Is folk psychology different?

Erkenntnis 57 (2):199-230 (2002)
Abstract
In this paper, I seek to refute arguments for the idea that folk psychological explanation, i.e., the explanation of actions, beliefs and desires in terms of one another, should be understood as being of a different character than ordinary scientific explanations, a view defended most prominently in analytical philosophy by Donald Davidson and John McDowell. My strategy involves arguing both against the extant arguments for the idea that FP must be construed as giving such explanations, and also against the very notion of such a different kind of explanation. I argue first that the in some sense a priori and conceptual nature of folk psychological principles does not support the idea that these are other than empirical generalisations, by appeal to recent nativist ideas in cognitive science and to Lewis's conception of the meaning of theoretical terms. Second, I argue that there is no coherent sense in which folk psychological explanations can be seen as normative. Thirdly, I examine the putatively holistic character of the mental and conclude that that too fails to provide any cogent reasons for viewing folk psychological explanations as different from other kinds of explanation.
Keywords Explanation  Folk Psychology  Holism  Metaphysics  Normative  Davidson, D  Mcdowell, J
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