It is widely believed that the primary function of folk psychology lies in the prediction, explanation and control of behavior. A question arises, however, as to whether folk psychology has also been shaped in fundamental ways by the various other roles it plays in people’s lives. Here I approach that question by considering one particular aspect of folk psychology – the distinction between intentional and unintentional behaviors. The aim is to determine whether this distinction is best understood (...) as a tool used in prediction, explanation and control or whether it has been shaped in fundamental ways by some other aspect of its use. (shrink)
When do the folk think that mereological composition occurs? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view of composition that fits with folk intuitions, and yet there has been little agreement about what the folk intuit. We aim to put the tools of experimental philosophy to constructive use. Our studies suggest that folk mereology is teleological: people tend to intuit that composition occurs when the result serves a purpose. We thus conclude that metaphysicians should dismiss folk intuitions, (...) as tied into a benighted teleological view of nature. (shrink)
Philosophers working in the nascent field of ‘experimental philosophy’ have begun using methods borrowed from psychology to collect data about folk intuitions concerning debates ranging from action theory to ethics to epistemology. In this paper we present the results of our attempts to apply this approach to the free will debate, in which philosophers on opposing sides claim that their view best accounts for and accords with folk intuitions. After discussing the motivation for such research, we describe our (...) methodology of surveying people’s prephilosophical judgments about the freedom and responsibility of agents in deterministic scenarios. In two studies, we found that a majority of participants judged that such agents act of their own free will and are morally responsible for their actions. We then discuss the philosophical implications of our results as well as various difficulties inherent in such research. (shrink)
Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not _evaluative _considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by the (...) hypothesis that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.<b> </b>. (shrink)
The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any (...) particular conscious or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
I argue that everyday folk-psychological skill might best be explained in terms of the deployment of something like a model, in a specific sense drawn from recent philosophy of science. Theoretical models in this sense do not make definite commitments about the systems they are used to understand; they are employed with a particular kind of flexibility. This analysis is used to dissolve the eliminativism debate of the 1980s, and to transform a number of other questions about the status (...) and role of folk psychology. (shrink)
I take up the task of examining how someone who takes seriously the ambitious programme of conceptual analysis advocated by the Canberra School can minimise the eliminative consequences which I argue the Ramsey-Carnap-Lewis recipe of conceptual analysis is likely to have for many folk discourses. The objective is to find a stable means to preserve the constative appearance of folk discourse and to find it generally successful in its attempts to describe an external world, albeit in non-scientific terms (...) that do not reflect the nature of things. The view I settle on, quasi-fictionalism, is modelled on a modified descriptivist version of Kendall Walton’s account of prop-oriented games of make-believe. (shrink)
This paper is about the contemporary debate concerning folk psychology – the debate between the proponents of the theory theory of folk psychology and the friends of the simulation alternative.1 At the outset, we need to ask: What should we mean by this term ‘folk psychology’?
This paper disputes the claim that our understanding of others is enabled by a commonsense or ‘folk’ psychology, whose ‘core’ involves the attribution of intentional states in order to predict and explain behaviour. I argue that interpersonal understanding is seldom, if ever, a matter of two people assigning intentional states to each other but emerges out of a context of interaction between them. Self and other form a coupled system rather than two wholly separate entities equipped with an internalised (...) capacity to assign mental states to the other. This applies even in those instances where one might seem to adopt a ‘detached’ perspective towards others. Thus ‘folk psychology’, as commonly construed, is not folk psychology. (shrink)
There has been a long-standing interest in the putative roles that various so-called ‘theory of mind’ abilities might play in enabling us to understand and enjoy narratives. Of late, as our understanding of the complexity and diversity of everyday psychological capacities has become more nuanced and variegated, new possibilities have been articulated: (i) that our capacity for a sophisticated, everyday understanding of actions in terms of reason (our folk psychology) may itself be best characterized as a kind of narrative (...) practice and (ii) that acquiring the capacity for supplying and digesting reasons explana- tions might (at least normally) depend upon having a special training with narratives. This introductory paper to the volume situates the claims of those who support the narrative approach to folk psychology against the backdrop of some traditional and new thinking about intersubjectivity, social cognition and ‘theory of mind’ abilities. Special emphasis is laid on the different reasons for being interested in these claims about narrative practice and folk psychology in light of various empirical and philosophical agendas. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the success of the connectionist program in cognitive science would threaten folk psychology. I articulate and defend a "minimalist" construal of folk psychology that comports well with empirical evidence on the folk understanding of belief and is compatible with even the most radical developments in cognitive science.
Lisa Bortolotti argues convincingly that opponents of the doxastic view of delusion are committed to unnecessarily stringent standards for belief attribution. Folk psychology recognises many non-rational ways in which beliefs can be caused, and our attributions of delusions may be guided by a sense that delusions are beliefs that we cannot explain in any folk psychological terms.
In this paper it is argued that we would not be logically obliged or rationally inclined to reject the ontology of contentful psychological states postulated by folk psychology even if the explanations advanced by folk psychology turned out to be generally inaccurate or inadequate. Moreover, it is argued that eliminativists such as Paul Churchland do not establish that folk psychological explanations are, or are likely to prove, generally inaccurate or inadequate. Most of Churchland's arguments—based upon developments within (...) connectionist neuroscience—only cast doubt upon the adequacy of 'sentential' theories of cognitive processing, not upon scientifically developed forms of folk psychological explanation of behavior, such as those offered by contemporary social psychology. Finally, it is noted that Churchland's brand of eliminativism rests upon a crude reductive criterion of theoretical adequacy that has little to recommend it, and suggested that the recognized theoretical limitations of contemporary social psychology may be precisely due to its historical commitment to this reductive criterion. (shrink)
Kristin Andrews proposes a new framework for thinking about folk psychology, which she calls Pluralistic Folk Psychology. Her approach emphasizes kinds of psychological prediction and explanation that don't rest on propositional attitude attribution. Here I review some elements of her theory and find that, although the approach is very promising, there's still work to be done before we can conclude that the manners of prediction and explanation she identifies don't involve implicit propositional attitude attribution.
It is often assumed that cognitive science is built upon folk psychology, and that challenges to folk psychology are therefore challenges to cognitive science itself. We argue that, in practice, cognitive science and folk psychology treat entirely non-overlapping domains: cognitive science considers aspects of mental life which do not depend on general knowledge, whereas folk psychology considers aspects of mental life which do depend on general knowledge. We back up our argument on theoretical grounds, and also (...) illustrate the separation between cognitive scientific and folk psychological phenomena in a number of cognitive domains. We consider the methodological and theoretical significance of our arguments for cognitive science research. (shrink)
This article describes two uses of folk psychology in scientific psychology. Use 1 deals with the way in which folk theories and beliefs are imported into social psychological models on the basis that they exert causal influences on cognition or behavior (regardless of their validity or scientific usefulness). Use 2 describes the practice of mining elements from folk psychology for building an overarching psychological theory that goes beyond common sense (and assumes such elements are valid or scientifically (...) useful). This distinction is then applied to both common practices within psychology and the philosophical arguments concerning the scientific validity of folk psychology. Adopting a social psychological perspective, I argue that (a) the two uses are often conflated in psychology with deleterious consequences; and (b) that the arguments for the elimination of folk psychology as a basis for scientific psychology presented by Churchland and others, are weakened by the failure to attend to this distinction. (shrink)
Stich and Ravenscroft (1994) distinguish between internal and external accounts of folk psychology and argue that this distinction makes a significant difference to the debate over eliminative materialism. I argue that their views about the implications of the internal/external distinction for the debate over eliminativism are mistaken. First, I demonstrate that the first of their two external versions of folk psychology is either not a possible target of eliminativist critique, or not a target distinct from their second version (...) of externalism. Second, I show that whether or not the second of their two external version of folk psychology is open to eliminativist critique depends on ‘internal’ factors. Finally, I argue that they are wrong to claim that eliminativists might, by attacking external versions of folk psychology, escape being put out of business if the simulation theory is correct. (shrink)
Abstract Ramsey, Stick and Garon (1991) argue that if the correct theory of mind is some parallel distributed processing theory, then folk psychology must be false. Their idea is that if the nodes and connections that encode one representation are causally active then all representations encoded by the same set of nodes and connections are also causally active. We present a clear, and concrete, counterexample to RSG's argument. In conclusion, we suggest that folk psychology and connectionism are best (...) understood as complementary theories. Each has different limitations, yet each will co?evolve with the other in an overlapping domain of ?normal? psychology. (shrink)
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folk psychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folk psychology.
In this paper, I distinguish between two error theories of morality: one couched in terms of truth (ET1); the other in terms of justification (ET2). I then present two arguments: the Poisoned Presupposition Argument for ET1; and the Evolutionary Debunking Argument for ET2. I go on to show how assessing these arguments requires paying attention to empirical moral psychology, in particular, work on folk metaethics. After criticizing extant work, I suggest avenues for future research.
Daniel Dennett (1991) has advanced a mild realism in which beliefs are described as patterns “discernible in agents' (observable) behavior” (p. 30). I clarify the conflict between this otherwise attractive theory and the strong realist view that beliefs are internal states that cause actions. Support for strong realism is sometimes derived from the assumption that the everyday psychology of the folk is committed to it. My main thesis here is that we have sufficient reason neither for strong realism nor (...) for the supporting assumption about the commitments of folk psychology. Several generally implicit arguments in support of the latter assumption are considered. Explicit arguments for it by Ramsey et al. (1990) and Wellman (1990) are examined and judged unsuccessful. An explicit argument for strong realism by Cummins (in conversation) is also found inadequate. Consideration of this latter argument helps to explain why we cannot be satisfied with Dennett's own very brief discussion of causation by beliefs. (shrink)
It has often been argued, by philosophers and more recently by developmental psychologists, that our common-sense conception of the mind should be regarded as a scientific theory. However, those who advance this view rarely say much about what they take a scientific theory to be. In this paper, I look at one specific proposal as to how we should interpret the theory view of folk psychology--namely, by seeing it as having a structure analogous to that of a Lakatosian research (...) program. I argue that although the Lakatosian model may seem promising--particularly to those who are interested in studying the development of children's understanding of the mind--the analogy between Lakatosian research programs and folk psychology cannot be made good because folk psychology does not possess anything analogous to the positive heuristic of a Lakatosian research program. I also argue that Lakatos' account of theories may not be the best one for developmental psychologists to adopt because of the emphasis which Lakatos places on the social embeddedness of scientific theorising. (shrink)
In this paper, I address Mitchell Herschbach’s arguments against the phenomenological critics of folk psychology. Central to Herschbach’s arguments is the introduction of Michael Wheeler’s distinction between ‘on-line’ and ‘off-line’ intelligence to the debate on social understanding. Herschbach uses this distinction to describe two arguments made by the phenomenological critics. The first is that folk psychology is exclusively off-line and mentalistic. The second is that social understanding is on-line and non-mentalistic. To counter the phenomenological critics, Herschbach argues for (...) the existence of on-line false belief understanding. This demonstrates that folk psychology is not restricted to off-line forms and that folk psychology is more widespread than the phenomenological critics acknowledge. In response, I argue the on-line/off-line distinction is a problematic way of demarcating the phenomenological critics from orthodox accounts of folk psychology. (shrink)
This paper develops an instrumentalistic argumentagainst an eliminativist approach to using the folkconcept of pain in clinical medicine and draws someimplications for biomedical theories of pain. Thepaper argues that the folk concept of pain plays afundamental role in several aspects of clinicalmedicine, including the diagnosis and treatment ofdiseases and symptoms, relieving human suffering, andthe doctor-patient relationship. Since clinicians mustbe able to apply biomedical theories of pain inmedical practice, these theories should not stray toofar from pain's clinical realities. Biomedicaltheories of (...) pain should at least incorporate an analogof the folk concept of pain, even if this concept isrevised in light of scientific advances. (shrink)
My commentary on Hurley is concerned with foundational issues. Hurley's investigation of animal cognition is cast within a particular framework—basically, a philosophically refined version of folk psychology. Her discussion has a complicated relationship to unresolved debates about the nature and status of folk psychology, especially debates about the extent to which folk psychological categories are aimed at picking out features of the causal organization of the mind.
Some eliminativists have predicted that a developed neuroscience will eradicate the principles and theoretical kinds (belief, desire, etc.) implicit in our ordinary practices of mental state attribution. Prevailing defenses of common-sense psychology infer its basic integrity from its familiarity and instrumental success in everyday social commerce. Such common-sense defenses charge that eliminativist arguments are self-defeating in their folk psychological appeal to the belief that eliminativism is true. I argue that eliminativism is untouched by this simple charge of inconsistency, and (...) introduce a different dialectical strategy for arguing against the eliminativist. In keeping with the naturalistic trend in the sociology and philosophy of science, I show that neuroscientists routinely rely on folk psychological procedures of intentional state attribution in applying epistemically reliable standards of scientific evaluation. These scientific contexts place ordinary procedures of attribution under greater stress, producing evidence of folk psychological success that is less equivocal than the evidence in mundane settings. Therefore, the dependence of science on folk psychology, when combined with an independently plausible explanatory constraint on reduction and an independently motivated notion of theoretical stress, allows us to reconstitute the charge of (neurophilic) eliminativist inconsistency in a more sophisticated form. (shrink)
This paper promotes the view that our childhood engagement with narratives of a certain kind is the basis of sophisticated folk psychological abilities —i.e. it is through such socially scaffolded means that folk psychological skills are normally acquired and fostered. Undeniably, we often use our folk psychological apparatus in speculating about why another may have acted on a particular occasion, but this is at best a peripheral and parasitic use. Our primary understanding and skill in folk (...) psychology derives from and has its primary application in special kinds of second-personal engagements. (shrink)
One of the central explananda in the debate on social cognition is the interpretation of other people in terms of reasons for action. There is a growing dissatisfaction among participants in the debate concerning the descriptive adequacy of the traditional belief-desire model of action interpretation. Applying this model as an explanatory model at the subpersonal level threatens to leave the original explanandum largely unarticulated. Against this background we show how Brandom’s deontic scorekeeping model can be used as a valuable descriptive (...) tool for making folk psychology explicit. Following Brandom’s non-formalist and non-mentalistic account of reason discourse, we suggest that the process of making sense of others is best captured as proceeding from a ‘factive’ baseline. According to this picture the ascription of beliefs and desires is not the default interpretation strategy, but rather the result of prior scaffolding of the agent’s deontic score. We close by discussing Brandom’s model in the light of empirical findings on the ontogeny of reason attribution. (shrink)
Simulation as an epistemic tool between theory and practice: A Comparison of the Relationship between Theory and Simulation in Science and in Folk Psychology In this paper I explore the concept of simulation that is employed by proponents of the so-called simulation theory within the debate about the nature and scientific status of folk psychology. According to simulation theory, folk psychology is not a sort of theory that postulates theoretical entities (mental states and processes) and general laws, (...) but a practice whereby we put ourselves into others’ shoes and simulate their situation from our own perspective. On the basis of this sort of simulation, we supposedly know how we would act or think or feel, and then expect the same of others. A closer look at the concept of simulation reveals some problems with this view, but also helps to clarify the insight motivating simulation theory. Specifically, I defend the thesis that the analogy to simulations in science shows us how theoretical elements in folk psychology can be complemented by (i.e. not replaced by) the central idea of simulation theory – namely that our own cognitive habits and dispositions provide us with a resource that is distinct from propositional knowledge in folk psychology. I also discuss the idea that our use of simulations during cognitive development enables us to imitate the people around us and thereby to become more similar to them, which in turn makes simulation an increasingly effective epistemic strategy. Insofar as theoretical elements – such as the distinctions, relations, and entities referred to in folk psychological discourse – play a role in imitative learning, they are causally embedded in our cognitive development, so we have good reason to regard them as being among the real causes of our behavior. (shrink)
If folk science means individuals having well worked out mechanistic theories of the workings of the world, then it is not feasible. Laypeople’s explanatory understandings are remarkably coarse, full of gaps, and often full of inconsistencies. Even worse, most people overestimate their own understandings. Yet recent views suggest that formal scientists may not be so different. In spite of these limitations, science somehow works and its success offers hope for the feasibility of folk science as well. The success (...) of science arises from the ways in which scientists learn to leverage understandings in other minds and to outsource explanatory work through sophisticated methods of deference and simplification of complex systems. Three studies ask whether analogous processes might be present not only in laypeople but also in young children and thereby form a foundation for supplementing explanatory understandings almost from the start of our first attempts to make sense of the world. (shrink)
