A Qualitative Approach to Conceptual Spaces: Prototypes as Qualitative Atoms


The aim of this paper is to propose a qualitative approach to the theory of conceptual spaces, in contrast to the usual metric framework. This requires qualitative notions of similarity, simple concepts, prototypes and conceptual categorisation. For this purpose, I will introduce three mathematical models for conceptual spaces. The first one is topological and has been proposed by Mormann. The other two are new and are based on atomistic orders and similarity relations. I will discuss how each of them deals with the Design Principles proposed by Douven and Gärdenfors and with further Adequacy Conditions. Despite being apparently different, I will show that these three models are mathematically equivalent. Finally, I will address three objections to the present approach. The first one says that the qualitative notion of a prototype is a bad analogue of the metric one. The second one suggests that, in contrast to the Voronoi construction, the function qualitatively representing the conceptual categorisation process is arbitrary. The last one appeals to Goodman’s companionship and imperfect community problems to show that there is a flaw in defining simple concepts from similarity relations.

April 8, 2022 at 09:23PM

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