The uses and abuses of the personal/subpersonal distinction

Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):1-18 (2012)
Authors
Zoe Drayson
University of California, Davis
Abstract
In this paper, I claim that the personal/subpersonal distinction is first and foremost a distinction between two kinds of psychological theory or explanation: it is only in this form that we can understand why the distinction was first introduced, and how it continues to earn its keep. I go on to examine the different ontological commitments that might lead us from the primary distinction between personal and subpersonal explanations to a derivative distinction between personal and subpersonal states. I argue that on one of the most common metaphysical interpretations of the explanatory distinction, talk of a distinction between personal and subpersonal states simply makes no sense. When people insist on applying the personal/subpersonal terminology to psychological states, I allow that they are often making a genuine distinction, but one that it is best understood in terms of Stich's (1978) distinction between doxastic and subdoxastic states. I end the paper by considering some other common misinterpretations of the personal/subpersonal distinction, such as those involving consciousness, normativity, or autonomy.
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DOI 10.1111/phpe.12014
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References found in this work BETA

Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
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Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

Know-How as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
The Personal/Subpersonal Distinction.Zoe Drayson - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (5):338-346.
Varieties of Inference?Anna‐Sara Malmgren - 2018 - Philosophical Issues 28 (1):221-254.

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