Agents can think using concepts they do not fully understand. This paper investigates the question “Under what conditions does a thinker fully understand, or have mastery of, a concept?” I lay out a gauntlet of problems and desiderata with which any theory of concept mastery must cope. I use these considerations to argue against three views of concept mastery, according to which mastery is a matter of holding certain beliefs, being disposed to make certain inferences, or having certain intuitions. None of these attitudes is either necessary or sufficient for mastery. I propose and respond to objections to my own recognition view of the conditions under which a thinker has mastery of a concept.
ASJC Scopus subject areas