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Theory of concepts


Status Archive
School Nationell Forskarskola i Kognitionsvetenskap (SweCog)
Owner Annika Silvervarg
Homepage http://www.swecog.se/courses.shtml

This course is given by SweCog

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Course plan

No of Lectures

8 lectures.

Recommended for

All graduate students in SweCog.

The course was last given

The course has not been given before.


After finishing this couse students should:
• be familiar with classical and modern theories of concepts and concept formation.
• be able to use these theories in critical discussion and argumentation on the nature of concepts.
• be familiar with applications of concept theory
• be able to use conceptual analysis in theoretical and applied studies.


The course can be taken by all Ph.D. students in SweCog and Ph.D. students in related areas.


2 days intensive course and a final 2 day seminar with presentation of assignments and course papers.


Among the topics discussed in the course will be:
- A historical introduction - The nature of concepts, different views: mental representations, abilities, linguistic meanings or non-mental abstract essences
- More on the nature and function of concepts: the classical theory of necessary and sufficient conditions and cognitivistic theories like prototype theory, and the theory-theory of concepts.
- The empiricism nativism dispute: Locke vs Descartes, and Fodor vs Chomsky and their followers in modern Cognitive Science. Evolution and children’s development of concepts and language.
- Concepts and natural language: the priority between language and concepts; Whorf/Wittgenstein about linguistic idealism, weaker forms of linguistic relativism, and views giving priority to mental representations
- Exploring conceptual analysis through language
- Concepts and conceptual analysis: the traditional view of a priori reasoning, the role of testing definitions or assumptions against intuitions provoked by thought experiments, how to conceive of the role of linguistic intuitions, and the usefulness of conceptual analysis whatever its nature turns out to be.
- Concepts and the brain
- Concepts, ontologies and the internet


Allwood, J. 1989. "Om begrepp - deras bestämning, analys och konstruktion", (ms)
Allwood, J.1999. "Semantics as Meaning Determination with Semantic Epistemic Operations" In Allwood, J. & Gärdenfors, P. (eds.) Cognitive Semantics. Amsterdam: Benjamins. pp. 1-18.
Murphy, L.G. 2004 (first edition 2002) The Big Book of Concepts, MIT Press.
Laurence, S. and Margolis, E (eds). Concepts: Core Readings, 1999, MIT Press.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy about Concepts
Plus a a few more articles


Jens Allwood, Alexander Almér, Björn Haglund, Mikael Jensen, Elisabeth Ahlsén


Jens Allwood, Alexander Almér, Mikael Jensen


Assignments and course paper


7,5 hp


Jens Allwood jens@ling.gu.se

Page responsible: Director of Graduate Studies
Last updated: 2012-05-03