In this article we take issue with theory theory and simulation theory accounts of folk psychology committed to (i) the belief-desire (BD) model and (ii) the assumption of universality (AU). Recent studies cast doubt on the compatibility of these commitments because they reveal considerable cross-cultural differences in folk psychologies. We present both theory theory and simulation theory with the following dilemma: either (i) keep the BD-model as an account of the surface properties of specific explicit folk psychologies (...) and give up AU in light of the cross-cultural evidence; or (ii) defend AU with respect to core capacities underlying different culture-specific folk psychologies, and explain why the BD-model will be genuinely explanatory at this level. (shrink)
In this paper, I present and defend a novel account of doubt. In Part 1, I make some preliminary observations about the nature of doubt. In Part 2, I introduce a new puzzle about the relationship between three psychological states: doubt, belief, and confidence. I present this puzzle because my account of doubt emerges as a possible solution to it. Lastly, in Part 3, I elaborate on and defend my account of doubt. Roughly, one (...) has doubt if and only if one believes one might be wrong; I argue that this is superior to the account that says that one has doubt if and only if one has less than the highest degree of confidence. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine one particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. More specifically, I attempt to elucidate his account of what I call the sustaining causes of religious belief—that is, those causes that keep religious beliefs alive in modern human societies. In attempting to make some progress at clarifying this element of Hume’s psychology, I examine one particular ‘experiment’—namely, the case of Thomas More, a man who is, by Hume’s own admission, a person (...) of remarkable virtue. I contend that the most salient Humean explanations of More’s religious convictions are implausible but that Hume has at his disposal three more plausible hypotheses to account for More’s faith. I conclude, however, by suggesting that these hypotheses alone are insufficient to solve the puzzle More poses for this particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. (shrink)
Some eliminativists have predicted that a developed neuroscience will eradicate the principles and theoretical kinds (belief, desire, etc.) implicit in our ordinary practices of mental state attribution. Prevailing defenses of common-sense psychology infer its basic integrity from its familiarity and instrumental success in everyday social commerce. Such common-sense defenses charge that eliminativist arguments are self-defeating in their folk psychological appeal to the belief that eliminativism is true. I argue that eliminativism is untouched by this simple charge of (...) inconsistency, and introduce a different dialectical strategy for arguing against the eliminativist. In keeping with the naturalistic trend in the sociology and philosophy of science, I show that neuroscientists routinely rely on folk psychological procedures of intentional state attribution in applying epistemically reliable standards of scientific evaluation. These scientific contexts place ordinary procedures of attribution under greater stress, producing evidence of folk psychological success that is less equivocal than the evidence in mundane settings. Therefore, the dependence of science on folk psychology, when combined with an independently plausible explanatory constraint on reduction and an independently motivated notion of theoretical stress, allows us to reconstitute the charge of (neurophilic) eliminativist inconsistency in a more sophisticated form. (shrink)
This book develops in detail the simple idea that assertion is the expression of belief. In it the author puts forward a version of 'probabilistic semantics' which acknowledges that we are not perfectly rational, and which offers a significant advance in generality on theories of meaning couched in terms of truth conditions. It promises to challenge a number of entrenched and widespread views about the relations of language and mind. Part I presents a functionalist account of belief, worked (...) through a modified form of decision theory. In Part II the author generates a theory of meaning in terms of 'assertibility conditions', whereby to know the meaning of an assertion is to know the belief it expresses. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to clarify the role of the distinction between belief and opinion in the light of Dennett's intentional stance. In particular, I consider whether the distinction could be used for a defence of the stance from various criticisms. I will then apply the distinction to the so-called `paradoxes of irrationality'. In this context I will propose that we should avoid the postulation of `boundaries' or `gaps' within the mind, and will attempt to show that (...) a useful treatment of the paradoxes can be obtained by revising the rationality assumption. (shrink)
We develop a novel challenge to pragmatic encroachment. The significance of belief-desire psychology requires treating questions about what to believe as importantly prior to questions about what to do; pragmatic encroachment undermines that priority, and therefore undermines the significance of belief-desire psychology. This, we argue, is a higher cost than has been recognized by epistemologists considering embracing pragmatic encroachment.
