to which theneologism is introduced aren’t ‘previously understood’ after all: they are just homophones of the previously understoodexpressions.23

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Consider, for a familiar example, the introduction by implicit definition of a logical constant like ‘A’. The idea is that to determine that ‘A’ has the same sense as the (truth conditional, inclusive) English ‘or’, it’s sufficient to stipulate that:

But the plausibility of claiming that these stipulations determine that ‘A’ means ‘or’ depends on supposing that they preserve the standard interpretations of ‘’ (= conjunction), ‘D(= negation), and ‘^’ (= truth-functional implication).That, however, implies that the interpretation of ‘’, H, and ‘^’ must be assumed to be isolated from whatever meaningchanges adding ‘A’ to the host theory is supposed to bring about; an assumption that is contrary, apparently, to theholist thesis that the semantic effects of theory change reverberate throughout the vocabulary of the theory. (I say thatit’s ‘apparently contrary to the holist thesis because I know of no formulation of semantic holism that is preciseenough to yield unequivocal entailments about which changes of theory effect which changes of meaning.)

This isn’t just a technical problem; texts that flout it tend to defy coherent exegesis. Consider, for one example among very many, Gopnik’s suggestion24 that

An ‘object’ is a theoretical entity which explains sequences of what (for lack of a better term) we might call object-appearances at the evidential level… At the very earliest stage infants seem to have a few rules about the relations between their own actions and object-appearances, for example, infants seem to know that objects disappear whenyou turn away from them and reappear when you turn back to them. (1988: 205)

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(and so forth, mutatis mutandis, for further ‘rules’ that the child gets later).

How are we to interpret this passage? Notice the tell-tale aporia (where are you, Jacques Derrida, now that we need you?). The rule with which the infants are credited is said to be about “relations between their own actions and object-appeamncei’ (my emphasis). But, when an instance of such a rule is offered, it turns out to be that “objects [my emphasis]disappear when you turn away from them”. Question: what does ‘objects’ mean in this rule? In particular, what does itmean to the infant who, we’re supposing, learns the concept OBJECT by a process that involves formulating andadopting the rule?25 If it means object-appearances, then (quite aside from traditional worries about how an appearancecould reappear) it doesn’t do what Gopnik wants; since it specifies a relation among object-appearances, it doesn’t givethe infant information about the relation between objects and object-appearances.

So, maybe ‘object’ means theoretical entity which explains sequences of what (for lack of a better term) we might call object-appearances at the evidential level.Jean-marc pizano