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Samuel D. Taylor (Kent): “The Explanatory Role of Concepts”

14 December 2020, 2:00 pm3:30 pm

This event will take place online via Zoom. 

Everyone is welcome to join using a computer with access to the internet and Zoom. To take part just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

Abstract: Machery (2009) and Weiskopf (2009) argue that the kind CONCEPT is a natural kind if and only if it plays an explanatory role in cognitive scientific explanations. In this paper, we argue against this explanationist approach to determining the natural kind-hood of CONCEPT. We first demonstrate that hybrid, pluralist, and eliminativist theories of concepts afford the kind CONCEPT different explanatory roles. Then, we argue that we cannot decide between hybrid, pluralist, and eliminativist theories of concepts, because each endorses a different, but equally viable, specification of the explananda of cognitive science. It follows that an explanationist approach to determining the natural kind-hood of CONCEPT fails, because there is no consensus about whether or not CONCEPT should be afforded an explanatory role in our best cognitive scientific explanations. We conclude by considering what our critique of explanationism could imply for further discussions about the explanatory role of concepts in cognitive science.


Samuel D. Taylor joined the University of Kent in 2020, having previously held a teaching and research position at the University of Düsseldorf and having spent time as a visiting researcher at Rutgers University and the University of Antwerp.Samuel is interested in the nature of cognitive scientific explanation and the relation between such explanations and theories of mental structure and content. He has also worked on topics in the philosophy of education and on developing Bayesian models of cognitive competences. He defended his PhD summa cum laude in 2019 with a thesis entitled “Concepts and the Appeal to Cognitive Science” (forthcoming with De Gruyter).


14 December 2020
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Event Category:




Online via Zoom