[quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts V: Circularity & Peacocke's implicit definition theory

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 06:36:07 -0000

Hi quickphilosophy group:

I'm still working on Section 3.3 of Fodor's paper 'Having concepts: a brief 
refutation of the twentieth century,' "Mind & Language," vol. 19, no. 1, Feb. 
200, pp. 29-47. The second subsection (pp. 40 ff.) is about circularity and 
inference, and it concerns not Bare-Bones Concept Pragmatism (BCP) explicitly, 
but a related philosophical standpoint, where *implicit definition* as a key 
element of concept possession. The related philosophical tendency is 
represented by Peacocke, "A Study of Concepts," Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.

Fodor begins with the concepts of the logical connectives, and he works, again 
by example, from Peacocke's formulation of concept possession for CONJUNCTION, 
or the logical AND operation, of logic. For Peacocke, a thinker possesses the 
concept of CONJUNCTION precisely by accepting the inference rules for logical 

pCq     pCq     p
---      ---     ---
p           q         pCq

So if a thinker can get from premises containing CONJUNCTION (C) to those that 
don't, and that thinker can get from premises that don't contain CONJUNCTION to 
those that do, then that thinker possesses the concept of CONJUNCTION.

The inferences are valid because of *their form alone*, and that is all there 
is to having the concept of CONJUNCTION (according to Fodor's rendition of 
Peacocke). But is grasping the concept of CONJUNCTION the same as following the 
above schema for its elimination (two one the left) and its introduction 
(scheme on the right)? Fodor argues that this claim is invalid (p. 41).

Thanks  & more later!

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