In this paper, we explore Peirce's work for insights into a theory of learning and cognition for education. Our focus for this exploration is Peirce's paper The Fixation of Belief (FOB), originally published in 1877 in Popular Science Monthly. We begin by examining Peirce's assertion that the study of logic is essential for understanding thought and reasoning. We explicate Peirce's view of the nature of reasoning itself—the characteristic guiding principles or ‘habits of mind’ that underlie acts of inference, the (...) dimensions of and interaction between doubt and belief, and his four methods of resolving or ‘fixing’ belief (i.e., tenacity, authority, a priori, and experimentation). The four methods are then juxtaposed against current models of teaching and learning such as constructivism, schema theory, situated cognition, and inquiry learning. Finally, we discuss Peirce's modes of inference as they relate educationally to the resolution of doubt and beliefs and offer an example of belief resolution from an experienced teacher in a professional development environment. (shrink)
The relationship between personal meaning, belief systems, and health and wellbeing is discussed. It is argued that our conceptions of health and wellbeing must incorporate a concern for spirituality. As information is processed via our senses in the course of human development, we gradually construct complex belief systems, including worldviews, life-philosophies, religions, mythologies, and spiritual paths. Though differing in content, these complex belief systems guide our behavior and provide us with a sense of personal meaning. However, meaning-making (...) is not the end point of the process. Rather, meaning-making must be accompanied by the willingness to doubt. It is the dialectical tension between belief and doubt that gives rise to a spiritual sense of being-characterized by awe, reverence, and meaning-that has salutogenic consequences. (shrink)
Circumscribed delusional beliefs can follow brain injury. We suggest that these involve anomalous perceptual experiences created by a deficit to the person's perceptual system, and misinterpretation of these experiences due to biased reasoning. We use the Capgras delusion (the claim that one or more of one's close relatives has been replaced by an exact replica or impostor) to illustrate this argument. Our account maintains that people voicing this delusion suffer an impairment that leads to faces being perceived as drained of (...) their normal affective significance, and an additional reasoning bias that leads them to put greater weight on forming beliefs that are observationally adequate rather than beliefs that are a conservative extension of their existing stock. We show how this position can integrate issues involved in the philosophy and psychology of belief, and examine the scope for mutually beneficial interaction. (shrink)
The big question mark (in guise of a preface) -- This incredible need to believe : interview with Carmine Donzelli -- From Jesus to Mozart : Christianity's difference? -- Suffering : Lenten lectures, March 19, 2006 -- The genius of Vatholicism -- Don't be afraid of European culture.
In this paper, I address Mitchell Herschbach’s arguments against the phenomenological critics of folk psychology. Central to Herschbach’s arguments is the introduction of Michael Wheeler’s distinction between ‘on-line’ and ‘off-line’ intelligence to the debate on social understanding. Herschbach uses this distinction to describe two arguments made by the phenomenological critics. The first is that folk psychology is exclusively off-line and mentalistic. The second is that social understanding is on-line and non-mentalistic. To counter the phenomenological critics, Herschbach argues for (...) the existence of on-line false belief understanding. This demonstrates that folk psychology is not restricted to off-line forms and that folk psychology is more widespread than the phenomenological critics acknowledge. In response, I argue the on-line/off-line distinction is a problematic way of demarcating the phenomenological critics from orthodox accounts of folk psychology. (shrink)
This volume is a collection of original essays by eminent philosophers written for R. B. Braithwaite's eightieth birthday to celebrate his work and teaching. In one way or another, all the essays reflect his central concern with the impact of science on our beliefs about the world and the responses appropriate to that. Together they testify to the signal importance of his contributions in areas of philosophy bearing on this concern: the philosophy of science, especially of the statistical sciences, theories (...) of belief and of probability, decision theory and games theory. This book, which includes a full bibliography of Professor Braithwaite's work, will interest advanced students and professionals in the fields of philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
The dominant account of human social understanding is that we possess a 'folk psychology', that we understand and can interact with other people because we appreciate their mental states. Recently, however, philosophers from the phenomenological tradition have called into question the scope of the folk psychological account and argued for the importance of 'online', non-mentalistic forms of social understanding. In this paper I critically evaluate the arguments of these phenomenological critics, arguing that folk psychology plays a larger role (...) in human social understanding than the critics suggest. First, I use standard false-belief tasks to spell out the commitments of the folk psychological picture. Next, I explicate the critics' account in terms of Michael Wheeler's distinction between online and offline intelligence. I then demonstrate the challenge that false-belief understanding -- a paradigm case of mental state understanding -- poses to the critics' online, non- mentalistic account. Recent research on false-belief understanding illustrates that mental state understanding comes in both online and offline forms. This challenges the critics' claim that our online social understanding does not require folk psychology. (shrink)
The language of self‐belief, including terms like shyness and diffidence, is complex and puzzling. The idea of self‐esteem in particular, which has been given fresh currency by recent interest in ‘personalised learning’, continues to create problems. I argue first that we need a ‘thicker’ and more subtle moral psychology of self‐belief; and, secondly, that there is a radical instability in the ideas and concepts in this area, an instability to which justice needs to be done. I suggest (...) that aspects of deconstruction are helpful here, and offer a deconstructive reading of Kipling's poem, If—, in order to illustrate the power of literature and a certain kind of philosophy to destabilise and resist closure. (shrink)
In this dissertation, I examine three philosophically important concepts that play a foundational role in developmental psychology: theory, representation, and belief. I describe different ways in which the concepts have been understood and present reasons why a developmental psychologist, or a philosopher attuned to cognitive development, should prefer one understanding of these concepts over another.
