Rives Publishes on Concepts and Perception

Posted on 3/29/2010 2:06:14 PM

An article by Dr. Brad Rives, of the Department of Philosophy, “Concepts and Perceptual Belief: How (Not) to Defend Recognitional Concepts” was accepted for publication in Acta Analytica. The article has been published on line and will appear in print in a forthcoming issue.


Although most concept theorists have given up on the empiricist claim that all of the concepts inhabiting the adult mind are ultimately grounded in perception, or built up out of perceptual representations, many nevertheless hold that at least some concepts are constitutively connected to perception. Such concepts have come to be called "recognitional concepts" and they have the following characteristic property: thinkers are disposed to form perceptual beliefs invovling them merely on the basis of undergoing certain perceptual experiences. I argue that a prominent strategy for defending the existence of constitutive connections among concepts, which appeals to thinkers’ semantic-cum-conceptual intuitions, cannot be used to defend the existence of constitutive connections between concepts and perceptual beliefs. I then outline and defend an alternative argument for the existence of recognitional concepts, which appeals to certain psychological laws.