In the philosophical literature on mentalstates, the paradigmatic examples of mentalstates are beliefs, desires, intentions, and phenomenal states such as being in pain. The corresponding list in the psychological literature on mental state attribution includes one further member: the state of knowledge. This article examines the reasons why developmental, comparative and social psychologists have classified knowledge as a mental state, while most recent philosophers--with the notable exception of Timothy Williamson-- have not. (...) The disagreement is traced back to a difference in how each side understands the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and belief, concepts which are understood in both disciplines to be closely linked. Psychologists and philosophers other than Williamson have generally have disagreed about which of the pair is prior and which is derivative. The rival claims of priority are examined both in the light of philosophical arguments by Williamson and others, and in the light of empirical work on mental state attribution. (shrink)
The side-effect effect, in which an agent who does not speci␣cally intend an outcome is seen as having brought it about intentionally, is thought to show that moral factors inappropriately bias judgments of intentionality, and to challenge standard mental state models of intentionality judgments. This study used matched vignettes to dissociate a number of moral factors and mentalstates. Results support the view that mentalstates, and not moral factors, explain the side-effect effect. However, the (...) critical mentalstates appear not to be desires as proposed in standard models, but rather ‘deeper’ evaluative states including values and core evaluative attitudes. (shrink)
Cognitive neuroscientists frequently talk about the brain representing the world. Some philosophers claim that this is a confusion. This paper argues that there is no confusion, and outlines one thing that might mean, using the notion of a model derived from the philosophy of science. This description is then extended to make apply to propositional attitude attributions. A number of problems about propositional attitude attributions can be solved or dissolved by treating propositional attitudes as models.
Factive mentalstates, such as knowing or being aware, can only link an agent to the truth; by contrast, nonfactive states, such as believing or thinking, can link an agent to either truths or falsehoods. Researchers of mental state attribution often draw a sharp line between the capacity to attribute accurate states of mind and the capacity to attribute inaccurate or “reality-incongruent” states of mind, such as false belief. This article argues that the contrast (...) that really matters for mental state attribution does not divide accurate from inaccurate states, but factive from nonfactive ones. (shrink)
What makes certain mentalstates subject to evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, and others arational? In this paper, I develop and defend an account that explains why belief is governed by, and so appropriately subject to, evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, one that does justice to the complexity of our evaluative practice in this domain. Then, I sketch out a way of extending the account to explain when and why other (...) kinds of mentalstates are rationally evaluable. I argue that the cognitive or psychological mechanisms that give rise to and sustain our mentalstates help to render our mentalstates appropriate targets for evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification when the operation of these mechanisms is responsive, in a specific way, to our judgments about which kinds of considerations constitute rationalizing and justifying reasons for being in states of the relevant sort. (shrink)
Perhaps because both explanation and prediction are key components to understanding, philosophers and psychologists often portray these two abilities as though they arise from the same competence, and sometimes they are taken to be the same competence. When explanation and prediction are associated in this way, they are taken to be two expressions of a single cognitive capacity that differ from one another only pragmatically. If the difference between prediction and explanation of human behavior is merely pragmatic, then anytime I (...) predict someone’s future behavior, I would at that moment also have an explanation of the behavior. I argue that advocates of both the theory theory and the simulation theory accept the symmetry of psychological prediction and explanation. However, there is very good reason to believe that this hypothesis is false. Just as we can predict the occurrence of some physical phenomena that we have no explanation for, we are also able to make accurate predictions of intentional behavior without having an explanation. Rather than requiring mental state attribution, I argue that the prediction of human behavior is most often accomplished by statistical induction rather than through an appeal to mentalstates. However, explanations are not given in these terms. (shrink)
