The Myth of Depth

Abstract: By a deep theory of concepts, I mean a theory according to which a concept's possessor represents the grounds of membership in the corresponding category, that is, the properties in virtue of which entities qualify for membership of the category. This paper has three aims. The first is to show that there is an interesting psychological distinction to be made between deep and shallow approaches to concepts. The second is to show that past theories of concepts have tended, on the whole, to take the deep approach. The third is to show that there is very little evidence that concepts are in fact deep, and so that it is worth exploring shallow alternatives to the existing deep theories.

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