Incomplete understanding of concepts and knowing in part what something is
Burge (1979) famously argued that one can have thoughts involving a concept C even if one’s understanding of C is incomplete. Even though this view has been extremely influential, it has also been taken by critics as less than clear. The aim of this paper is to show that the cases imagined by Burge (1979) as being ones in which incomplete understanding of concepts is involved can be made clearer given an account of direct concept ascriptions—such as “Peter has the concept of arthritis”—according to which these ascriptions are to be analysed in terms of ascriptions of the knowledge of what something is. The upshot is that the cases imagined by Burge (1979) can be explained is terms of the idea of subjects knowing in part what something is.
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