SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Unconscious Interaction as a Necessary Condition for Belief States
(Philosophy of Mind, )

A According to the Extended Mind thesis (EMT) certain mental states and processes can include, as constituents, parts of the world that are outside our body. Clark and Chalmers (CC) formed EMT with some thought experiments. In one of them we are asked to imagine the following: Otto suffers from memory loss and stores information in a notebook to serve the function of his memory and Inga in contrast has a normally functioning memory (1998, 13). CC argues that Otto's notebook could realize the same belief states as Inga's biological memory. Different from Inga's beliefs, Otto's beliefs extend partially into his notebook. This argument relies on: (1) functionalism about beliefs and (2) the parity principle. According the these two principles, if we accept that an internal belief state is functionally exactly alike with an extended belief state, it follows that we are also accepting EMT. Framed in this way, this is a valid argument. Yet, one of the antecedents is very problematic: the view that they are functionally exactly alike. In this paper, I argue that the functional role played by an internal belief state cannot be realized by an extended belief state, because extended belief states cannot unconsciously interact with other mental states of an individual as internal belief states do. By analyzing the thought experiment CC put forward for EMT regarding belief states, I will discuss how they ignore that internal belief states have complex dispositional profiles connected with the other mental states of an individual which cannot be realized by an extended belief state. My view is based on the functionalist idea that belief states form a complex network of dispositional connections that possesses an unconscious structure. Without being part of this network and having this kind of structure an extended belief state cannot function in the same way an internal belief state functions.

Chair: Martin Niederl
Time: 16:50-17:20, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.005

Pelin Kasar  
(Central European University, )



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