Discussion Questions

  1. Pick a couple of familiar categories and try to come up with definitions for them. When you evaluate each proposal (a) is it in fact accurate as a definition, and (b) is it a definition that people might actually use in identifying category members?
  2. For the same categories, can you identify members that seem to be “better” and “worse” members? What about these items makes them typical and atypical?
  3. Going around the room, point to some common objects (including things people are wearing or brought with them) and identify what the basic-level category is for that item. What are superordinate and subordinate categories for the same items?
  4. List some features of a common category such as tables. The knowledge view suggests that you know reasons for why these particular features occur together. Can you articulate some of those reasons? Do the same thing for an animal category.
  5. Choose three common categories: a natural kind, a human artifact, and a social event. Discuss with class members from other countries or cultures whether the corresponding categories in their cultures differ. Can you make a hypothesis about when such categories are likely to differ and when they are not?


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Discussion Questions by Philip Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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