A concept is a “cluster of dispositions to be responsive to
differences in a particular region of possible worlds”Haslanger (2020), 239
. It enables distinctions and thus represents a class of things in widest sense, from perceivable objects to abstractions and theoretical posits.
Concepts have a set of ideally complementary functions:
- ; thus they structure the social space we interact in.
- ; they also structure the logical space we build models in.
- Models. ; they support the generation, retrieval, and connection of
There is an ongoing debate whether their contribution to “modelling
the world” or to “solving coordination problems” is the original evolved
function of concepts (the other one being a later exaptation).This is similar to the question whether the functional
or informational character of a
Model is the
In general,; they are useful when they fulfil (some of) these functions, which will be judged differently from different social positions.
They can fulfil their functions efficiently because Concepts are compressed models – they make the models’ salient features accessible with less cognitive effort.
Every concept is part of a Concept Network, the position in which determines the concept’s specific function and content.
As compressed models and network components, Concepts are attractors.
To gain more Knowledge as well as, we need to , i.e. induce phases of stabilisation and destabilisation of these attractors.
- Haslanger (2020): “How Not to Change the Subject”
- Laurence & Margolis (1999): “Concepts and Cognitive Science”
- Quine (1951): “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”