There is a long-standing debate in the philosophy of action and the philosophy of science over folk psychological explanations of human action: do the (perhaps implicit) generalizations that underwrite such explanations purport to state contingent, empirically established connections between beliefs, desires, and actions, or do such generalizations serve rather to define, at least in part, what it is to have a belief or desire, or perform an action? This question has proven important because of certain traditional assumptions made about (...) the role of law-statements in scientific explanations. According to this tradition, law-statements take the form of generalizations, and the laws we find in well-established sciences are contingent and empirical; as such, if the kinds of generalizations at work in folk psychological explanations of human action act like definitions, or state conceptual connections, then such generalizations could not play the kind of explanatory role we find in mature sciences. This paper argues that the aforementioned way of framing the debate reflects a still powerful but impoverished conception of the role laws play in scientific explanations, a conception that, moreover, cannot be reconciled with a good deal of actual scientific practice. When we update the philosophy of science, we find the concerns that are raised for folk psychological explanations largely evaporate or are found not to be specific to such explanations. (shrink)
Pickering and Chater (P&C) maintain that folk psychology and cognitive science should neither compete nor cooperate. Each is an independent enterprise, with a distinct subject matter and characteristic modes of explanation. P&C''s case depends upon their characterizations of cognitive science and folk psychology. We question the basis for their characterizations, challenge both the coherence and the individual adequacy of their contrasts between the two, and show that they waver in their views about the scope of each. We conclude (...) that P&C do not so muchdiscover ascreate the gap they find between folk psychology and cognitive science. It is an artifact of their implausible and unmotivated attempt to demarcate the two areas, and of the excessively narrow accounts they give of each. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the analogical argument that the use that is made of propositions in folk psychology in the characterisation of propositional attitudes is no more puzzling than the use that is made of numbers in the physical sciences in the measurement of physical properties. It has been argued that the result of this analogy is that there is no need to postulate the existence of sentences in a language of thought which underpin the propositional characterisation of (...) propositional attitudes in order to provide a naturalistic account of their use. I argue that a closer examination of the analogy implies rather than avoids the existence of structured representations constituting a language of thought, and thus that it should be abandoned by those who wish to avoid the postulation of such internal representations. (shrink)
Pain is not a primitive sensory event but rather a complexperception and a process by which a person interacts with theinternal and external environments, constructs meaning, andengages in action. Because folk beliefs are central to meaning,folk concepts of pain play multiple causal roles in a painpatient's interaction with health care providers and others.In every case, the notion of pain is linked to a goal-directedbehavior that is useful to the person. The wide variation inconcepts of pain across individuals suffering (...) with painunderscores the richness and complexity of the pain experience.In some cases involving chronic pain, the patient may form amaladaptive cluster of behaviors around the concept of pain.Patient beliefs and expectations are an important part of manychronic pain syndromes, and patients can benefit fromintervention directed at revising the individual's folk model of pain. Memetics offers a framework for identifying the memesthat patients hold and determining whether patient memes fitor clash with provider memes. (shrink)
This paper discusses some requirements on a folk-psychological, computational account of concepts. Although most psychological views take the folk-psychological stance that concept-possession requires capacities of both representation and classification, such views lack a philosophical context. In contrast, philosophically motivated views stress one of these capacities at the expense of the other. This paper seeks to provide some philosophical motivation for the (folk-) psychological stance. Philosophical and psychological constraints on a computational level account provide the context for evaluating (...) two theses. The first, the Classificatory View, is that concept-possession is constituted by the ability to classify states of the world. I argue, against this view, that to be able to classify, a thinker must also be able to represent the world. The second thesis, the Representational View, is that to possess a concept is constituted by the ability to represent the world. I argue that ascribing this ability is incoherent without ascribing an ability to classify. Hence, a detailed computational specification of concept-possession suggests that the folk-psychological stance is accurate. Philosophical views of concepts, (e.g. Fodor, 1987), adhering to one of the strong theses, whilst adverting to folk-psychological motivations, are thus both insufficiently complex and incoherent. (shrink)
The fact that infinitely repeated games have many different equilibrium outcomes is known as the Folk Theorem. Previous versions of the Folk Theorem have characterized only the payoffs of the game. This paper shows that over a finite portion of an infinitely repeated game, the concept of perfect equilibrium imposes virtually no restrictions on observable behavior. The Prisoner's Dilemma is presented as an example and discussed in detail.
Even as the neuro-psychoanalytic field has matured, the epistemological status of Freudian interpretations still remains problematic. As a result of the resurgence of hermeneutics, the claim has been made that psychoanalysis is an extension of folk psychology. For these “extensionists”, asking psychoanalysis to prove its interpretations would be as absurd as demanding the proofs of the scientific accuracy of folk psychology. I propose to show how Dennett’s theory of the intentional stance allows us to defend an extensionist position (...) while sparing us certain hermeneutic difficulties. In conclusion, I will consider how Shevrin experiments could turn extensionist conceptual considerations into experimentally testable issues. (shrink)
Folk experiments in agriculture are often inspired by new ideas blended with old ones, motivated by economic and environmental change. They tend to save labor or capital. These notions are illustrated with nine short case studies from Nicaragua and El Salvador. The new ideas that catalyze folk experiments may be provided by development agencies, but paradoxically, the folk experiments are so common that the agencies that inspire them usually pay little attention to them. Some folk experiments (...) are original, but others simply copy innovations that farmers have seen somewhere else. Unlike formal scientific research, in which results are consistently written, folk experiments are rarely “inscribed,” because the results are for use by individual farmers and need not be shared with an audience. (shrink)
I discuss experimental work by Nichols, and Nichols and Knobe, with respect to the philosophical problems of free will and moral responsibility. I mention some methodological concerns about the work, but focus principally on the philosophical implications of the work. The experimental results seem to show that in particular, concrete cases we are more willing to attribute responsibility than in cases described abstractly or in general terms. I argue that their results suggest a deep problem for traditional accounts of compatibilism, (...) and that they may cast some light on the literature surrounding Frankfurt cases. I also suggest a way in which mature philosophical convictions about free will may reflect a contingent process of refining and defending either of two competing strands of intuitions, and suggest that this may partly explain the persistence of philosophical debates about free will. (shrink)
Let us begin with what all of us here agree on: folk psychology is not immune to revision. It has a certain vulnerability in principle. Any particular part of it might be overthrown and replaced by some other doctrine. Yet we disagree about how likely it is that that vulnerability in principle will turn into the actual demise of large portions--or all--of folk psychology. I am of the view that folk psychology is here for the long haul, (...) and for some very good reasons. But I am not going to concentrate on that in my remarks. What nobody has bothered saying here yet, but is probably worth saying, is that for all of its blemishes, warts and perplexities, folk psychology is an extraordinarily powerful source of prediction. It is not just prodigiously powerful but remarkably easy for human beings to use. We are virtuoso exploiters of not so much a theory as a craft. That is, we might better call it a folk craft rather than a folk theory. The theory of folk psychology is the ideology about the craft, and there is lots of room, as anthropologists will remind us, for false ideology. (shrink)
Prominent accounts of language use (those of Grice, Lewis, Stalnaker, Sperber and Wilson among others) have viewed basic communicative acts as essentially involving the attitudes of the participating agents. Developmental data poses a dilemma for these accounts, since it suggests children below age four are competent communicators but would lack the ability to conceptualise communication if philosophers and linguists are right about what communication is. This paper argues that this dilemma is quite serious and that these prominent accounts would be (...) undermined if an adequate more minimal alternative were available. Just such a minimalist account of communication is offered, drawing on ideas from relevance theory and situation theory. (shrink)
There are legitimate worries about gaps between scientific evidence of brain states and function (for example, as evidenced by fMRI data) and legal criteria for determining criminal culpability. In this paper I argue that behavioral evidence of capacity, motive and intent appears easier for judges and juries to use for purposes of determining criminal liability because such evidence triggers the application of commonsense psychological (CSP) concepts that guide and structure criminal responsibility. In contrast, scientific evidence of neurological processes and function (...) – such as evidence that the defendant has a large brain tumor – will not generally lead a judge or jury to directly infer anything that is relevant to the legal determination of criminal culpability . (Vincent 2008) In these cases, an expert witness will be required to indicate to the fact-finder what this evidence means with regard to mental capacity; and then another inference will have to be made from this possible lack of capacity to the legal criteria for guilt, cast in CSP terms.<br><br>To reliably link evidence of brain function and structure and assessment of criminal responsibility, we need to re-conceptualize the mental capacities necessary for responsibility, particularly those that are recognized as missing or compromised by the doctrines of “legal capacity” (Hart 1968) and “diminished capacity.” I argue that formulating these capacities as executive functions within the brain can provide this link. I further claim that it would be extremely useful to consider evidence of executive function as related to the diminished capacity doctrine at sentencing. This is because it is primarily at this stage in criminal proceedings where the use of the diminished capacity doctrine is most prevalent, as evidenced by the recent Supreme Court cases of Atkins v. Virginia (536 U.S. 304 (2002)) and Roper v. Simmons (543 U.S. 551 (2005)).<br>. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to clarify the role of the distinction between belief and opinion in the light of Dennett's intentional stance. In particular, I consider whether the distinction could be used for a defence of the stance from various criticisms. I will then apply the distinction to the so-called `paradoxes of irrationality'. In this context I will propose that we should avoid the postulation of `boundaries' or `gaps' within the mind, and will attempt to show that a (...) useful treatment of the paradoxes can be obtained by revising the rationality assumption. (shrink)