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Hardcover | Out of Print | 286 pp. | 6 x 9 in | October 1992 | ISBN: 9780262161336
Paperback | $32.00 X | £26.95 | 286 pp. | 6 x 9 in | September 1995 | ISBN: 9780262660976
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A Study of Concepts


Philosophers from Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein to the recent realists and antirealists have sought to answer the question, What are concepts? This book provides a detailed, systematic, and accessible introduction to an original philosophical theory of concepts that Christopher Peacocke has developed in recent years to explain facts about the nature of thought, including its systematic character, its relations to truth and reference, and its normative dimension.

Particular concepts are also treated within the general framework: perceptual concepts, logical concepts, and the concept of belief are discussed in detail. The general theory is further applied in answering the question of how the ontology of concepts can be of use in classifying mental states, and in discussing the proper relation between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts. Finally, the theory of concepts is used to motivate a nonverificationist theory of the limits of intelligible thought.

Peacocke treats content as broad rather than narrow, and his account is nonreductive and non-Quinean. Yet Peacocke also argues for an interactive relationship between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, and he plots many connections with work in cognitive psychology.

About the Author

Christopher Peacocke is Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.


“Christopher Peacocke's rich, densely argued book is a frontal assault on the task of constructing a theory of concepts. Its argument is a model of rigor: each move is precisely flagged, each claim distinctly articulated.... It is a mark of the best work in philosophy that it deals with deep and central concerns while at the same time reaching beyond itself to fructify debate elsewhere. Peacocke's stimulating book does both these things, and in ways that no future account of its subject matter can ignore.”
A. C. Grayling, Times Higher Education Supplement