Article

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 359-384

First online:

The origins of concepts

  • Daniel A. WeiskopfAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of South Florida Email author 

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Abstract

Certain of our concepts are innate, but many others are learned. Despite the plausibility of this claim, some have argued that the very idea of concept learning is incoherent. I present a conception of learning that sidesteps the arguments against the possibility of concept learning, and sketch several mechanisms that result in the generation of new primitive concepts. Given the rational considerations that motivate their deployment, I argue that these deserve to be called learning mechanisms. I conclude by replying to the objections that these mechanisms cannot produce genuinely new content and cannot be part of genuinely cognitive explanations.

Keywords

Concepts Learning Acquisition Nativism Innateness Language of thought