Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best (...) scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states. (shrink)
Questions about the transparency of evidence are central to debates between factive and non-factive versions of mentalism about evidence. If all evidence is transparent, then factive mentalism is false, since no factive mental states are transparent. However, Timothy Williamson has argued that transparency is a myth and that no conditions are transparent except trivial ones. This paper responds by drawing a distinction between doxastic and epistemic notions of transparency. Williamson's argument may show that no conditions are doxastically transparent, (...) but it fails to show that no conditions are epistemically transparent. Moreover, this reinstates the argument from the transparency of evidence against factive mentalism. (shrink)
Earl Conee and Richard Feldman claim that mentalism identifies the core of internalist epistemology. This is what I call identifying ur-internalism. Their version of ur-internalism differs from the traditional one ? viz., accessibilism ? by not imposing requirements stipulating that subjects must have reflective access to facts which justify their beliefs for these beliefs to be justified. Instead, justification simply supervenes on the mental lives of subjects. I argue that mentalism fails to establish itself as ur-internalism by demonstrating (...) that the strong supervenience claim used by Conee and Feldman is consistent with cognitive externalism (often called ?the extended mind hypothesis?). Briefly, cognitive externalism claims that the mental states themselves (rather than their contents) constitutively depend on factors outside the bodily individual. Given this possibility, I claim Conee and Feldman's supervenience principle no longer suits the purposes to which they put it. (shrink)
Michael Bergmann seeks to motivate his externalist, proper function theory of epistemic justification by providing three objections to the mentalism and mentalist evidentialism characteristic of nonexternalists such as Richard Feldman and Earl Conee. Bergmann argues that (i) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that justification depends on mental states; (ii) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of an epistemic input to a belief-forming process must be due to an essential feature of (...) that input, and, relatedly, that mentalist evidentialism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of doxastic response B to evidence E is an essential property of B–E; and (iii) mentalist evidentialism is “unmotivated”. I object to each argument. The argument for (i) begs the question. The argument for (ii) suffers from the fact that mentalist evidentialists are not committed to the consequences claimed for them; nevertheless, I show that there is, in the neighborhood, a substantive dispute concerning the nature of doxastic epistemic fittingness. That dispute involves what I call “Necessary Fittingness”, the view that, necessarily, exactly one (at most) doxastic attitude ( belief , or disbelief , or suspension of judgment ) toward a proposition is epistemically fitting with respect to a person’s total evidence at any time. Reflection on my super-blooper epistemic design counterexamples to Bergmann’s proper function theory reveals both the plausibility of Necessary Fittingness and a good reason to deny (iii). Mentalist evidentialism is thus vindicated against the objections. (shrink)
In order to fulfil their essential roles as the bearers of truth and the relata of logical relations, propositions must be public and shareable. That requirement has favoured Platonist and other nonmental views of them, despite the well-known problems of Platonism in general. Views that propositions are mental entities have correspondingly fallen out of favour, as they have difficulty in explaining how propositions could have shareable, objective properties. We revive a mentalist view of propositions, inspired by Artificial Intelligence work on (...) perceptual algorithms, which shows how perception causes persistent mental entities with shareable properties that allow them to fulfil the traditional roles of (one core kind of) propositions. The clustering algorithms implemented in perception produce outputs which are (implicit) atomic propositions in different minds. Coordination of them across minds proceeds by game-theoretic processes of communication. The account does not rely on any unexplained notions such as mental content, representation, or correspondence (although those notions are applicable in philosophical analysis of the result). (shrink)
The mentalist mind-brain model is defended against alleged weaknesses. I argue that the perceived failings are based mostly on misinterpretation of mentalism and emergent interaction. Considering the paradigmatic concepts at issue and broad implications, I try to better clarify the misread mentalist view, adding more inclusive detail, relevant background, further analysis, and comparing its foundational concepts with those of the new cognitive paradigm in psychology. A changed "emergent interactionist" form of causation is posited that combines traditional microdeterminism with emergent (...) "top-down" control. This emergent form of causation has wide application to causal explanation in general and is hypothesized to be the key common precursor for the consciousness revolution and subsequent boom in new worldviews, "systems thinking," emerging new paradigms, and other transformative developments of the 1970s and 1980s. (shrink)
I argue that the following theses are both popular among evidentialists but also jointly inconsistent with evidentialism: 1) Time-Slice Mentalism: one’s justificational properties at t are grounded only by one’s mental properties at t; 2) Experience Ultimacy: all ultimate evidence is experiential; and 3) Sleep Justification: we have justified beliefs while we have dreamless, nonexperiential sleep. Although I intend for this paper to be a polemic against evidentialists, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for them to clarify (...) their views. Furthermore, the paper is not only relevant to evidentialists. For example, the arguments of this paper could give Time-Slice Mentalists a reason to deny evidentialism. (shrink)
Mentalism (Dulany 1991; 1997) provides a metatheoretical alternative to the dominant cognitive view. This commentary briefly outlines its main propositions and what I see as strategies for its use and support at this stage. These propositions represent conscious states as the sole carriers of symbolic representations, and mental episodes as consisting exclusively of conscious states interrelated by nonconscious operations.
