Having Concepts: a Brief Refutation of the Twentieth Century



Abstract:  A certain ‘pragmatist’ view of concept possession has defined the mainstream of Anglophone philosophy of language/mind for decades: namely, that to have the concept C is to be able to distinguish Cs from non-Cs, and/or to recognize the validity of certain C-involving inferences. The present paper offers three arguments why no such account could be viable. An alternative ‘Cartesian’ view is outlined, according to which having C is being able to think about Cs ‘as such’. Some consequences of the proposed paradigm shift are briefly considered.