Wittgenstein and the representation of psychological categories

Michael Ramscar
Department of Artificial Intelligence
University of Edinburgh

Abstract Axiomatic to received psychological theories of categories and categorisation is the notion that Wittgenstein demonstrated in the "Philosophical Investigations" that categories are not defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, but are instead determined by `family resemblances'. In this paper, I present a new exegesis of Wittgenstein's account of categorisation, and claim that far from advocating a theory of `family resemblances' for categories, Wittgenstein rejected the notion as an empty one, as indeed he rejected the theoretical utility of determinate psychological accounts of linguistic categories.