What is the relationship between common-sense, or 'folk', psychology and contemporary scientific psychology? Are they in conflict with one another? Or do they perform quite different, though perhaps complementary, roles? George Botterill and Peter Carruthers discuss these questions, defending a robust form of realism about the commitments of folk psychology and about the prospects for integrating those commitments into natural science. Their focus throughout the book is on the ways in which cognitive science presents a challenge to our common-sense self-image (...) - arguing that our native conception of the mind will be enriched, but not overturned, by science. The Philosophy of Psychology is designed as a textbook for upper-level undergraduate and beginning graduate students in philosophy and cognitive science, but as a text that not only surveys but advances the debates on the topics discussed, it will also be of interest to researchers working in these areas. (shrink)
The thesis of underdetermination presents a major obstacle to the epistemological claims of scientific realism. That thesis is regularly assumed in the philosophy of science, but is puzzlingly at odds with the actual history of science, in which empirically adequate theories are thin on the ground. We propose to advance a case for scientific realism which concentrates on the process of scientific reasoning rather than its theoretical products. Developing an account of causal–explanatory inference will make it easier to resist the (...) thesis of underdetermination. For, if we are not restricted to inference to the best explanation only at the level of major theories, we will be able to acknowledge that there is a structure in data sets which imposes serious constraints on possible theoretical alternatives. We describe how Differential Inference, a form of inference based on contrastive explanation, can be used in order to generate causal hypotheses. We then go on to consider how experimental manipulation of differences can be used to achieve Difference Closure, thereby confirming claims of causal efficacy and also eliminating possible confounds. The model of Differential Inference outlined here shows at least one way in which it is possible to ‘reason from the phenomena’. (shrink)
Improved control of agency is likely to be a prior and more important function of episodic memory than the epistemic-communicative role pinpointed by Mahr and Csibra. Taking the memory trace upon which scenario construction is based to be a stored internal model produced in past perceptual processing promises to provide a better account of autonoetic character than metarepresentational embedding.
To give a causal explanation is to give information about causal history. But a vast amount of causal history lies behind anything that happens, far too much to be included in any intelligible explanation. This is the Problem of Limitation for explanatory information. To cope with this problem, explanations must select for what is relevant to and adequate for answering particular inquiries. In the present paper this idea is used in order to distinguish two kinds of causal explanation, on the (...) grounds of systematic differences in their conditions of relevance and adequacy. It is further argued that these two forms of causal explanation are interdependent and their interaction provides an instrument through which causal knowledge is acquired and enhanced. What we understand causation in the world to be is neither unconditioned regularity, nor counterfactual dependence, but the sum of correct answers to explanatory inquiries of these two interdependent kinds. (shrink)
We often explain by citing an absence or an omission. Apart from the problem of assigning a causal role to such apparently negative factors as absences and omissions, there is a puzzle as to why only some absences and omissions, out of indefinitely many, should figure in explanations. In this paper we solve this ’many absences problem’ by using the contrastive model of explanation. The contrastive model of explanation is developed by adapting Peter Lipton’s account. What initially appears to be (...) only a trivial amendment to Lipton’s Difference Condition enables us both to offer a much more satisfactory solution to the ’many absences problem’ than David Lewis did, and also to explain why explanation in terms of absences and omissions should be so common. (shrink)
Berkeley claims idealism provides a novel argument for the existence of God. But familiar interpretations of his argument fail to support the conclusion that there is a single omnipotent spirit. A satisfying reconstruction should explain the way Berkeley moves between first person singular and plural, as well as providing a powerful argument, once idealism is accepted. The new interpretation offered here represents the argument as an inference to the best explanation of a shared reality. Consequently, his use of the first (...) person must be taken as ‘exemplary’ rather than ‘Cartesian’. This explains the freedom of movement in the text between singular and plural. However, it also reveals Berkeley as side-stepping sceptical doubt. (shrink)
Davidson argued that the fact we can have a reason for acting, and yet not be the reason why we act, requires explanation of action in terms of the agent's reasons to be causal. The present paper agrees with Dickenson (_Pacific Philosophical Quarterly_, 2007) in taking this argument to be an inference to the best explanation. However, its target phenomenon is the very existence of a case in which an agent has more than one reason, but acts exclusively becaue of (...) one reason. Folk psychology appears to allow for this phenomenon. However, appreciation of 'rationalization' as a form of contrastive explanation reveals the existence of the Davidsonian possibility to the problematic. Claims that 'I did it because of R1, not because of R2' are entertained in folk psychology, and may be sincere or insincere. But as reports of conscious practical reasoning, even when sincere, they are not authoritative about the mechanism of motivation. (shrink)
There are two epistemological problems connected with dreaming, which are of different kinds and require different treatment. The internal problem is best seen as a problem of rational consistency, of how we can maintain all of: Dreams are experiences we have during sleep. Dream-experiences are sufficiently similar to waking experiences for the subject to be able to mistake them for waking experiences. We can tell that we are awake. (1)-(3) threaten to violate a requirement on discrimination: that we can only (...) tell Xs from Ys if there is some detectable difference between Xs and Ys. Attempts to solve the problem by Descartes and Williams are considered. It is suggested that if we take account of levels of epistemic risk, we can use Descartes's criterion of lack of coherence, at least with hindsight - which is the time when we need to use it. (shrink)