The target article addresses important empirical issues, but adopts a nonanalytic stance toward consciousness and presents the mentalistic view as a very radical position that rules out informational description of anything other than conscious mental states. A better mentalistic strategy is to show how the structure of some informational states is both constitutive of consciousness and necessary for psychological functions.
The present paper examines three issues from the perspective of Skinner's radical behaviorism: the nature of mentalism, the relation between behaviorism and mentalism, and the nature of behavioristic objections to mentalism. Mentalism is characterized as a particular orientation to the explanation of behavior that entails an appeal to inner causes. Methodological and radical behaviorism are examined with respect to this definition, and methodological behaviorism is held to be mentalistic by virtue of its implicit appeal to mental (...) phenomena in the account of how knowledge is gained from scientific endeavors. Finally, it is noted that the behavioristic objection to mentalism is pragmatic: mentalism interferes with the effective explanation of behavioral events. (shrink)
Gao presents a new mentalistic reformulation of the well-known measurement problem affecting the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. According to this author, it is essentially a determinate-experience problem, namely a problem about the compatibility between the linearity of the Schrödinger’s equation, the fundamental law of quantum theory, and definite experiences perceived by conscious observers. In this essay I aim to clarify that the well-known measurement problem is a mathematical consequence of quantum theory’s formalism, and that its mentalistic variant does not (...) grasp the relevant causes which are responsible for this puzzling issue. The first part of this paper will be concluded claiming that the “physical” formulation of the measurement problem cannot be reduced to its mentalistic version. In the second part of this work it will be shown that, contrary to the case of quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics and GRW theories provide clear explanations of the physical processes responsible for the definite localization of macroscopic objects and, consequently, for well-defined perceptions of measurement outcomes by conscious observers. More precisely, the macro-objectification of states of experimental devices is obtained exclusively in virtue of their clear ontologies and dynamical laws without any intervention of human observers. Hence, it will be argued that in these theoretical frameworks the measurement problem and the determinate-experience problem are logically distinct issues. (shrink)
Sellars’ verbal behaviorism demands that linguistic episodes be conceptual in an underivative sense and his theoretical mentalism that thoughts as postulated theoretical entities be modelled on linguistic behaviors. Marras has contended that Sellars’ own methodology requires that semantic categories be theoretical. Thus linguistic behaviors can be conceptual in only a derivative sense. Further he claims that overt linguistic behaviors cannot serve as a model for all thought because thought is primarily symbolic. I support verbal behaviorism by showing that semantic (...) categories are in the first instance teleological explanatory categories and consequently can be observational. And I show how theoretical mentalism can be maintained even though thought is primarily symbolic. (shrink)
Conceptual foundations for the changeover from behaviorism to mentalism are reviewed in an effort to better clarify frequently contested and misinterpreted features. The new mentalist tenets which I continue to support have been differently conceived to be a form of dualism, mind-brain identity theory, functionalism, nonreductive physical monism, dualist interactionism, emergent interactionism, and various other things. This diversity and contradiction are attributed to the fact that the new mentalist paradigm is a distinctly new position that fails to fit traditional (...) philosophic dichotomies. Formerly opposed features from previous polar alternatives become merged into a novel unifying synthesis, an unambiguous description of which demands redefinition of old terms or/and the invention of new terminology. The present analysis and interpretation are backed by statements from the early papers. (shrink)
ABSTRACTCarnap famously argued that there are two kinds of questions and claims concerning the existence or reality of entities: internal and external ones. We focus on Carnapian external ontological claims of the form: ‘Xs really exist’, where ‘X’ stands for some traditional metaphysical category, such as ‘substance’, ‘fact’ or ‘structure’. While Carnap considered them as meaningless, we consider them as faultlessly meaningful. However, in line with an expressivist guise, we do not claim that they have the meaning they have in (...) virtue of representing a certain range of entities in the world or describing pieces of reality. Quite the contrary, we maintain that they are meaningful because they perform a function that is fundamentally expressive, that is, a non-descriptive function. In particular, they may imply a distinctive type of metalinguistic expressive function. Moreover, we avoid accuses of mentalism insofar as we explain the meaning of external ontological claims in terms of the practical commitments to the adoption of certain linguistic forms they express, rather than as expressing some kind of mental state. (shrink)
Intentional Mentalism is the view that mental intentionality is primary to non-mental intentionality and that the latter is derived from the former. In this article I examine three views which have been taken to motivate Intentional Mentalism: conventionalism as invoked by Searle, Gricean pragmatism, and the language of thought hypothesis. I argue that none of these views motivates Intentional Mentalism, and that, in fact, the former two imply its rejection.
Introducing his paper, Slezak (p. 428) proposes “to examine Botha's criticisms in detail with a view to demonstrating that they are without foundation and are based on the most fundamental misunderstandings”. Concluding his paper, Slezak (p. 439) expresses the hope that he has shown “that the conceptions on which these criticisms rest are so seriously flawed as to make it unprofitable to attempt to unravel the rest of his analysis”. These formulations, by all standards, represent rather strong rhetoric. But, as (...) the preceding paragraphs have shown, Slezak's discussion sadly lacks the relevant and accurate analyses needed to give substance to his rhetoric. (shrink)
In this paper I present an internal difficulty for the hypothesis that mentalistic explanation is causal explanation. My thesis is that intuitively acceptable mentalistic explanations appear to violate constraints imposed by the mental causation hypothesis.
Over the last several decades, there has been a wealth of illuminating work on processes implicated in social cognition. Much less has been done in articulating how we learn the contours of particular concepts deployed in social cognition, like the concept MENTALISTIC AGENT. Recent developments in learning theory afford new tools for approaching these questions. In this article, I describe some rudimentary ways in which learning theoretic considerations can illuminate philosophically important aspects of the MENTALISTIC AGENT concept. I maintain that (...) MENTALISTIC AGENT is an essentialized concept and that learning-theoretic considerations help explain why the concept is not tied to particular traits. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to connect the traditional epistemological issue of justification with what one might call the “new reasons paradigm” coming from the philosophy of action and metaethics. More specifically, I will show that Conee and Feldman’s mentalism, a version of internalism about justification, can profitably be spelled out in terms of subjective normative reasons. On the way to achieving this aim, I will argue that it is important to ask not just the oft-discussed ontological question (...) about epistemic reasons—what kind of entities are they?—but also: Reasons in which sense are fundamental to justification? (shrink)
In a strictly deterministic universe a Laplacian superman undertakes to predict if a certain ongoing Turing machine will ever halt. Well, he may predict that the machine will be struck by lightning tomorrow but Judson Webb invites us to "idealize" the case sufficiently so that it is not any lack of physical knowledge that stymies the Laplacian superman but rather the negative result of Turing's metamathematical or formal "indeterminacy" that suggests to Webb a the-Turing machines are thus seen to enjoy (...) a certain sort of "indeterminacy" or "unpredictability" which, while not physical in character, might readily be styled metamathematical. It is precisely that metamathematical or formal "indeterminacy" that suggests to Webb a theoretical basis for overcoming the traditional dichotomy of mind and mechanism. The ostensibly negative results of Turing, Gödel, and Church, far from showing that minds cannot possibly be machines, Webb interprets positively as supplying us with rich instructions as to what sort of unpredictable machines we have right to expect them to be. (shrink)
Behaviorism and mentalism are commonly considered to be mutually exclusive and conjunctively exhaustive options for the psychological explanation of behavior. Behaviorism and mentalism do differ in their characterization of inner causes of behavior. However, I argue that they are not mutually exclusive on the grounds that they share important foundational assumptions, two of which are the notion of an innerouter split and the notion of control. I go on to argue that mentalism and behaviorism are not conjunctively (...) exhaustive either, on the grounds that dropping these common foundational assumptions results in a distinctively different framework for the explanation of behavior. This third alternative, which is briefly described, is a version of non-individualism. (shrink)