Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 194, Issue 8, pp 3005–3020 | Cite as

Why broad content can’t influence behaviour

Article
  • 299 Downloads

Abstract

This article examines one argument in favour of the position that the relational properties of mental states do not have causal powers over behaviour. This argument states that we establish that the relational properties of mental states do not have causal powers by considering cases where intrinsic properties remain the same but relational properties vary to see whether, under such circumstances, behaviour would ever vary. The individualist argues that behaviour will not vary with relational properties alone, which means that they don’t have causal powers. Four replies are presented which all reject the premise that under such conditions behaviour can never be different, and each of these are refuted. The paper concludes by arguing that knowing about the relational properties of mental states gives no predictive advantage over (and, in fact, is predictively worse than) knowing about the intrinsic properties of mental states plus context.

Keywords

Individualism Relational properties Mental content Behaviour Causal powers 

References

  1. Adams, F. R. (1993). Fodor’s modal argument. Philosophical Psychology, 6(1), 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burge, T. (1979). Individualism and the mental. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 4(1), 73–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burge, T. (1988). Individualism and self-knowledge. Journal of Philosophy, 85, 649–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burge, T. (1989). Individuation and causation in psychology. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 707(4), 303–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. J. (Ed.). (2002). The components of content. In D. J. Chalmers (Ed.), Philosophy of mind: Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 608–633). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Davidson, D. (1987). Knowing one’s own mind. In Proceedings and addresses of the American Philosophical Association (Vol. 60, pp. 441–458).Google Scholar
  7. Egan, F. (1991). Must psychology be individualistic? Philosophical Review, 100(2), 179–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans, G. (1982). In J. McDowell (Ed.), The varieties of reference. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  9. Farkas, K. (2008). The subject’s point of view. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fodor, J. A. (1987). Psychosemantics: The problem of meaning in the philosophy of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Georgalis, N. (2015). Mind, language and subjectivity: Minimal content and the theory of thought. Cambridge, MA: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Jacob, P. (2002). Can mental content explain behavior? In A. M. Galaburda, S. M. Kosslyn, & Y. Christen (Eds.), Languages of the brain (pp. 91–101). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kripke, S. (1981). Naming and necessity. Maldon, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Loar, B. (1985). Social content and psychological content. In A. Pessin & S. Goldberg (Eds.). (1996). The Twin Earth chronicles: Twenty years of reflection on Hilary Putnam’s “The meaning of ‘meaning”’ (pp. 180–191). New York: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  15. Mendola, J. (2008). Anti-externalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Molyneux, B. (2007). Primeness, internalism and explanatory generality. Philosophical Studies, 135(2), 255–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Peacocke, C. (1981). Demonstrative thought and psychological explanation. Synthese, 49(2), 187–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Putnam, H. (1975). The meaning of meaning. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 7, 131–193.Google Scholar
  19. Segal, G. M. A. (2000). A slim book about narrow content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Williamson, T. (2000). Knowledge and its limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

Personalised recommendations