In some situations, we attribute intentional mentalstates to a person despite their inability to articulate the contents in question: these are implicit mentalstates. Attributions of implicit mentalstates raise certain philosophical challenges related to rationality, concept possession, and privileged access. In the philosophical literature, there are two distinct strategies for addressing these challenges, depending on whether the content attributions are personal-level or subpersonal-level. This paper explores the difference between personal-level and subpersonal-level approaches (...) to implicit mental state attribution and investigates the relationship between the two approaches. It concludes by highlighting the methodological and metaphilosophical commitments which can result in different perspectives on the relative priority of personal-level and subpersonal-level theories. (shrink)
I discuss here the nature of nonconscious mentalstates and the ways in which they may differ from their conscious counterparts. I first survey reasons to think that mentalstates can and often do occur without being conscious. Then, insofar as the nature of nonconscious mentality depends on how we understand the nature of consciousness, I review some of the major theories of consciousness and explore what restrictions they may place on the kinds of states (...) that can occur nonconsciously. I close with a discussion of what makes a state mental, if consciousness is not the mark of the mental. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend Non-Inferentialism about mentalstates, the view that we can perceive some mentalstates in a direct, non-inferential way. First, I discuss how the question of mental state perception is to be understood in light of recent debates in the philosophy of perception, and reconstruct Non-Inferentialism in a way that makes the question at hand—whether we can perceive mentalstates or not—scientifically tractable. Next, I motivate Non-Inferentialism by showing that (...) under the assumption of the widely-accepted Principle of Cognitive Economy, any account that treats mental state perception as an inferential process commits itself to an unrealistically inefficient picture of our cognitive architecture. Drawing on research in cognitive science, I will then show that my Non-Inferentialist view receives direct support by the available empirical evidence. I conclude that there is no psychologically relevant sense in which perception of mentalstates differs from paradigmatic cases of perception, such as the perception of ordinary objects. (shrink)
Functionalists think an event's causes and effects, its 'causal role', determines whether it is a mental state and, if so, which kind. Functionalists see this causal role principle as supporting their orthodox materialism, their commitment to the neuroscientist's ontology. I examine and refute the functionalist's causal principle and the orthodox materialism that attends that principle.
It is widely held in philosophy that knowing is not a state of mind. On this view, rather than knowledge itself constituting a mental state, when we know, we occupy a belief state that exhibits some additional non-mental characteristics. Fascinatingly, however, new empirical findings from cognitive neuroscience and experimental philosophy now offer direct, converging evidence that the brain can—and often does—treat knowledge as if it is a mental state in its own right. While some might be tempted (...) to keep the metaphysics of epistemic states separate from the neurocognitive mechanics of our judgements about them, here I will argue that these empirical findings give us sufficient reason to conclude that knowledge is at least sometimes a mental state. The basis of this argument is the epistemological principle of neurocognitive parity—roughly, if the contents of a given judgement reflect the structure of knowledge, so do the neurocognitive mechanics that produced them. This principle, which I defend here, straightforwardly supports the inference from the empirical observation that the brain sometimes treats knowledge like a mental state to the epistemological conclusion that knowledge is at least sometimes a mental state. All told, the composite, belief-centric metaphysics of knowledge widely assumed in epistemology is almost certainly mistaken. (shrink)
Some philosophers have conflated functionalism and computationalism. I reconstruct how this came about and uncover two assumptions that made the conflation possible. They are the assumptions that (i) psychological functional analyses are computational descriptions and (ii) everything may be described as performing computations. I argue that, if we want to improve our understanding of both the metaphysics of mentalstates and the functional relations between them, we should reject these assumptions.
Theory of mind, the capacity to understand and ascribe mentalstates, has traditionally been conceptualized as analogous to a scientific theory. However, recent work in philosophy and psychology has documented a "side-effect effect" suggesting that moral evaluations influence mental state ascriptions, and in particular whether a behavior is described as having been performed 'intentionally.' This evidence challenges the idea that theory of mind is analogous to scientific psychology in serving the function of predicting and explaining, rather than (...) evaluating, behavior. In three experiments, we demonstrate that moral evaluations do inform ascriptions of intentional action, but that this relationship arises because behavior that conforms to norms (moral or otherwise) is less informative about underlying mentalstates than is behavior that violates norms. This analysis preserves the traditional understanding of theory of mind as a tool for predicting and explaining behavior, but also suggests the importance of normative considerations in social cognition. (shrink)
: The question I address in this paper is whether there is a version of mental state welfarism that can be coherent with the thesis that we have a legitimate concern for non‐experiential goals. If there is not, then we should reject mental state welfarism. My thesis is that there is such a version. My argument relies on the distinction between “reality‐centered desires” and “experience‐centered desires”. Mental state welfarism can accommodate our reality‐centered desires and our desire that (...) they be objectively satisfied. My general strategy is, at the level of the value theory, somewhat analogous to the strategy that indirect consequentialism applies at the level of moral obligation theory. To test my argument, I appeal to Nozick's well‐known example of the Experience Machine. (shrink)
It is argued that Nozick's experience machine thought experiment does not pose a particular difficulty for mental state theories of well-being. While the example shows that we value many things beyond our mentalstates, this simply reflects the fact that we value more than our own well-being. Nor is a mental state theorist forced to make the dubious claim that we maintain these other values simply as a means to desirable mentalstates. Valuing more (...) than our mentalstates is compatible with maintaining that the impact of such values upon our well-being lies in their impact upon our mental lives. (shrink)
The opposition between behaviour- and mind-reading accounts of data on infants and non-human primates could be less dramatic than has been thought up to now. In this paper, I argue for this thesis by analysing a possible neuro-computational explanation of early mind-reading, based on a mechanism of associative generalization which is apt to implement the notion of mentalstates as intervening variables proposed by Andrew Whiten. This account allows capturing important continuities between behaviour-reading and mind-reading, insofar as both (...) are supposed to be just different kinds of generalization from perceptual experience. Specifically, I will argue that the projection of inner experiences to others which is involved in early mind-reading does not imply a computational leap beyond associative generalization from perceptual experience. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper is concerned with the mental processes involved in intentional communication. I describe an agent's cognitive architecture as the set of cognitive dynamics (i.e., sequences of mentalstates with contents) she may entertain. I then describe intentional communication as one such specific dynamics, arguing against the prevailing view that communication consists in playing a role in a socially shared script. The cognitive capabilities needed for such dynamics are midreading (i.e., the ability to reason upon another (...) individual's mentalstates), and communicative planning (i.e., the ability to dynamically represent and act in a communicative situation). (shrink)
Recently, some philosophers of mind have called the attention to the idea according to which we can perceive, in many cases, some mentalstates of others. In this paper we consider two recent proposals: the co-presence thesis and the hybrid model. We will examine the aforementioned alternatives and present some objections against both of them. Then, we will propose a way of integrating both accounts that allows us to avoid these objections. In a nutshell, our idea is that (...) by perceiving other people’s behaviors we perceive their mentalstates because behaviors co-present some features of the latter that go beyond the former, and this perception of others’ minds is direct an immediate because behavior is a constitutive part of mentalstates. (shrink)
We criticize attempts to define hope in terms of other psychological states and argue that hope is a primitive mental state whose nature can be illuminated by specifying key aspects of its functional profile.
The reason for characterizing mentalstates as propositional attitudes is sentence form: ‘S Vs that p’. However, many mentalstates are not ascribed by means of such sentences, and the sentences that ascribe them cannot be appropriately paraphrased. Moreover, even if a paraphrase were always available, that in itself would not establish the characterization. And the mentalstates that are ascribable by appropriate senses do not form any natural subset of mentalstates. (...) A reason for the characterization relying on beliefs, etc., about non‐existing things is also rejected. Last, some sentences ascribing abilities and dispositions have the same grammatical form as some senses that ascribe mentalstates, so that the attempt to paraphrase the latter would obscure the conceptual relations between the two sorts. It follows that mentalstates are not relations to propositions. (shrink)
The debate between the theory-theory and simulation has largely ignored issues of cognitive architecture. In the philosophy of psychology, cognition as symbol manipulation is the orthodoxy. The challenge from connectionism, however, has attracted vigorous and renewed interest. In this paper I adopt connectionism as the antecedent of a conditional: If connectionism is the correct account of cognitive architecture, then the simulation theory should be preferred over the theory-theory. I use both developmental evidence and constraints on explanation in psychology to support (...) this claim. (shrink)
The nature of consciousness has long been a central concern for philosophers of the mind. My purpose in this paper is to argue that it is the existence of some unconscious mentalstates which poses problems for the action theory of belief. Showing their existence to be compatible with theory is not straightforward, and requires an account of unconscious belief and desire which is at odds with that favoured by many action-theorists.
