Why implicit attitudes are (probably) not beliefs
Should we understand implicit attitudes on the model of belief? I argue that implicit attitudes are (probably) members of a different psychological kind altogether, because they seem to be insensitive to the logical form of an agent’s thoughts and perceptions. A state is sensitive to logical form only if it is sensitive to the logical constituents of the content of other states (e.g., operators like negation and conditional). I explain sensitivity to logical form and argue that it is a necessary condition for belief. I appeal to two areas of research that seem to show that implicit attitudes fail spectacularly to satisfy this condition—although persistent gaps in the empirical literature leave matters inconclusive. I sketch an alternative account, according to which implicit attitudes are sensitive merely to spatiotemporal relations in thought and perception, i.e., the spatial and temporal orders in which people think, see, or hear things.
KeywordsLogical Form Implementation Intention Implicit Attitude Implicit Bias Explicit Attitude
This essay was revised during my Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently with institutional support from Vassar College. For insightful comments on earlier drafts or lively debates about the ideas in this paper, I am indebted to Alejandro Arango, Charles Michael Brent, Michael Brownstein, Taylor Carman, Guillermo del Pinal, Andrew Franklin-Hall, Katie Gasdaglis, Bertram Gawronski, Tamar Szabó Gendler, Lydia Goehr, Brian Kim, Patricia Kitcher, Felix Koch, Chloe Layman, Eric Mandelbaum, Christia Mercer, Nate Meyvis, John Morrison, Matthew Moss, Marco Nathan, Andreja Novakovic, Christiana Olfert, Katherine Rickus, David Rosenthal, Michael Seifried, Beau Shaw, Susanna Siegel, Virginia Valian, Anubav Vasudevan, Sebastian Watzl, and several anonymous referees. Thanks also to audiences at Columbia University and the Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Atlanta, December 2012.
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