The Constitution Hypothesis

Fiona Cowie

in What's Within?

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195159783
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849529 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

The Constitution Hypothesis

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As the empiricist view relies much on the notion that concept acquisition involves coming up with and testing hypotheses about a concept's meaning or content, Fodor asserts that such is not possible and is self-defeating, since concepts do not possess the kinds of meanings that would allow the derivation of hypotheses. Looking into Fodor's writings, we see how he was able to conclude without having to deny the significance of experience in acquiring a concept, that most concepts must be innate and that they are not learned. Experience is indeed necessary, and from this we are able to identify two acquisition models. According to the author, the more reliable model looks into how experience sets off an inner mechanism that allows us to become “wired up” in acquiring concepts through gaining experience. This chapter discusses Fodor's “Constitution Hypothesis” to address the doorknob/DOORKNOB problem.

Keywords: empiricist view; content; meaning; Fodor; experience; concept acquisition; inner mechanism; doorknob/DOORKNOB problem; Constitution Hypothesis

Chapter.  10361 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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