Scientific Concepts as Forward-Looking: How Taxonomic Structure Facilitates Conceptual Development
Brill Academic Publishers
Journal of the Philosophy of History
This paper examines the interplay between conceptual structure and the evolution of scientific concepts, arguing that concepts are fundamentally ‘forward-looking’ constructs. Drawing on empirical studies of similarity and categorization, I explicate the way in which the conceptual taxonomy highlights the ‘relevant respects’ for similarity judgments involved in categorization. I then propose that this taxonomy provides some of the cognitive underpinnings of the ongoing development of scientific concepts. I use the concept synapse to illustrate my proposal, showing how conceptual taxonomy both facilitates and constrains the accommodation of newly discovered phenomena. I end by briefly considering the implications of the proposed approach for a normative evaluation of scientific concepts.
Bloch-Mullins, Corinne L., "Scientific Concepts as Forward-Looking: How Taxonomic Structure Facilitates Conceptual Development" (2020). Philosophy Faculty Research and Publications. 821.