SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

An Argument for a minimal mental internalism
(Phiosophy of Mind, English)

In my paper I will argue that we must assume a minimal mental internalism in order to explain the cognitive significance of our mental states.
In order to defend my claim, I will consider a radically externalist position advocated by Robert Stalnaker and explain why this position leaves the content of our mental states undetermined in respects which are important to account for intentional action. Stalnaker holds three theses: (1) the content of our beliefs is determined by causal interactions with the environment, (2) to have a belief is to differentiate between different possible ways that the world might be, (3) in order to account for the contents of our mental states, we do not need to posit concepts or any kind of mental entities. I will argue that although both (1) and (2) are well-motivated postulates that a good theory of beliefs should accommodate, the causal account does not suffice to fix the content as it is defined pragmatically in (2). My argument rests on the claim that although the causal story determines which objects we represent, it does not fix how we represent them. As we know, we often think of the same object in different ways without realizing it. Lacking the knowledge that two concepts we entertain refer to the same object is of considerable cognitive significance. In such a case, we distinguish more possibilities than the mere causal story can account for.
Focusing on the indexical aspect of many of our beliefs, I will show that we need to accept a minimal internalist position, according to which the way we think about objects is an internal fact and it partially fixes the content of our mental states. While it accommodates the intuition that the external world and our causal interactions with it put a constraint on the contents that we might have, it differs from externalism in claiming that these external factors do not fully determine the contents of our mental states.

Chair: Franz Altner
Time: 10:35-11:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.004

Maria Matuszkiewicz 
(University of Warsaw, Poland)

I am a graduate student at the University of Warsaw. My PhD thesis concerns singular contents and their role in psychological explanation.

Testability and Meaning deco