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2.2c. Externalism and Psychological Explanation (Externalism and Psychological Explanation on PhilPapers)

See also:
Arjo, D. (1996). Sticking up for oedipus: Fodor on intentional generalizations and broad content. Mind and Language 11 (3):231-45.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat & Robbins, P. (2001). Are Frege cases exceptions to intentional generalizations? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):1-22.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Abstract: Let's assume there are psychological generalizations that the folk rely upon in explaining and predicting the behavior of their fellows. Let's further assume these generalizations are intentional, in that they do their explanatory and predictive work by attributing to the subjects in their domain intentional mental states such as beliefs, desires, and the like. Then we can define a broad intentional psychology as one that adverts only to broad, viz. purely denotational/truth-conditional, mental contents in its generalizations; so the sentences expressing its generalizations should be transparently read. A narrow psychology is one that is not so restricted. [1] Accordingly, the sentences expressing narrow generalizations will contain opaque contexts, indicated by `that'-clauses (`believes that ...', `desires that ...', and the like). Here is an example of the sort of generalization we have in mind:
(G) If S desires that P and believes that S can bring it about that P, then, ceteris paribus, S will try
to bring it about that P.
In recent years, the question of whether such generalizations are broad or narrow has received considerable attention in philosophy of psychology. The general consensus among theorists has been that because generalizations like (G) are false when construed transparently, intentional psychology cannot be broad. For example, when read transparently, (G) seems to be falsified by Oedipus's story. Oedipus wished not to marry Mom and believed that he could achieve this, yet he did not avoid marrying her -- on the contrary. So Oedipus satisfied the antecedent and flouted the consequent of (G). In this way, Frege puzzles have served to motivate a narrow intentional psychology, where the intentional properties attributed to mental states are individuated more finely than denotations or truth-conditions
Bach, Kent (1982). "De re" belief and methodological solipsism. In Andrew Woodfield (ed.), Thought And Object: Essays On Intentionality. Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 21 | Google)
Bilgrami, Akeel (1987). An externalist account of psychological content. Philosophical Topics 15 (1):191-226.   (Cited by 8 | Annotation | Google)
Buller, David J. (1997). Individualism and evolutionary psychology (or: In defense of "narrow" functions). Philosophy of Science 64 (1):74-95.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Millikan and Wilson argue, for different reasons, that the essential reference to the environment in adaptationist explanations of behavior makes (psychological) individualism inconsistent with evolutionary psychology. I show that their arguments are based on misinterpretations of the role of reference to the environment in such explanations. By exploring these misinterpretations, I develop an account of explanation in evolutionary psychology that is fully consistent with individualism. This does not, however, constitute a full-fledged defense of individualism, since evolutionary psychology is only one explanatory paradigm among many in psychology
Buller, David J. (1992). "Narrow"-mindedness breeds inaction. Behavior and Philosophy 20 (1):59-70.   (Google)
Burge, Tyler (1986). Individualism and psychology. Philosophical Review 95 (January):3-45.   (Cited by 186 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Burge, Tyler (1982). Two thought experiments reviewed. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23 (July):284-94.   (Cited by 16 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Corazza, Eros (1994). Perspectival thoughts and psychological generalizations. Dialectica 48 (3-4):307-36.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Crawford, Sean (1998). In defence of object-dependent thoughts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (2):201-210.   (Google | More links)
Crawford, Sean (2003). Relational properties, causal powers and psychological laws. Acta Analytica 18 (30-31):193-216.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper argues that Twin Earth twins belong to the same psychological natural kind, but that the reason for this is not that the causal powers of mental states supervene on local neural structure. Fodor’s argument for this latter thesis is criticized and found to rest on a confusion between it and the claim that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect the causal powers of the mental states that have them. While it is true that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect causal powers, it is false that no relational psychological properties do. Examples of relational psychological properties that do affect causal powers are given and psychological laws are sketched that subsume twins in virtue of them instantiating these relational properties rather than them sharing the narrow contents of their thoughts
Davies, Martin (1986). Individualism and supervenience: Externality, psychological explanation, and narrow content. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 263:263-283.   (Google)
Dretske, Fred (2001). Where is the mind? In Anthonie W. M. Meijers (ed.), Explaining Beliefs. Csli.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Dretske, Fred (1992). What isn't wrong with folk psychology. Metaphilosophy 23 (1-2):1-13.   (Cited by 8 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Egan, Frances (1991). Must psychology be individualistic? Philosophical Review 100 (April):179-203.   (Cited by 18 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1982). Cognitive science and the twin-earth problem. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23 (April):98-118.   (Cited by 23 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1980). Methodological solipsism as a research strategy in cognitive psychology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3:63-109.   (Cited by 225 | Annotation | Google)
Frances, Bryan (1999). On the explanatory deficiencies of linguistic content. Philosophical Studies 93 (1):45-75.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: The Burge-Putnam thought experiments have generated the thesis that beliefs are not fixed by the constitution of the body. However, many philosophers have thought that if this is true then there must be another content-like property. Even if the contents of our attitudes such as the one in ‘believes that aluminum is a light metal’, do not supervene on our physical makeups, nevertheless people who are physical duplicates must be the same when it comes to evaluating their rationality and explaining their actions. I argue that the considerations motivating this view are best handled with just the ordinary ‘that’-clause contents.
