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Prototypes

Definition

A prototype is the best or most central member of a category. An object can be described in terms of prototypicality, which refers to the degree to which it is a good example of a category. For example, baseball is a more prototypical sport than is billiards or bullfighting, and an automobile is a more prototypical vehicle than is a sled or skateboard.

Background

The idea that category members differ in how well they fit their category is an important component of what is known as the natural view of categories, which emerged in the 1950s with the publication of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Radically transforming how categories were understood, the natural view replaced the classical view, a perspective originating from Aristotle's thinking about categories that ...

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