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Concepts & Categories

Concepts & Categories

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Kevin Mc Inerney. Originally submitted for History of Psychology & Conceptual Issues at None, with lecturer Mr. Brain Slattery (phd pending) in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Kevin Mc Inerney. Originally submitted for History of Psychology & Conceptual Issues at None, with lecturer Mr. Brain Slattery (phd pending) in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/25/2013

 
 
Biscuits!Cake?
PS317 History of Psychology & Current IssuesConcepts & Categories
 
08887055
 
4BA9
 
2,652 words
Ah....
Hmm.
 
Theories of Categorization 1
Initially an infant’s world is nothing more than a “blooming, buzzing, confusion” (Jame
s,1890, p.488), however, through our experiences we develop a sophisticated conceptualsystem that allows us to make sense of our world. Discuss this statement with reference to theliterature on concept acquisition and compare, contrast and critically evaluate the theories of concept development
 
Theories of Categorization 2
The study of categorization is fundamental to our understanding of how infantsdevelop the tools necessary for making sense of the world around them. William James oncedescribed the phenomenological world of an infant as a
“blooming, buzzing, confusion”
(James, 1890, p.488). Since then, empirical research has been exploring the different ways inwhich infants might emerge from this state of confusion into the relative lucidity of adolescence and beyond. Three schools of thought have been prominent in categorizationresearch: cognitive, developmental and the behaviour-analytical. Theories on categoryacquisition from within each school are compared, contrasted, and critiqued in the main bodyof the essay. Before we discuss the main theorie
s it’s important to ask what
should such atheory even explain? The generativity of language (see Chomsky, 1957) and our ability toconceptualize and categorize novel objects (see Griffe & Dougher, 2002) is a starting point.Theories which are parsimonious, amenable to observation, selectionist in nature [as opposedto essentialist] and which use operational units of behaviour will inevitably be favoured (seePalmer, 1992).The deeply philosophical nature of categorization cannot be ignored. One luminary of 
the field, Eleanor Rosch, writes that “experimental epistemology” would be a more suitable
description of the study of categorization due to its abstract nature and many competingtheories (Mervis & Rosch, 1981). For example, the argument has been made by linguistGeorge Lakoff that distinct categories are fictions (Lackoff, 1987) whereas others argue, asSkinner does, that even concepts
 – 
which are higher order categories- already exist in theworld before they are identified (1976). Such fundamental disagreements highlight theepistemic fragility inherent in categorization research. To further illustrate the types of problems which can arise when we look more closely at categorization, consider the casebrought before Mcvities in 1991 by the HM revenue & customs department. Under E.C.

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