Gauker, Christopher (1987). Mind and chance. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (September):533-52.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Globus, Gordon G. (1984). Can methodological solipsism be confined to psychology? Cognition and Brain Theory 7:233-46.   (Annotation | Google)
Hardcastle, Valerie Gray (1997). [Explanation] is explanation better. Philosophy of Science 64 (1):154-60.   (Google | More links)
Jacob, Pierre (online). Belief attribution and rationality: A dilemma for Jerry Fodor.   (Google | More links)
Jacob, Pierre (2002). Can mental content explain behavior? In Languages of the Brain.   (Google | More links)
Jacob, Pierre (1993). Externalism and the explanatory relevance of broad content. Mind and Language 8 (1):131-156.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Kitcher, P. S. (1985). Narrow taxonomy and wide functionalism. Philosophy of Science 52 (March):78-97.   (Cited by 13 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kobes, Bernard W. (1989). Semantics and psychological prototypes. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 70 (March):1-18.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google)
Losonsky, Michael (1995). Emdedded systems vs. individualism. Minds and Machines 5 (3):357-71.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   The dispute between individualism and anti-individualism is about the individuation of psychological states, and individualism, on some accounts, is committed to the claim that psychological subjects together with their environments do not constitute integrated computational systems. Hence on this view the computational states that explain psychological states in computational accounts of mind will not involve the subject''s natural and social environment. Moreover, the explanation of a system''s interaction with the environment is, on this view, not the primary goal of computational theorizing. Recent work in computational developmental psychology (by A. Karmiloff-Smith and J. Rutkowska) as well as artificial agents or embedded artificial systems (by L.P. Kaelbling, among others) casts doubt on these claims. In these computational models, the environment does not just trigger and sustain input for computational operations, but some computational operations actually involve environmental structures
Macdonald, Cynthia (1995). Anti-individualism and psychological explanation. In C. Macdonald (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology: Debates on Psychological Explanation. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Google)
Macdonald, Cynthia (1992). Weak externalism and psychological reduction. In David Charles & Kathleen Lennon (eds.), Reduction, Explanation and Realism. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Maloney, J. Christopher (1985). Methodological solipsism reconsidered as a research strategy in cognitive psychology. Philosophy of Science 52 (September):451-69.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Marras, Ausonio (1985). The churchlands on methodological solipsism and computational psychology. Philosophy of Science 52 (June):295-309.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
McClamrock, Ron (1995). Existential Cognition: Computational Minds in the World. University of Chicago Press.   (Cited by 88 | Google | More links)
Abstract: While the notion of the mind as information-processor--a kind of computational system--is widely accepted, many scientists and philosophers have assumed that this account of cognition shows that the mind's operations are characterizable independent of their relationship to the external world. Existential Cognition challenges the internalist view of mind, arguing that intelligence, thought, and action cannot be understood in isolation, but only in interaction with the outside world. Arguing that the mind is essentially embedded in the external world, Ron McClamrock provides a schema that allows cognitive scientists to address such long-standing problems in artificial intelligence as the "frame" problem and the issue of "bounded" rationality. Extending this schema to cover progress in other studies of behavior, including language, vision, and action, McClamrock reinterprets the importance of the organism/environment distinction. McClamrock also considers the broader philosophical question of the place of mind in the world, particularly with regard to questions of intentionality, subjectivity, and phenomenology. With implications for philosophy, cognitive and computer science, AI, and psychology, this book synthesizes state-of-the-art work in philosophy and cognitive science on how the mind interacts with the world to produce thoughts, ideas, and actions
McClamrock, Ron (1991). Methodological individualism considered as a constitutive principle of scientific inquiry. Philosophical Psychology 4:343-54.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Abstract: The issue of methodological solipsism in the philosophy of mind and psychology has received enormous attention and discussion in the decade since the appearance Jerry Fodor's "Methodological Solipsism" [Fodor 1980]. But most of this discussion has focused on the consideration of the now infamous "Twin Earth" type examples and the problems they present for Fodor's notion of "narrow content". I think there is deeper and more general moral to be found in this issue, particularly in light of Fodor's more recent defense of his view in Psychosemantics [Fodor 1987]. Underlying this discussion are questions about the nature and plausibility of the claim that scientific explanation should observe a constraint of methodological individualism . My goal in what follows is to bring out this more general problem in Fodor's "internalist" account of the mental
