Doing Without Concepts

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Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework.

In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to make sense of the research on concepts in psychology and neuropsychology. Machery shows that the class of concepts divides into several distinct kinds that have little in common with one another and that for this very reason, it is a mistake to attempt to encompass all known phenomena within a single theory of concepts. In brief, concepts are not a natural kind. Machery concludes that the theoretical notion of concept should be eliminated from the theoretical apparatus of contemporary psychology and should be replaced with theoretical notions that are more appropriate for fulfilling psychologists' goals. The notion of concept has encouraged psychologists to believe that a single theory of concepts could be developed, leading to useless theoretical controversies between the dominant paradigms of concepts. Keeping this notion would slow down, and maybe prevent, the development of a more adequate classification and would overshadow the theoretical and empirical issues that are raised by this more adequate classification. Anyone interested in cognitive science's emerging view of the mind will find Machery's provocative ideas of interest.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195306880
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/27/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edouard Machery, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh as well as a resident fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science (University of Pittsburgh) and a member fo the Center for neural Basis of Cognition (Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Chapter 1 Concepts in Psychology
1. "Concept" in Psychology
2. Evidence for the Existence of Concepts
3. What is a Psychological Theory of Concepts?
4. Alternative Characterizations of the Notion of Concept
Chapter 2 Concepts in Philosophy
1. "Concept" in Philosophy
2. Concepts in Philosophy versus Concepts in Psychology
3. How are the Psychological and the Philosophical Theories of Concepts Connected? Peacocke's Simple Account
4. How are the Psychological and the Philosophical Theories of Concepts Connected? The Foundationalist Account
Chapter 3 The Heterogeneity Hypothesis
1. The Received View
2. The Heterogeneity Hypothesis
3. Hybrid Theories of Concepts
Chapter 4 Three Fundamental Kinds of Concepts: Prototypes, Exemplars, Theories
1. The Classical Theory of concepts
2. The Prototype Paradigm of Concepts
3. The Exemplar Paradigm of Concepts
4. The Theory Paradigm of Concepts
5. Alternative Views of Concepts
6. Three Theoretical Entities that Have Little in Common
Chapter 5 Multi-Process Theories
1. Multi-Process Theories
2. Examples of Multi-Process Theories
Chapter 6 Categorization and Concept Learning
1. Categorization and Concept Learning
2. Studying Categorization and Concept Learning
3. Evidence for the Existence of Prototypes
4. Evidence for the Existence of Exemplars
5. Evidence for the Existence of Theories
6. Organization of the Categorization Processes and of the Concept Learning Processes
Chapter 7 Induction, Concept Combination, Neuropsychology:
1. Induction
2. Concept Combination
3. Neuropsychology
Chapter 8 Concept Eliminativism
1. Two Inconclusive Arguments against the Notion of Concept
2. Natural Kinds and Scientific Eliminativism
3. The Argument for the Elimination of "Concept"
4. Objections and Replies
Index of Names
Index of Subjects

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