[SydPhil] Notification: Nick Shea, "Concept-driven suppositional thinking" @ Wed 14 Sept 2022 15:30 - 17:00 (AEST) (Seminars)

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Nick Shea, "Concept-driven suppositional thinking"
Wednesday 14 Sept 2022 ⋅ 15:30 – 17:00
Eastern Australia Time - Sydney

Philosophy Seminar RoomSimulcast via  
Zoom: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/87937027507Abstract:Work on  
concepts has concentrated on categorization. Categorization is a process  
that starts with perceptual representations and other special-purpose  
resources, transitioning from these to a conceptual representation. Just as  
important, however, are inferences that, rather than being driven by  
current stimuli, start with a conceptual representation. We engage in  
‘offline’ thinking to formulate plans and take decisions, as well as to  
derive consequences from facts that we remember and episodes that we have  
experienced. The usual paradigm for conceptually-driven thinking is  
reasoning. In reasoning we move from some concept-involving thoughts to  
others. Reasoning deploys a general-purpose computational process, rather  
like theorem-proving in logic, and uses the general-purpose  
representational system of conceptual thought.Often overlooked between  
these two paradigms is the way that offline processing, driven by concepts,  
draws on special-purpose resources. These resources can be sensory,  
motoric, affective, evaluative or supra-modal (e.g. a spatial map). The  
phenomenon itself is familiar: we imagine a situation or think through a  
counterfactual scenario using representations from special-purpose systems.  
What is under-theorised is how suppositional thinking driven by conceptual  
representations actually works. This paper offers an empirically-based  
model of the process. Concepts act as an interface, allowing concept-driven  
thinking to draw on representational structures of various different kinds,  
and to rely on computational processes of two distinct types. It seems that  
concepts furnish us with a general-purpose ability to use special-purpose  
resources. That is the basis of the distinctive power of conceptual thought.

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