by Elijah Millgram

Elijah Millgram
University of Utah
Late British Empiricism was a research project built around a two-part psychological theory: that thoughts represent their objects by qualitatively resembling them and that thought proceeds by traversing associative links between ideas. The work of Hume, and then of Mill, were the project's highwater marks ; twentieth-century philosophers no longer find the psychology convincing. The problem, as far as the philosophers were concerned, was not so much that the account seemed false upon introspection, nor that the discipline of psychology had itself moved on, but that the psychological theory did not make good on its explanatory obligations: most importantly, a thought's being a mental picture is not a satisfactory account of why it has the content it does. But this reason for rejecting Empiricist psychology, that it could not do its assigned philosophical job, leaves open the possibility of minds for which it is nonetheless a satisfactory description
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