Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts III: Other Arguments Against BCP

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2010 17:50:24 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Walter:
Well, I think that things like Beauty and Knowledge would produce 
disagreements, even among those that display a sorting ability. I don't read it 
as "getting every case right" so much as "picking out Cs from non-Cs".
There was an actual case of a person who had severe epilepsy, I think. The 
seizure would begin in one cerebral hemisphere and migrate to the other, 
increasing in intensity. Surgeons severed the corpus callosum in the person's 
brain, and this alleviated the seizures. However, the guy couldn't express what 
he was seeing sometimes. If they'd present him a picture in his left visual 
hemisphere, so that the visual information was transmitted to the right side of 
his brain, then he could react to the picture, even laugh at what was depicted, 
but he couldn't say what it was. The recognition and emotional response that 
was located in the right cerebral hemisphere could not be communicated to the 
left parietal lobe--because the corpus callosum was severed--and it's in the 
left-hand side of the brain where language is located. He couldn't sort America 
Ferreras from Scarlett Johannsons, as it were.

--- On Thu, 9/2/10, walto <calhorn@xxxxxxx> wrote:

From: walto <calhorn@xxxxxxx>
Subject: [quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts III: Other Arguments Against 
To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thursday, September 2, 2010, 5:24 PM


--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Ron Allen <wavelets@...> wrote:
> Right: without it is.
> There might be two cases:
> 1. Someone X claims to have a concept, but can't sort on the concept.
> 2. Someon Y claims X has a concept, but X can't sort on the concept.
> Both are problematic. 
> In (1), X really can't show the concept possessed. At most X can say that he 
> has the concept of a dieseldown, but can't sort dieseldowns. What kind of 
> contemplation can X enjoy with this concept? How can X know that he's 
> contemplating dieseldowns, when he's not even sure that he's not 
> contemplating a Meyer lemon, a lugnut, or an echidna? Thus, in (1) no example 
> could be given that could convince us. It would just be X's assertion. In 
> this case, Fodor's paper could have been just one sentence.
> In (2), the concept could be explained by Y, and Y could also show that X 
> can't sort the concept explained. But, how can Y show that X has the concept? 
> Here, I think the only chance Y has of demonstrating the point is to argue 
> that somehow X has a subconscious concept of, say, a dieseldown, and shows 
> some behaviors that are definitive of dieseldown-concept possession. But, 
> confronted by examples of dieseldowns and non-dieseldowns, X gets befuddled, 
> withdraws, and can't sort them. It's a possible line of attack. One 
> sometimes sees in sociological research arguments to the effect that there 
> exists within a population proclivities that are delineable but not assented 
> to by the individuals in the population. Everyone says, sure I'd vote for a 
> woman police chief, but then she loses in the general election. That sort of 
> thing. It would require an involved argument. But, I could see where the 
> unconscious concept could be shown in a population, but I still
> wonder if there isn't a fundamental contradiction in showing it for a person, 
> such as X. I wonder if in hoping to establish this point, that Y would not 
> have to point to examples of X interacting with dieseldowns and 
> non-dieseldowns, and that this would simply be an unconsciously expressed 
> epistemic criterion. If Y doesn't point to examples like this, where there is 
> at least Mr. X and a dieseldown sometimes, how can Y show that X has the 
> concept?
> Thanks!
> --Ron

How about BEAUTY? Couldn't I have that concept without being able to sort 
beautiful things? KNOWLEDGE is another problematic one for a sorting criterion, 
I think. 


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