When are concepts comparable across minds?

When are concepts comparable across minds? In communication, people cannot resort to direct reference (e.g., pointing) when using diffuse concepts like democracy. Given that concepts reside in individuals’ minds, how can people share those concepts? We argue that concepts are comparable across a social group if they afford agreement for those who use it; and that agreement occurs whenever individuals receive evidence that others conceptualize a given situation similarly to them. Based on Conceptual Agreement Theory, we show how to compute an agreement probability based on the sets of properties belonging to concepts. If that probability is sufficiently high, this shows that concepts afford an adequate level of agreement, and one may say that concepts are comparable across individuals’ minds. In contrast to other approaches, our method considers that inter-individual variability in naturally occurring conceptual content exists and is a fact that must be taken into account, whereas other theories treat variability as error that should be cancelled out. Given that conceptual variability will exist, our approach may establish whether concepts are comparable across individuals’ minds more soundly than previous methods. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Quality & Quantity Springer Journals

When are concepts comparable across minds?

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Subject
Social Sciences; Methodology of the Social Sciences; Social Sciences, general
ISSN
0033-5177
eISSN
1573-7845
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11135-015-0210-4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In communication, people cannot resort to direct reference (e.g., pointing) when using diffuse concepts like democracy. Given that concepts reside in individuals’ minds, how can people share those concepts? We argue that concepts are comparable across a social group if they afford agreement for those who use it; and that agreement occurs whenever individuals receive evidence that others conceptualize a given situation similarly to them. Based on Conceptual Agreement Theory, we show how to compute an agreement probability based on the sets of properties belonging to concepts. If that probability is sufficiently high, this shows that concepts afford an adequate level of agreement, and one may say that concepts are comparable across individuals’ minds. In contrast to other approaches, our method considers that inter-individual variability in naturally occurring conceptual content exists and is a fact that must be taken into account, whereas other theories treat variability as error that should be cancelled out. Given that conceptual variability will exist, our approach may establish whether concepts are comparable across individuals’ minds more soundly than previous methods.

Journal

Quality & QuantitySpringer Journals

Published: May 5, 2015

References

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