Philosophical Studies

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 359–384

The origins of concepts


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-007-9150-8

Cite this article as:
Weiskopf, D.A. Philos Stud (2008) 140: 359. doi:10.1007/s11098-007-9150-8


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.


ConceptsLearningAcquisitionNativismInnatenessLanguage of thought

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA