The book is an extended argument against neuralism (or against a sort of argument for neuralism), where neuralism is understood to be the identification of mental events with neurophysiological events. So an event of a trying is not supposed to be inner in the sense that a brain event is. And although Pietroski accepts Descartes metaphysical distinction between mental events and physical events, he does not need to extend this to the thought that mental events occupy a special mental realm. (...) So there seems to be no underlying theoretical motivation for denying the natural thought that tryings are usually ‘out there’ in.. (shrink)
Despite being somewhat long in the tooth at the time, Aristotle, Hume and Kant were still dominating twentieth century moral philosophy. Much of the progress made in that century came from a detailed working through of each of their approaches by the expanding and increasingly professionalized corps of academic philosophers. And this progress can be measured not just by the quality and sophistication of moral philosophy at the end of that century, but also by the narrowing of some of the (...) gaps between Aristotelian, Humean and Kantian philosophers. (shrink)
Are there any mechanisms in the natural world that respond to reasons – that are sensitive to considerations about what they should do? I think that the answer is that there are approximately 6.6 billion of them on this planet alone. This is not to say that there is nothing more to being a person than being a rational agent – a reasons-responder. My claim is just that to the extent that we are agents we are mechanisms that respond to (...) reasons. (shrink)
An influential philosophical conception of our mind’s place in the world is as a site for the states and events that causally mediate the world we perceive and the world we affect. According to this conception, states and events in the world cause mental states and events in us through the process of perception. These mental states and events then go on to produce new states and events in the world through the process of action. Our role is as hosts (...) for these states and events that causally mediate the states and events on the input side and those on the output side. (shrink)
What someone’s behaviour must be like if we are to be aware of their emotions in it Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9224-0 Authors Rowland Stout, School of Philosophy, UCD Dublin, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759.
Starting from the assumption that one can literally perceive someone's anger in their face, I argue that this would not be possible if what is perceived is a static facial signature of their anger. There is a product–process distinction in talk of facial expression, and I argue that one can see anger in someone's facial expression only if this is understood to be a process rather than a product.
A significant argument for the claim that knowing-wh is knowing-that, implicit in much of the literature, including Stanley and Williamson (2001), is spelt out and challenged. The argument includes the assumption that a subject's state of knowing-wh is constituted by their involvement in a relation with an answer to a question. And it involves the assumption that answers to questions are propositions or facts. One of Lawrence Powers' counterexamples to the conjunction of these two assumptions is developed, responses to it (...) are rebutted, and the possibility of rejecting the second rather than the first of these assumptions is explored briefly. (shrink)
Action is a fresh and engaging introduction to the many philosophical problems associated with agency and is ideally suited for students taking courses in philosophy of action, philosophy of mind and metaphysics.
Practical reasons figure in both the justification and the causal explanation of action. It is usually assumed that the agent’s state of believing rather than what they believe must figure in the causal explanation of action. But, that the agent believes something is not a reason in the sense of being part of the justification of what they do. So it is often concluded that the justifying reason is a different sort of thing from the causally motivating reason. But this (...) means that in a causal process of acting the justifying reasons have done their work by the time the agent has the appropriate beliefs and desires. Transforming these into behaviour is not guided by reason. This conception of action in which there is no role for reason in the part of the process where anything actually gets done is not acceptable. So the original assumption that beliefs rather than the believed facts figure in the casual explanation of action should be challenged. (shrink)
The central claim of philosophical behaviourism is this: what it is to be in a certain state of mind is to be disposed to behave in a certain way. Most philosophers think that this claim is obviously false. They also think it is offensive. They think it is offensive because it appears to reduce or eliminate what is most valuable to us – our minds. It puts the notion of behaviour in the place of mind, and so removes what distinguishes (...) us from automata. B. F. Skinner, one of the most famous (notorious) behaviourists, thought that behaviourism was a tool for social control, albeit a very liberal sort of control. He thought that by understanding how to condition people’s behaviour we would know how to achieve a better society. (shrink)
 In chapter 2 of _The Concept of Mind_, “Knowing How and Knowing That”, and especially in the section on “Understanding and Misunderstanding”, Ryle rejects two approaches to the question of the interpretation of other minds that correspond quite closely with what are now called functionalism, or theory theory, and simulation theory. There is a painful irony here that the functionalist approach to the philosophy of mind, which developed in the late 60s and 70s, has widely been regarded as completely (...) superseding Ryle’s own approach. (shrink)
The purely theoretical notion of fitness or optimality that is employed for instance in optimization theory has come under attack from those who think that only a more historically based notion of fitness could have a central role in evolutionary explanation. They argue that the key notion is proven usefulness rather than theoretical usefulness. This paper articulates a notion of theoretical usefulness and defends its role in functional evolutionary explanations.
Rowland Stout presents a new philosophical account of human action which is radically and controversially different from all rival theories. He argues that intentional actions are unique among natural phenomena in that they happen because they should happen, and that they are to be explained in terms of objective facts rather than beliefs and intentions.