This theory regards intentions as mentalstates, e.g., attitudes, which, typically, have causal power. But we do not speak of our intentions as having such powers. Instead, we speak of a person's resolve, determination, or his anxiety, eagerness, and so forth, as the ‘powers’ that move us. Of course, one desires for various reasons to carry out his various intentions but that desire is not a component of the intentions. An intention is, roughly, the course of action that (...) one has adopted, so it has no such components. There are other characteristics of intentions which the mental state idea of intentions does not share. Intentions do not have the temporal characteristics that mentalstates have, or share the curious context dependency that intentions have. And since, according to the theory, mentalstates operate causally, it would not be possible for a person to commit himself to a course of action as we ordinarily do when we make a promise or sign an agreement or contract. (shrink)
Relatively poor memory for dreams is important evidence for Hobson et al.'s model of conscious states. We describe the time-gap experience as evidence that everyday memory for waking states may not be as good as they assume. As well as being surprisingly sparse, everyday memories may themselves be systematically distorted in the same manner that Revonsuo attributes uniquely to dreams. [Hobson et al.; Revonsuo].
The emergence of mentalstates from neural states by partitioning the neural phase space is analyzed in terms of symbolic dynamics. Well-deﬁned mentalstates provide contexts inducing a criterion of structural stability for the neurodynamics that can be implemented by particular partitions. This leads to distinguished subshifts of ﬁnite type that are either cyclic or irreducible. Cyclic shifts correspond to asymptotically stable ﬁxed points or limit tori whereas irreducible shifts are obtained from generating partitions of (...) mixing hyperbolic systems. These stability criteria are applied to the discussion of neural correlates of consiousness, to the deﬁnition of macroscopic neural states, and to aspects of the symbol grounding problem. In particular, it is shown that compatible mental descriptions, topologically equivalent to the neurodynamical description, emerge if the partition of the neural phase space is generating. If this is not the case, mental descriptions are incompatible or complementary. Consequences of this result for an integration or uniﬁcation of cognitive science or psychology, respectively, will be indicated. (shrink)
We argue that the causal account offered by analytic functionalism provides the best account of the folk psychological theory of mind, and that people ordinarily define mentalstates relative to the causal roles these states occupy in relation to environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mentalstates. We present new empirical evidence, as well as review several key studies on mental state ascription to diverse types of entities such as robots, cyborgs, corporations and God, (...) and explain how this evidence supports a functional account. We also respond to two challenges to this view based on the embodiment hypothesis, or the claim that physical realizers matter over and above functional role, and qualia. In both cases we conclude that research to date best supports a functional account of ordinary mental state concepts. (shrink)
The goal of this study was to implement a Riemannian geometry -based algorithm to detect high mental workload and mental fatigue using task-induced electroencephalogram signals. In order to elicit high MWL and MF, the participants performed a cognitively demanding task in the form of the letter n-back task. We analyzed the time-varying characteristics of the EEG band power features in the theta and alpha frequency band at different task conditions and cortical areas by employing a RG-based framework. MWL (...) and MF were considered as too high, when the Riemannian distances of the task-run EEG reached or surpassed the threshold of the baseline EEG. The results of this study showed a BP increase in the theta and alpha frequency bands with increasing experiment duration, indicating elevated MWL and MF that impedes/hinders the task performance of the participants. High MWL and MF was detected in 8 out of 20 participants. The Riemannian distances also showed a steady increase toward the threshold with increasing experiment duration, with the most detections occurring toward the end of the experiment. To support our findings, subjective ratings and behavioral measures were also considered. (shrink)
The meaning and significance of Benjamin Libet’s studies on the timing of conscious will have been widely discussed, especially by those wishing to draw sceptical conclusions about conscious agency and free will. However, certain important correctives for thinking about mentalstates and processes undermine the apparent simplicity and logic of Libet’s data. The appropriateness, relevance and ecological validity of Libet’s methods are further undermined by considerations of how we ought to characterise intentional actions, conscious intention, and what it (...) means to act with conscious intent. Recent extensions of Libet’s paradigm using fMRI and decision-based tasks suffer from similar limitations. The result is that these sorts of laboratory studies of isolated, trivial, decontextualized bodily movements, in a context of extended (conscious) intentional experimental participation and cooperation, are of dubious and potentially misleading relevance to the study of agency. (shrink)
For Knobe, observers evaluate mentalstates by comparing agents' statements with the attitudes they are expected to hold. In our analysis, Knobe's model relies primarily on what agents should think, and little on expectancies of what they would think. We show the importance and complexity of including descriptive and prescriptive norms if one is to take expectancies seriously.
