Out of Sorts? Some Remedies for Theories of Object Concepts: A Reply to Rhemtulla and Xu (2007)

Sergey V. Blok, George E. Newman, Lance J. Rips*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Concepts of individual objects (e.g., a favorite chair or pet) include knowledge that allows people to identify these objects, sometimes after long stretches of time. In an earlier article, the authors set out experimental findings and mathematical modeling to support the view that judgments of identity depend on people's beliefs about the causal connections that unite an object's earlier and later stages. This article examines M. Rhemtulla and F. Xu's (2007) critique of the causal theory. The authors argue that M. Rhemtulla and F. Xu's alternative sortal proposal is not a necessary part of identity judgments, is internally inconsistent, leads to conflicts with current theories of categories, and encounters problems explaining empirical dissociations. Previous evidence also suggests that causal factors dominate spatiotemporal continuity and perceptual similarity in direct tests. The authors conclude that the causal theory provides the only existing account consistent with current evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1096-1102
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • causation
  • concepts
  • object concepts
  • sortals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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