The Neutral Theory of Conceptual Complexity

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Submission Summary
Philosophical studies of complex scientific concepts are predominantly “adaptationist”, arguing that conceptual complexity serves important purposes. This is a historical artifact. Having had to defend their views against a monist presumption favoring simpler concepts, pluralists and patchwork theorists felt compelled to show that complexity can be beneficial. This has led to the neglect of an alternative possibility: that conceptual complexity is largely neutral, persisting simply because it does little harm. This paper defends the neutral theory of conceptual complexity in two ways: (a) as a plausible theory in its own right, and (b) as a useful foil for adaptationist arguments.
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University of Washington

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