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Conceptual Patchworks and Conceptual Housekeeping

Novick, Rose and Haueis, Philipp (2021) Conceptual Patchworks and Conceptual Housekeeping. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Recent work on scientific concepts has established that they often have a patchwork structure, in which use is regimented into distinct patches of application associated with distinct size- and/or time-scales, measurement techniques, and licensed inferences. Patchworks thus inherently involve structured polysemy. Why tolerate such conceptual complexity? Why not use distinct terms for each patch to avoid the threat of equivocation? At the very least, an account is owed about when such complexity goes too far: how and when do patchwork concepts fail? We address these questions by considering two cases of conceptual housekeeping: cases where the relevant scientists themselves judged a patchwork concept to have gone too far and took steps to clean up the mess. On the basis of these case studies (plus supporting normative arguments), we defend two theses. We argue, first, that such housekeeping efforts are context-sensitive: concept deviance cannot be read off concept structure alone. Second, we defend minimalism about such housekeeping: tolerance for conceptual complexity is an appropriate default attitude.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Novick, Roseamnovick@uw.edu
Haueis, Philippphilipp.haueis@uni-bielefeld.de0000-0002-0935-9015
Keywords: Scientific concepts, polysemy, conceptual patchworks, conceptual housekeeping, pluralism, eliminativism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Systems Neuroscience
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Philipp Haueis
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2022 12:23
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2022 12:23
Item ID: 21215
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Systems Neuroscience
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2021
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21215

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