Kovesi and the Formal and Material Elements of Concepts
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In his seminal work Moral Notions, Julius Kovesi presents a novel account of concept formation. At the heart of this account is a distinction between what he terms the material element and the formal element of concepts. This paper elucidates his distinction in detail and contrasts it with other distinctions such as form-matter, universal-particular, genus-difference, necessary-sufficient, and open texture-closed texture. We situate Kovesi’s distinction within his general philosophical method, outlining his views on concept formation in general and explain how his theory of concept formation is applied in moral philosophy.