Several empirical studies have documented an asymmetry in people’s assessments of intentional action, so-called ‘Knobe effect’. Accordingly, foreseen (yet undesired) outcomes that are harmful are judged intentional, whereas foreseen (yet undesired) outcomes that are helpful are judged unintentional. The Knobe-effect has been standardly conceived of in bivalent terms: The presence or absence of perceived intentionality contingent on a negative or positive outcome valence. Unsurprisingly, explanations thereof have a similar bivalent structure: Intentionality ascriptions in Knobe-effect cases are viewed as contingent on (...) the presence or absence of a binary feature—a blameworthy agent, a norm violation, a morally bad outcome, and so on. In this paper, we report the results of two experiments exploring attributions of intentionality (and knowledge) across a range of graded outcomes: very bad, somewhat bad, neutral, somewhat good and very good. The findings suggest that the Knobe-effect data points are but two data points of a broader, more fine-grained phenomenon, and that Knobe effect explanations that have conceived of it in bivalent terms are at best incomplete. (shrink)
While Quine’s linguistic behaviorism is well-known, his Kant Lectures contain one of his most detailed discussions of behaviorism in psychology and the philosophy of mind. Quine clarifies the nature of his psychological commitments by arguing for a modest view that is against ‘excessively restrictive’ variants of behaviorism while maintaining ‘a good measure of behaviorist discipline…to keep [our mental] terms under control’. In this paper, I use Quine’s Kant Lectures to reconstruct his position. I distinguish three types of behaviorism in (...) psychology and the philosophy of mind: ontological behaviorism, logical behaviorism, and epistemological behaviorism. I then consider Quine’s perspective on each of these views and argue that he does not fully accept any of them. By combining these perspectives we arrive at Quine’s surprisingly subtle view about behaviorism in psychology. (shrink)
I present an argument that propositional attitudes are not mentalstates. In a nutshell, the argument is that if propositional attitudes are mentalstates, then only minded beings could have them; but there are reasons to think that some non-minded beings could bear propositional attitudes. To illustrate this, I appeal to cases of genuine group intentionality. I argue that these are cases in which some group entities bear propositional attitudes, but they are not subjects of (...) class='Hi'>mentalstates. Although propositional attitudes are not mentalstates, I propose that they are typically co-instantiated with mentalstates. In an attempt to explain this co-instantiation, I suggest that propositional attitudes of minded beings are typically realized by mentalstates. (shrink)
The dominant philosophical conceptions of obsessive-compulsive behavior present its subject as having a deficiency, usually characterized as volitional, due to which she lacks control and choice in acting. Compulsions (mental or physical) tend to be treated in isolation from the obsessive thoughts that give rise to them. I offer a different picture of compulsive action, one that is, I believe, more faithful to clinical reality. The clue to (most) obsessive-compulsive behavior seems to be the way obsessive thoughts, which are (...) grounded in an irrational cognitive style in matters of risk, danger, and responsibility, motivate compulsions through bizarre means–end reasoning. I show that the patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not weak and passive with regard to the compulsive act; rather, the act is voluntary and regarded by the patient as an instrument of control. I also defend the idea that OCD-related cognitions are either beliefs or mentalstates with relevantly similar functional roles. (shrink)
Traditional psychoanalysis relies on the presence of certain meaning-making capacities in the patient for its effectiveness. _Primitive Mental States_ examines how particular capacities including those for symbolising, fantasising, dreaming, experiencing and finding meanings in those experiences, can be taken for granted. Many of us lack these capacities in certain dimensions of our minds making traditional psychoanalysis ineffective. In this book, international contributors are brought together to consider a radical evolution in contemporary psychoanalytic theory developed from a combination of ultrasound (...) studies, infant analysis, and observation of mothers and babies. These findings demonstrate how much mental life exists even before birth and considers unevolved, unborn and barely born aspects of the self such as the birth of emotion and the birth of alpha functioning. Topics covered include: prenatal imprints on the mind and body difficult to treat patients non-verbal, non-symbolic, disembodied states of being early relational and attachment trauma. Illustrated throughout with original data and extensive clinical discussions from some of the biggest names in the field, _Primitive Mental States_ will be a useful resource for students and seasoned analysts alike. (shrink)