Causation and Mental Content: Against the Externalist Interpretation of Ockham

In Magali Elise Roques & Jenny Pelletier (eds.), The Language of Thought in Late Medieval Philosophy. Essays in Honour of Claude Panaccio (2017)

Authors
Susan Brower-Toland
Saint Louis University
Abstract
On the dominant interpretation, Ockham is an externalist about mental content. This reading is founded principally on his theory of intuitive cognition. Intuitive cognition plays a foundational role in Ockham’s account of concept formation and judgment, and Ockham insists that the content of intuitive states is determined by the causal relations such states bear to their objects. The aim of this paper is to challenge the externalist interpretation by situating Ockham’s account of intuitive cognition vis-à-vis his broader account of efficient causation. While there can be no doubt that intuitive states are causally individuated, I argue that, given Ockham’s broader theory of efficient causation (on which causation turns out to be an internal relation), this very fact entails that the content of such states is determined by factors internal (rather than external) to the states themselves.
Keywords mental content  Ockham  medieval theories of causation  internalism about mental content  intuitive cognition  14th century philosophy  medieval philosophy  causation
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References found in this work BETA

Ockham’s Weak Externalism.Philip Choi - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (6):1075-1096.
Intuition, Externalism, and Direct Reference in Ockham.Susan Brower-Toland - 2007 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 24 (4):317-336.

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