Sunday, May 19, 2024

Natural Concepts and the Economics of Cognition and Communication

Peter Gärdenfors, Natural Concepts and the Economics of Cognition and Communication, Philosophia, March 2024,

Abstract: This article takes a cognitive approach to natural concepts. The aim is to introduce criteria that are evaluated with respect to how they support the cognitive economy of humans when using concepts in reasoning and communicating with them. I first present the theory of conceptual spaces as a tool for expressing the criteria. Then I introduce the central idea that natural concepts correspond to convex regions of a conceptual space. I argue that this criterion has far-reaching consequences as regards natural concepts. Partly following earlier work, I present some other criteria that further delimit the class of natural concepts. One of these is coherence, which does not seem to have been discussed previously. Finally, I show that convexity and other criteria make it possible to ensure that people mean the same thing when they communicate using concepts. Apart from its philosophical interest, the analysis presented in the article will be relevant for tasks of conceptual engineering in artificial systems that work with concepts.

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