Recent philosophy of mind has had a mistaken conception of the nature of psychological concepts. It has assumed too much similarity between psychological judgments and those of natural science and has thus overlooked the fact that other people are not just objects whose thoughts we may try to predict and control but fellow creatures with whom we talk and co-operate. In this collection of essays, Jane Heal argues that central to our ability to arrive at views about others' thoughts is (...) not knowledge of some theory of the mind but rather an ability to imagine alternative worlds and how things appear from another person's point of view. She then applies this view to questions of how we represent others' thoughts, the shape of psychological concepts, the nature of rationality and the possibility of first person authority. This book should appeal to students and professionals in philosophy of mind and language. (shrink)
We are social primates, for whom language-mediated co-operative thinking (‘co-cognition’) is a central element of our shared life. Psychological concepts may be illuminated by appreciating their role in enriching and improving such co-cognition — a role which is importantly different from that of enabling detailed prediction and control of thoughts and behaviour. This account of the nature of psychological concepts (‘co-cognitivism’) has social anti-individualism about thought content as a natural corollary. The combination of co-cognitivism and anti-individualism further suggests that, in (...) addition to the familiar first person authority with which we ascribe thoughts to ourselves, there may also be something deserving the name ‘second person authority’. (shrink)
[Michael Tye] Externalism about thought contents has received enormous attention in the philosophical literature over the past fifteen years or so, and it is now the established view. There has been very little discussion, however, of whether memory contents are themselves susceptible to an externalist treatment. In this paper, I argue that anyone who is sympathetic to Twin Earth thought experiments for externalism with respect to certain thoughts should endorse externalism with respect to certain memories. /// [Jane Heal] Tye claims (...) that an externalist should say that memory content invoking natural kind concepts floats free of the setting where the memory is laid down and is at later times determined by the context in which the memory is revived. His argument assumes the existence of 'slow switching' of the meaning of natural kind terms when a person is transported from Earth to Twin Earth. But proper understanding of natural kind terms suggests that slow switching (contrary to what is often presupposed) is likely never to be completed. Hence the situation of a person unknowingly transported to Twin Earth is not that his memories switch content but rather that he gets two natural kinds confused. (shrink)
There are modes of presentation of a person in thought corresponding to the first and third person pronouns. This paper proposes that there is also thought involving a second person mode of presentation of another, which might be expressed by an utterance involving ‘you’, but need not be expressed linguistically. It suggests that co-operative activity is the locus for such thought. First person thought is distinctive in how it supplies reasons for the subject to act. In co-operative action there is (...) first person plural intending and judging. So there is a way of thinking of another, when openly co-operating with him or her, which plays the distinctive role of giving reason for contribution to the co-operative activity. In slogan form, ‘you’ is ‘we minus I’. The way children learn to use second and third person pronouns is naturally explained on this view. Contrasting less sophisticated kinds of co-operative activity with more sophisticated forms, and considering some issues about common knowledge and commo.. (shrink)
How are we to explain the authority we have in pronouncing on our own thoughts? A 'constitutive' theory, on which a second-level belief may help to constitute the first-level state it is about, has considerable advantages, for example in relieving pressures towards dualism. The paper aims to exploit an analogy between authority in performative utterances and authority on the psychological to get a clearer view of how such a constitutive account might work and its metaphysical presuppositions.
Moran (2013) rightly links performance of speech acts to instituting second-personal normative relations. He also maintains that an audience's recognition of the speaker's intention in speaking is sufficient for the speaker's success in doing the speech act intended. The claim is true on some ways of understanding speech act verbs, but false on others. This complexity of speech act verbs can be explained by seeing how speech acts need to be understood in the context of shared life and cooperative action.
: Stich, Nichols et al. assert that the process of deriving predictions by simulation must be cognitively impenetrable. Hence, they claim, the occurrence of certain errors in prediction provides empirical evidence against simulation theory. But it is false that simulation‐derived prediction must be cognitively impenetrable. Moreover the errors they cite, which are instances of irrationality, are not evidence against the version of simulation theory that takes the central domain of simulation to be intelligible transitions between states with content.
