The principle of conservatism in cognitive ethology

In D. Walsh (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press 225-238 (2001)
Philosophy of mind is, and for a long while has been, 99% metaphysics and 1% epistemology. Attention is lavished on the question of the nature of mind, but questions concerning how we know about minds are discussed much less thoroughly. University courses in philosophy of mind routinely devote a lot of time to dualism, logical behaviourism, the mind/brain identity theory, and functionalism. But what gets said about the kinds of evidence that help one determine what mental states, if any, an individual occupies? Well, Skinner's puritanical disdain for postulating mental states gets raked over the coals, the problem of other minds gets solved by a perfunctory invocation of the principle of inference to the best explanation, and the Turing test gets discussed, mainly in order to emphasize that it can lead to mistaken answers
Keywords Cognitive Science  Conservatism  Ethnology  Metaphysics  Mind
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100007189
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