Staying in touch: Externalism needs descriptions

James A. Hampton
1998 Behavioral and Brain Sciences  
Commentary/Millikan: A common structure for concepts of individuals, stuffs, and real kinds 74 BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (1998) 21:1 to take the form of individual relations between reified "concepts" and real kinds. We can expect, however, that the external objects will play a crucial role in learning in the very bootstrapping processes I just described. Somehow our interactions with the external world lead us to form one set of ontological convictions, one theory, rather than another.
more » ... r than another. Even if knowing our theories is all we need to explain our current psychological functioning, we may well need to invoke relations to the external world to explain why we have those theories rather than others. These learning processes have been almost completely neglected in cognitive psychology. If Millikan's externalism forces us to solve the problem of how our interactions with the world lead to conceptual change, she will have provided an important service to psychology as well as philosophy. Abstract: Externalism cannot work as a theory of concepts without explaining how we reidentify substances as being of the same kind. Yet this process implies just the level of descriptive content to which externalism seeks to deny a role in conceptual content.
doi:10.1017/s0140525x98320403 fatcat:656o6nq6avhcfnovttmygkbqma