The theory of emotional interpretant is mentioned only a few times in Peirce’s works. My hypothesis is that if Peirce did not develop this concept through and through, and reflected on it only very late in his writings, it is because it had been implicit in almost all his previous epistemological and semiotic works. The qualitative nature which defines belief and doubt makes the whole theory of inquiry rely on feelings, and is a consistent part of the characterization (...) of beliefs as dispositions. In spite of this, objectivity is still preserved. (shrink)
From an ethnomethodological perspective, this article describes social actors’ everyday and virtual stances in terms of their practices of provisional doubt and belief for the purpose of fact-establishment. Facts are iterated, reinforced, elaborated, and transformed via phenomenal practices configuring relations of equipment, interpretation, and method organized as “other” than, but relevant to, the everyday. Such practices in scientific research involve forms of suspended belief; in other areas they can instead involve forms of suspended doubt. As an (...) illuminating example of this latter class of virtual fact-establishment practices, I offer an extended analysis of the “yes; and…” principle of information-establishment used in improvisational theatre to progressively develop the content of a performance. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine one particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. More specifically, I attempt to elucidate his account of what I call the sustaining causes of religious belief—that is, those causes that keep religious beliefs alive in modern human societies. In attempting to make some progress at clarifying this element of Hume’s psychology, I examine one particular ‘experiment’— namely, the case of Thomas More, a man who is, by Hume’s own admission, a (...) person of remarkable virtue. I contend that the most salient Humean explanations of More’s religious convictions are implausible but that Humehas at his disposal three more plausible hypotheses to account for More’s faith. I conclude, however, by suggesting that these hypotheses alone are insufficient to solve the puzzle More poses for this particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. (shrink)
Eliminative materialism is a popular view of the mind which holds that propositional attitudes, the typical units of our traditional understanding, are unsupported by modern connectionist psychology and neuroscience, and consequently that propositional attitudes are a poor scientific postulate, and do not exist. Since our traditional folk psychology employs propositional attitudes, the usual argument runs, it too represents a poor theory, and may in the future be replaced by a more successful neurologically grounded theory, resulting in a drastic (...) improvement in our interpersonal relationships. I contend that these eliminativist arguments typically run together two distinct capacities: the folk psychological mechanisms which we use to understand one another, and scientific and philosophical guesses about the structure of those understandings. Both capacities are ontologically committed and therefore empirical. However, the commitments whose prospects look so dismal to the eliminativist, in particular the causal and logical image of propositional attitudes, belong to the guesses, and not necessarily to the underlying mechanisms. It is the commitments of traditional philosophical perspectives about the operation of our folk psychology which are contradicted by?new evidence and modeling methods in connectionist psychology. Our actual folk psychology was not clearly committed to causal, sentential propositional attitudes, and thus is not directly threatened by connectionist psychology. (shrink)
Although the authors of modern scientific psychology agreed on precious little, Freud and Jung both insisted that any complete science of psychology requires some way to explain the intergenerational inheritance of character traits or personal habits of mind and action. Yet neither they nor their heirs in contemporary philosophy, psychology or cognitive science have been able to provide a plausible conceptual framework, much less a mechanism to account for the conservation of forms of personal agency across multiple (...) lives. Is there a role in contemporary philosophy and psychology for an intergenerational theory of human agency informed by the Buddhist theory of karma? This paper argues the affirmative case, offering both a current scientific reading of karma and a Buddhist scientific approach to the metaphysical and metapsychological problems caused by the divergence of modern science and religion in the West. The model of intergenerational agency I present here is based on a comparative study of ordinary language philosophy in ancient India and the contemporary West. Its premise is that most theories of moral development and psychological agency are limited by the insistence on a substantial or essential ground for the designation of a person or self. Ordinary language philosophy offers greater conceptual freedom because it accepts a distinctively human theory of self as a linguistic construction that refers to mind/body systems and elements in which there is no substantial or essential self. This conceptual freedom permits a model of human agency as an open system of linguistic reference that can be transmitted across generations in the course of language acquisition. Such a system is not merely discursive in that language serves to guide the social construction not just of discursive thinking but also of learned patterns of perception and action mastered together with language in the course of neuropsychological development. This model has implications for both Buddhist and Western worldview, popular and scientific, as well as for bioethics and the practice of psychotherapy. (shrink)
