An Introspectivist View of the Mental

Dissertation, Brown University (1997)
Authors
Brie Gertler
University of Virginia
Abstract
My dissertation has three interrelated aims: to defend introspectivism, the view that the deliverances of introspection should be basic data for philosophical theories of the mind, from pivotal objections which inspire the currently prevailing anti-introspectivist approach to mentality; to advance a substantive account of introspection; and to lay the groundwork for a more general theory about the mental. ;I begin by analyzing a host of philosophical problems about the mind; in each, I isolate the source of perplexity in an epistemic factor. The body of the thesis is devoted to elucidating the ontological and epistemological status of mind by considering, in turn, phenomenality and intentionality. ;Physicalism lacks the resources to explain the individual subject's greater epistemic authority regarding the phenomenal as compared to the physical. My detailed account of phenomenal state introspection is therefore preferable to the physicalist explanations of phenomenal knowledge; its consequences include a counterexample to a widely-accepted constraint on concept possession and a minor modification to one familiar theory of de se reference. ;Similarly, functionalist reduction of intentional states cannot countenance our refusal to defer to empirical science regarding one's occurrent mental states to the same extent that we defer regarding physical states. My account of introspection, which does justice to the measure of authority we retain about our own intentional states, undermines both functionalism and content externalism about such states. ;Grave difficulties face each of the four currently popular views about the relation between phenomenality and intentionality. According to my alternative, occurrent phenomenal states and occurrent intentional states are importantly different yet share an epistemic feature which distinguishes them from physical states: our deference to empirical science regarding such occurrent states is limited in a way that our deference regarding physical states is not. The key to understanding the mind is thus intimately related to the primary source of philosophical problems about it, namely, the disparity between our knowledge of the mental and our knowledge of the physical
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