Indexicality is a feature of predicates and predicate components (verbs, adjectives, adverbs and the like) as well as of referring expressions. With classic referring indexicals such as 'I' or 'that' a distinctive rule takes us from token and context to some item present in the content which is the semantic correlate of the token. Predicates and predicate components may function in an analogous fashion. For example 'thus' is an indexical adverb which latches onto some manner of performance present in its (...) context. 'John sang thus', said while indicating someone singing discordantly, claims that John sang discordantly. The phenomenon of predicatival indexicality is widespread in English and is expressed in a variety of idioms. Indexical predication plays important epistemological and psychological roles and the notion may have other interesting philosophical applications. (shrink)
In the collection under review, Boghossian assembles 14 of his papers from the last 20 years. 1 They are presented in four groups. The first three groups are focused on, respectively, the nature of mental content, the links of content with self-knowledge and the links of content with a priori knowledge. The two papers of the last group, written with David Velleman, deal with colour and colour concepts. Each group of papers is followed by a bibliography, where responses and possible (...) further reading are listed. Since Boghossian has been a notable contributor on all the topics mentioned, at the very least this collection provides a useful entry point to worthwhile literature on good problems. But one can say much more. Boghossian writes with acuity and ingenuity and his style is clear and direct. He is prepared to challenge and rethink venerable doctrines and is also prepared to revise his own views when good arguments are brought against them. He shows admirable persistence, in returning to topics from different angles, bringing out more implications of the positions explored and the complexity of the issues. He does not at any point gloss over difficulties or pretends to more completeness or decisiveness than the material warrants. So we have here much rigorous and judicious discussion of a thought-provoking kind.The fourth group of papers, on colour, is not closely linked in theme to the rest of the collection. And although the issues merit further consideration we will not pursue them here. Let me just note that in these papers Boghossian and Velleman lay out two of the more attractive realist accounts of colour, dispositional and physicalist, and argue that no current version of such theories is acceptable.In the sections which follow, I shall first consider briefly the papers on content and …. (shrink)
Some see the co-cognitive view of how we arrive at judgements about others' thoughts as a version of the analogy approach, where I reason from how I find things to be with me to how they will be for others. These thinkers think it a virtue of the view that it need not accept any linkage between thought and rationality. This paper will, however, defend the view that a co-cognitive view is a natural ally of theories which link thought and (...) rationality. It will try to show that exclusive stress on analogy is unduly sceptical about our cognitive capacities and overestimates our similarity to each other. (shrink)
Indexical predication is possible as well as the more familiar indexical reference. ‘My curtains are coloured thus’ describes my curtains. The indexical predicate expression it contains stands to possible non‐indexical replacements as a referring indexical does to possible non‐indexical replacements , in that it calls upon the context of utterance to fix its semantic contribution to the whole. Indexical predication is the natural resource to call upon in talk about skilful human performances, where we exhibit considerable know‐how but little explicit (...) know‐that. Speech is among such performances. Both direct and indirect speech reports may be illuminated by seeing them in the light of this thought. A corollary of the approach is that the prospects of providing a formal semantic treatment of indirect speech do not look good. (shrink)
How are we to explain the authority we have in pronouncing on our own thoughts? A 'constitutive' theory, on which a second-level belief may help to constitute the first -level state it is about, has considerable advantages, for example in relieving pressures towards dualism. The paper aims to exploit an analogy between authority in performative utterances and authority on the psychological to get a clearer view of how such a constitutive account might work and its metaphysical presuppositions.
It is plausible to think, as many developmental psychologists do, that joint attention is important in the development of getting a full grasp on psychological notions. This chapter argues that this role of joint attention is best understood in the context of the simulation theory about the nature of psychological understanding rather than in the context of the theory. Episodes of joint attention can then be seen not as good occasions for learning a theory of mind but rather as good (...) occasions for developing skills of expressing and sharing thoughts. This approach suggests seeing language acquisition as learning how to focus and fine-tune joint attention already present in the normal basic relation of carer and infant. Philosophers in thinking about other minds have concentrated too much on the contrast of first and third person, I vs he/she, and forgotten the centrality of the contrast of first and second person, I vs you, and the related centrality of we. (shrink)
Philosophy is an ambitious, speculative practice, aimed at finding out what wisdom is and how to attain it, in so far as that can be done by explicit discussion and argument. A likely pitfall of any such enterprise is that it loses touch with concerns in human life outside itself and becomes scholastic, in the pejorative sense. Academic institutions which encourage wide and outward-looking intellectual sympathies, and which do not reward narrow point-scoring specialism, are helpful in resisting the tendency to (...) scholasticism. The Moral Sciences Tripos at Cambridge might have provided some of the elements of such a setting, by framing an academic structure in which philosophy was studied in conjunction with other subjects in the humanities and social sciences. As things actually developed, that possibility was not realised. Nevertheless, philosophy at Cambridge maintained vigour and significance, through the intellectual freedom and encouragement it provided to some notable individual philosophers. (shrink)
We find it natural to say that creatures with minds can be understood ‘from the inside’. The paper explores what could be meant by this attractive but, on reflection, somewhat mysterious idea. It suggests that it may find a hospitable placement, which makes its content and appeal clearer, in one version of the so-called ‘simulation theory’ approach to grasp of psychological concepts. Simulation theory suggests that ability to use imagination in rethinking others’ thoughts and in recreating their trains of reasoning (...) is central to our grasp and use of psychological concepts.On this view to think of another’s mind is not to think of some intricate quasi-mechanical assemblage of items in the other’s head which causally explain her behavior. If this is all that the ‘inside’ of another person, i.e. her mind, were like, then there would be no question of anything being ‘from’ it. The simulation view, however, emphasizes that thoughts essentially have content and that identifying another’s thought, and working out its possible effects, involves identifying its content and oneself entertaining thoughts with the same content.So, on this approach, to think of another’s mind is to think of a complex but rationally unified set of thoughts, a set which is conceived as had by one subject but where the contents and relations can be grasped and appreciated by another. Some of these thoughts will be indexical and the whole can thus be said to constitute the subject’s point of view on the world, both literally and metaphorically. Grasping this point of view is, the paper suggests, what is meant by speaking of ‘understanding from the inside’. (shrink)
Can we understand other minds ‘from the inside’? What would this mean? There is an attraction which many have felt in the idea that creatures with minds, people , invite a kind of understanding which inanimate objects such as rocks, plants and machines, do not invite and that it is appropriate to seek to understand them ‘from the inside’. What I hope to do in this paper is to introduce and defend one version of the so-called ‘simulation’ approach to our (...) grasp and use of psychological concepts, a version which gives central importance to the idea of shared rationality, and in so doing to tease out and defend one strand in the complex of ideas which finds expression in this mysterious phrase. (shrink)