Persons and psychological frameworks: A critique of Tye

Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (2-3):141-163 (2009)
This paper concerns the relationships between persons, brains, behaviour, and psychological explanation. Tye defines a ‘psychological framework’ (PF) as a set of token beliefs, desires, intentions, memories, streams of consciousness, higher-order mental states, etc., that ‘form a coherent whole’ and against which a creature’s ‘behavior can be explained’ (p. 141). A person is the subject of such a psychological framework. Each person has one PF, and with each new PF there is a new person. Meanwhile materialism tells us, according to Tye, that brains are the bearers of mental states. In other words, ‘each person is a brain’ (p. 142) — or rather a ‘global physical state of the brain,’ since Tye believes that a single brain might realize multiple PFs and thus constitute multiple persons. Most of this paper simply assumes Tye’s account of personal identity, in order to expose certain contradictions within what Tye says about personhood in split-brain subjects. Towards the end of the paper, however, I turn to alternative accounts of persons. While a method of individuating persons grounded in scientific psychology would identify persons with psychological frameworks, as Tye does, perhaps an account of personhood grounded either in a non-psychological science, or in non-scientific psychology, would better fit the interests we have in personal identity.
Keywords Philosophy of mind  Split-brain phenomenon  Individuating mental tokens  Personal identity
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