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Perceptual Symbols and Taxonomy Comparison

Xiang Chen
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 68, No. 3, Supplement: Proceedings of the 2000 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association. Part I: Contributed Papers (Sep., 2001), pp. S200-S212
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3080946
Page Count: 13
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Perceptual Symbols and Taxonomy Comparison
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Abstract

Many recent cognitive studies reveal that human cognition is inherently perceptual, sharing systems with perception at both the conceptual and the neural levels. This paper introduces Barsalou's theory of perceptual symbols and explores its implications for philosophy of science. If perceptual symbols lie in the heart of conceptual processing, the process of attribute selection during concept representation, which is critical for defining similarity and thus for comparing taxonomies, can no longer be determined solely by background beliefs. The analogous nature of perceptual symbols and the spatial nature of intraconceptual relations impose new constraints on attribute selection. These constraints help people with different background beliefs select compatible attributes, which constitute a common "platform" for taxonomy comparison.

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