Contemporary reactions to Descartes' philosophy of mind
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Overview It is widely assumed that Descartes’ philosophy of mind is organized around three major commitments. The first is to substance dualism. The second is to individualism about mental content. The third is to a particularly strong form of the doctrine of privileged firstperson access. Each of these commitments has been questioned by contemporary philosophers of mind. Substance dualism is generally regarded as a non-starter, individualism has come under attack from a number of different quarters, and the doctrine of privileged access has been watered down or rejected. Yet, at least as far as questions about mental content and privileged access are concerned, contemporary discussions still address what they represent as Descartes’ views. More often than not crude parodies of these views end up as the focus of discussion but more careful critics are usually prepared to recognize that Descartes’ philosophy of mind is more subtle and nuanced than the parodies might lead one to suppose.
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