David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Mind and Society 1 (1):3-24 (2000)
The mind-society problem deals with the relations between mental and social phenomena. The problem is crucial in the main methodologies of social sciences. The thesis of hermeneutics is that we can only understand but not explain the relationship between beliefs and social action because mental and social events are not natural events. The thesis of social holism is that social phenomena are emergent and irreducible to mental phenomena. The thesis of rational choice theory is that social phenomena are reducible to mental phenomena and this reduction is explained by unrealistic a priori principles of rationality. These theses depend on their different solutions to the following fundamental philosophical issues: the mind-body identity; the causal nature of social explanation; the realistic goal of science. A positive answer to these issues implies support of a different solution to the mind-society problem: social phenomena are conventional concepts and they can be reduced and explained in terms of realistic concepts describing the causal mechanisms of individual reasoning and decision-making. Cognitive psychology seems to supply us some initial tentative models to explain social action, but research into neuropsychology might be able to generate the proper causal representations of the relation between mind and action
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