The Structuring Causes of Behavior: Has Dretske Saved Mental Causation?

Acta Analytica 29 (3):267-284 (2014)

Authors
Peter Schulte
Bielefeld University
Abstract
Fred Dretske’s account of mental causation, developed in Explaining Behavior and defended in numerous articles, is generally regarded as one of the most interesting and most ambitious approaches in the field. According to Dretske, meaning facts, construed historically as facts about the indicator functions of internal states, are the structuring causes of behavior. In this article, we argue that Dretske’s view is untenable: On closer examination, the real structuring causes of behavior turn out to be markedly different from Dretske’s meaning facts. Our argument proceeds in three steps. First, we set forth the problem of meaning individuation: We argue that the proposal that meaning facts are structuring causes of behavior commits Dretske to a very fine-grained individuation of meanings that is deeply counterintuitive. In a second step, we show that even these finely individuated meaning facts cannot do the job that they are supposed to do, since information facts—which are constitutive of, but distinct from Dretske’s meaning facts—are better candidates for the role of structuring causes. Finally, we argue that it is not even information facts, but facts of co-instantiation which are the real structuring causes of behavior. In concluding, we briefly consider the options that are left for Dretske if our arguments succeed
Keywords Mental causation  Intentionality  Naturalistic theories of content  Behavior
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12136-014-0218-8
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 39,566
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Causation as Influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mental Events as Structuring Causes of Behavior.Fred Dretske - 1993 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
Dretske on the Causation of Behavior.Constantine Sandis - 2008 - Behavior and Philosophy 36:71-86.
Of Behavior, Mental Events, and Structuring Causes.Fred Dretske - 1993 - In John Heil & Alfred Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Clarendon Press. pp. 121--135.
Psychological Vs. Biological Explanations of Behavior.Fred Dretske - 2004 - Behavior and Philosophy 32 (1):167-177.
?From Natural Function to Indeterminate Content?Sonja R. Sullivan - 1993 - Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):129-37.
Indicator Semantics and Dretske's Function.Valerie Gray Hardcastle - 1994 - Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):367-82.
Causation by Relational Properties.Wim De Muijnck - 2002 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 65 (1):123-137.
Dretske's Intricate Behavior.Alfred R. Mele - 1991 - Philosophical Papers 20 (May):1-10.
Dretske on Explaining Behavior.Kirk A. Ludwig - 1993 - Acta Analytica 11 (11):111-124.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-01-26

Total views
42 ( #177,263 of 2,325,877 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #527,170 of 2,325,877 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature