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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dwayne Pare

PSYB57Chapter 8 Concepts and Generic KnowledgeDefinitions What Is a DogThere are dictionary definitions for some words for example dog o A dog is a mammal has four legs barks and wags its tailIn order to define commonplace concepts Ludwig Wittgenstein argues that the simple terms we use every day actually dont have definitions o How would one define a game o A game is defined as an activity that has certain rules is practiced by children is engaged in for fun involves multiple players is in some ways competitive and played during periods of leisure o This definition cannot be applied to the Olympic games even though they are still considered a game or gambling or even professional golfersFor each clause of the definition we can easily find an exceptionEven simple terms terms denoting concepts we use easily and often resist being defined we can come up with what seems to be a plausible definition but then its easy to find exceptions to itFamily ResemblanceIt is better to say that dogs usually are creatures that have fur four legs and bark and a creature without these features is unlikely to be a dogthis probabilistic phrasing preserves whatd good about definitions and allows degree of uncertaintyWittgenstein proposed that members of a category have a family resemblance to each otherThere are common features but the identity of those common features depends on what subgroup of the family you are considering ex Hair color shared by family eye color shared by familyEach member of the family has some features in common with an ideal and therefore some features in common with other family members and that is why family members resemble each other ideal is someone who has all the family features not all families have this personJust as the example with the dog and game there may be no features that are shared by all dogs or games just as there are no features shared by everyone in a familyWe can identify characteristic features for each category which many of the family members have and the more of these features an object has the more likely you are to believe it is in the categoryFAMILY RESEMBALECE IS A MATTER OF DEGREE NOT ALLORNONEPrototypes and Typicality EffectsDefinitions set boundaries for a categoryThe prototype theory the best way to identify a category and to categorize a concept is ot specify the center of the category rather than make boundaries o Ex The concept of dog is represented in the mind by some depiction of the ideal dog and all judgments about dogs are made with reference to this idealA prototype literally represents the ideal for the categoryIt will be an average of the various category memberso Ex The prototype dog will be the average color of the dogs you have seen and the average size etcDifferent people may have different prototypes If a prototype reflects the ideal for a category people may disagree about what the ideal would be and that is why we need some flexibility in how we characterize prototypes A PROTOTYPE WILL SERVE AS THE ANCHOR BENCHMARK FOR OUT CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE AND WHEN WE USE THAT CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE THE REASONING IS DONE WITH REFERENCE TO THE PROTOTYPE
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