_The Pragmatic Mind_ is a study of the pragmatism of Emerson, James, and Peirce and its overlooked relevance for the neopragmatism of thinkers like Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Stanley Fish, and Cornel West. Arguing that the "original" pragmatists are too-often cited casually and imprecisely as mere precursors to this contemporary group of American intellectuals, Mark Bauerlein explores the explicit consequences of the earlier group’s work for current debates among and around the neopragmatists. Bauerlein extracts from Emerson, James, and Peirce an (...) intellectual focus that can be used to advance the broad social and academic reforms that the new pragmatists hail. He claims that, in an effort to repudiate the phony universalism of much contemporary theory, the new generation of theorists has ignored the fact that its visions of pragmatic action are grounded in this "old" school, not just in a way of _doing_ things but also in a way of _thinking_ about things. In other words, despite its inclination to regard psychological questions as irrelevant, Bauerlein shows that the pragmatic method demands a pragmatic mind—that is, a concept of cognition, judgment, habit, and belief. He shows that, in fact, such a concept of mind does exist, in the work of the "old" pragmatists. (shrink)
The phenomenon of religious belief has been much discussed in philosophy of religion. However, a priori argumentation alone cannot establish what religious belief is like as a psychological attitude. Recent advances in the cognitive science of religion have paved the way for a new, naturalized philosophy of religion. Taking into account the relevant results and hypotheses presented within these disciplines, it is possible to develop a more empirically informed philosophy of religious belief. Instead of asking whether believing (...) is rational, it is here asked how religious belief is cognitively possible. Combining Boyer's evolutionary account of religion with Sperber's and Cosmides and Tooby's theory of metarepresentation, we get the sort of conceptual toolkit needed to specify those cognitive mechanisms and operations that make religious belief possible. Religious belief is shown to require a unique combination of these mechanisms and operations. (shrink)
In 1938 Wittgenstein delivered a short course of lectures on aesthetics to a small group of students at Cambridge. The present volume has been compiled from notes taken down at the time by three of the students: Rush Rhees, Yorick Smythies, and James Taylor. They have been supplemented by notes of conversations on Freud (to whom reference was made in the course on aesthetics) between Wittgenstein and Rush Rhees, and by notes of some lectures on religious belief. As very (...) little is known of Wittgenstein's views on these subjects from his published works, these notes should be of considerable interest to students of contemporary philosophy. Further, their fresh and informal style should recommend Wittgenstein to those who find his Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations a little formidable. (shrink)
By a logical theory I mean a formal system together with its semantics, meta-theory, and rules for translating ordinary language into its notation. Logical theories can be used descriptively (for example, to represent particular arguments or to depict the logical form of certain sentences). Here the logician uses the usual methods of empirical science to assess the correctness of his descriptions. However, the most important applications of logical theories are normative, and here, I argue, the epistemology is that of wide (...) reflective equilibrium. The result is that logic not only assesses our inferential practice but also changes it. I tie my discussion to Thagard's views concerning the relationship between psychology and logic, arguing against him that psychology has and should have only a peripheral role in normative (and most descriptive) applications of logic. (shrink)
Over the last decade a handful of cognitive models of religious belief have begun to coalesce in the literature. Attempts to offer “scientific explanations of religious belief ” are nothing new, stretching back at least as far as David Hume, and perhaps as far back as Cicero. What is also not new is a belief that scientific explanations of religious belief serve in some way to undermine the justification for those beliefs.
In this paper, we take issue with the belief?desire model of second- and third-person action interpretation as it is presented by both theory theories and cognitivist versions of simulation theory. These accounts take action interpretation to consist in the (tacit) attribution of proper belief?desire pairs that mirror the structure of formally valid practical inferences. We argue that the belief?desire model rests on the unwarranted assumption that the interpreter can only reach the agent's practical context of action through (...) inference. This assumption betrays a deep-seated bias toward disengaged, observational interpretation strategies. On our alternative picture, the interpreter can start off on the assumption of a shared practical context and proceed to reason discourse in those cases in which this assumption runs aground. Following Brandom's non-formalist account of reason discourse, we suggest that interpreting other people's actions in terms of reasons is not a matter of following the principles of formally valid practical syllogisms, but of endorsing practical material inferences that are correct in virtue of a shared practical world. (shrink)