Concept Types and Frames

in Language, Cognition, and Science


International Conference
Düsseldorf (GER),  August 20-22, 2007
Homepage: http://www.phil-fak.uni-duesseldorf.de/en/fff/ctf/organization/

The topic of the conference is the investigation of concept types (sortal, relational, individual and functional concepts) and their respective relationships to frames (recursive attribute-value structures). The interdisciplinary conference combines approaches from linguistics, computational linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, philosophy of science and the history of science.

Invited speakers: Lawrence W. Barsalou, Friedemann Pulvermueller, Peter Gaerdenfors, Barbara Partee, Xiang Chen, Nicola Guarino, William McGregor, Johanna Seibt, Peter Simons, Vladimir Borschev, Norbert Paul.


Deadline for submission of abstracts (max. 500 words): March 31st 2007.


The conference will be held in English.

Linguistic perspectives

Nouns in natural language can be related to different basic types of concepts. The basic types are sortal nouns (cow); individual nouns (e.g. proper names) and functional nouns (size) are marked as inherently unique; relational nouns (part) and functional nouns are marked by involving one or more additional arguments. The focus of the conference is on functional nouns.
Linguistically, functional nouns are linked to grammatical phenomena such as possessive constructions and definiteness. Cognitively, functional concepts enable the unique identification of referents, for example as unique parts of wholes, or as unique values of attributes. Therefore, functional nouns and concepts are of special importance in the advanced evolution of human language and scientific terminology. In fact, most lexicalised functional concepts are the products of complex linguistic developments.

Philosophical and cognitive perspectives

Frames, in Barsalou's sense, are recursive attribute-value structures. While frames can be used to implement individual and sortal concepts, their attributes can themselves be analysed as recursively interrelated functional concepts. Given that frames are the basic format of concept formation in cognition, attributes and frames might have neural correlates in our brain.
Frames are a natural linguistic and conceptual format for the representation of complex ontologies that embody substance-accidence and part-whole relations. Of particular interest is the relation of frames to complex representational formats such as conceptual spaces  and mental models.
Functional concepts and frames play a crucial role in the human evolution of a stable cognitive framework for communication and cooperation, in everyday life as well as in science. Insofar as the objects of a scientific disciplines are defined in terms of underlying frames, Kuhnian paradigm shifts are related to changes in the frames employed in science.

The conference invites contributions to the following topics:

  • Semantics and logics of concept types, in particular of functional, relational and individual nouns.
  • Typological characteristics of functional, relational and individual nouns, including the typology of possession and definiteness.
  • Historical development of functional and relational nouns and their grammatical integration.
  • Semantics, typology and evolution of stative dimensional verbs such as cost, weigh, mean.
  • Automatic classification of noun types in natural language corpora.
  • Frames as meaning representations in compositional and decompositional semantics.
  • The evolution of meaning and the role of functional concepts and frames therein.
  • The structure of scientific ontologies, especially in medicine and biology, and their relation to functional concepts and frames.
  • The development of central functional concepts such as "substance" in the history of metaphysics.
  • Functional concepts and frames in scientific theory and practice, from a historical perspective, in particular in the history of medical science.
  • The relation of changes of scientific frames to paradigm shifts.
  • Potential neural correlates and neural net models of functional concepts and frames.
  • Formalization and computational modeling of functional concepts and frames.