The Myth of the Final Criterion

Abstract: Theories of psychological categories have all conformed to the thesis that for every psychological category, there is a final criterion that is the ultimate arbiter of category membership. This final criterion not only determines a category's boundaries but also key aspects of its cognitive significance. I propose that the thesis is false: there are no final criteria. I then explore what a theory of concepts might look like in the absence of final criteria. My chief aim is consciousness-raising: rather than presenting arguments against the thesis of the final criterion, I seek to show that some very interesting psychological possibilities lie outside its purview; we should not limit ourselves to theories of concepts that are built according to the criterion.

See the text of a talk outlining the main arguments of The Myth of the Final Criterion.

See some supplementary notes on concept acquisistion.