Discussion Questions: Week 5 (October 27)
1. Are there singular categories? (Red)
- Are concepts/categories necessarily defined in terms of their relation
to other concepts/categories, or is there such a thing as an isolated
(singular) category? If so, what would one look like?
- If concepts/categories are necessarily interrelated, how is it that they
provide the basis for judgments of difference as well as judgments of similarity?
That is, what is involved in making categorical distinctions if categories
themselves are all interrelated?
2. Stereotypes (Blue)
- Stereotypes are a particular class of categories that seem to
exist among every social group. Why? Is there a principled reason
for their emgergence? Can they be overcome?
- In particular, is it possible that stereotypes actually provide
an advantage to individuals and groups by making reasoning and decision
making faster and more efficient? If so, why are they typically viewed
in a negative light? What are the drawbacks of stereotypes?
3. Language and categorization (Green)
- Does language affect the creation and perception of categories?
(For example, does the word `jellyfish' induce English speakers to
categorize such organisms as fish when in fact they are not?)
- If so, what does this imply about the relation between the
development of language and the development of concepts and categories
in children? Is their ability to make categorical judgments dependent on
(or at least monotonically related to) their linguistic development?
- Finally, what would this imply about the status of concepts and
categories in creatures that don't have language (apes, other
intelligent animals, etc)?