Disbelieving the Normativity of Content
Adherents as well as detractors of the normativity of mental content agree that its assessment crucially depends on the assessment of a principle for believing what is true. In this paper, I present an alternative principle, which is based on possession conditions for pure thinking or mere entertaining. I argue that the alternative approach has not been sufficiently emphasised in the literature and has two important merits. First, it yields a direct analysis of the normativity of mental content, which is, furthermore, independent of arguably non-normative notions such as truth. Second, the approach suggests new and challenging lines of response to central non-normativist objections.
KeywordsMental content Normativity of content Normativity of belief Inferential role semantics Possession conditions
I would like to thank Åsa Wikforss, an anonymous referee for Acta Analytica, Javier González de Prado and the audiences of the 2012 ESPP and SLMFCE conferences, held in London and Santiago de Compostela respectively, for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this material. This work has received financial support from the Spanish government, through the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (research projects FFI2009-08828/FISO and FFI2012-35153) and from the Catalan government, via the consolidated research group GRECC (SGR2009-1528).
- Boghossian, P. A. (2005). Is meaning normative? In A. Beckermann & C. Nimtz (Eds.), Philosophy–science–scientific philosophy (pp. 205–218). Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
- Brandom, R. (1994). Making it explicit. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Fodor, J. A. (1998). Concepts. Where cognitive science went wrong. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Kripke, S. (1982). Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Peacocke, C. (1992). A study of concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Wedgwood, R. (2002). The aim of belief. Philosophical Perspectives, 16(s16), 267–297.Google Scholar
- Wedgwood, R. (2009). The normativity of the intentional. In B. P. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, & S. Walter (Eds.), Oxford handbook of the philosophy of mind (pp. 421–436). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar