Riin Koiv, "Is eliminating a concept more feasible than reforming the concept 
in the face of the attractor challenge?”
University of Sydney Philosophy Seminar Series
Philosophy Seminar Room, The University of Sydney, Wed. 2 Nov, 3:30–5

Simulcast via Zoom: 

Abstract: Some concepts are said to be “bad” in the sense that it would be 
better if we didn’t use these concepts. There are two ways to bring it about 
that a bad concept is not used anymore:

  1.  by reforming the concept so that some better version of the concept comes 
to be used.
  2.  by eliminating the concept so that no version of the concept is used.

Machery (2021) argues to have identified a novel reason why concept elimination 
is to be preferred to concept reformation if the relevant concept is of a 
certain kind, namely, an attractor. He argues that if a concept is an attractor 
then attempts to reform the concept are unlikely to succeed, therefore, 
elimination should be preferred. He presents his case on the example of the 
concept of innateness.

I argue that Machery has failed to support his thesis. I agree that a concept’s 
being an attractor is an obstacle to reforming the concept. However, I argue 
that Machery has failed to show that it is a lesser obstacle to eliminating the 
concept. Like Machery, I will make my case on the example of the concept of 
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