Concepts, Abilities, and Propositions

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This article investigates whether the concept of a concept can be given a fairly uniform explanation through a 'cognitivist' account, one that accepts that concepts exist independently of individual subjects, yet nonetheless invokes mental achievements and capacities. I consider various variants of such an account, which identify a concept, respectively, with a certain kind of abilitiy, rule and way of thinking. All of them are confronted with what I call the 'proposition problem', namely that unlike these explananda concepts are standardly regarded as components of propositions. The paper ends by suggesting that this problem can be resolved by recognizing the different ways in which concepts can be involved in judgements or propositions, and by undermining the building-block model of concepts as abstract parts of abstract wholes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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