Molyneux, Bernard (2007). Primeness, internalism and explanatory generality. Philosophical Studies 135 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Williamson (2000) [Knowledge and its Limits, Oxford: Oxford University Press] argues that attempts to substitute narrow mental states or narrow/environmental composites for broad and factive mental states will result in poorer explanations of behavior. I resist Williamson
Neander, Karen (ms). The narrow and the normative.   (Google)
Noonan, Harold W. (1984). Methodological solipsism: A reply to Morris. Philosophical Studies 48 (September):285-290.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Noonan, Harold W. (1990). Object-dependent thoughts and psychological redundancy. Analysis 50 (January):1-9.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Noonan, Harold W. (1993). Object-dependent thoughts: A case of superficial necessity but deep contingency? In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google)
Noonan, Harold W. (1986). Russellian thoughts and methodological solipsism. In Jeremy Butterfield (ed.), Language, Mind, and Logic. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 9 | Google)
Owens, Joseph (1994). Psychological externalism and psychological explanation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (4):921-928.   (Google | More links)
Paprzycka, Katarzyna (2002). False consciousness of intentional psychology. Philosophical Psychology 15 (3):271-295.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: According to explanatory individualism, every action must be explained in terms of an agent's desire. According to explanatory nonindividualism, we sometimes act on our desires, but it is also possible for us to act on others' desires without acting on desires of our own. While explanatory nonindividualism has guided the thinking of many social scientists, it is considered to be incoherent by most philosophers of mind who insist that actions must be explained ultimately in terms of some desire of the agent. In the first part of the paper, I show that some powerful arguments designed to demonstrate the incoherence of explanatory nonindividualism fail. In the second part of the paper, I offer a nonindividualist explanation of the apparent obviousness of belief-desire psychology. I argue that there are two levels of the intelligibility of our actions. On the more fundamental (explanatory) level, the question "Why did the agent do something?" admits a variety of folk-psychological categories. But there is another (formation-of-self) level, at which the same question admits only of answers that ultimately appeal only to the agent's own desires. Explanatory individualism results from the confusion of the two levels
Patterson, Sarah (1991). Individualism and semantic development. Philosophy of Science 58 (March):15-35.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Patterson, Sarah (1990). The explanatory role of belief ascriptions. Philosophical Studies 59 (3):313-32.   (Cited by 11 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1993). Externalist explanation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 67:203-30.   (Cited by 17 | Annotation | Google)
Perry, John (1998). Broadening the mind. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (1):223-231.   (Google | More links)
Pettit, Philip (1986). Broad-minded explanation and psychology. In Philip Pettit & John McDowell (eds.), Subject, Thought and Context. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Petrie, Bradford (1990). Nonautonomous psychology. Southern Journal of Philosophy 28:539-59.   (Annotation | Google)
Rives, Bradley (2009). Concept cartesianism, concept pragmatism, and Frege cases. Philosophical Studies 144 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper concerns the dialectal role of Frege Cases in the debate between Concept Cartesians and Concept Pragmatists. I take as a starting point Christopher Peacocke’s argument that, unlike Cartesianism, his ‘Fregean’ Pragmatism can account for facts about the rationality and epistemic status of certain judgments. I argue that since this argument presupposes that the rationality of thoughts turn on their content, it is thus question-begging against Cartesians, who claim that issues about rationality turn on the form, not the content, of thoughts. I then consider Jerry Fodor’s argument that ‘modes of presentation’ are not identical with Fregean senses, and argue that explanatory considerations should leads us to reject his ‘syntactic’ treatment of Frege cases. Rejecting the Cartesian treatment of Frege cases, however, is not tantamount to accepting Peacocke’s claim that reasons and rationality are central to the individuation of concepts. For I argue that we can steer a middle course between Fodor’s Cartesianism and Peacocke’s Pragmatism, and adopt a form of Pragmatism that is constrained by Fregean considerations, but at the same time denies that concepts are constitutively tied to reasons and rationality
Rowlands, Mark (1995). Against methodological solipsism: The ecological approach. Philosophical Psychology 8 (1):5-24.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Abstract: This paper argues that an ecological approach to psychology of the sort advanced by J. J. Gibson provides a coherent and powerful alternative to the computational, information-processing, paradigm. The paper argues for two principles. Firstly, one cannot begin to understand what internal information processing an organism must accomplish until one understands what information is available to the organism in its environment. Secondly, an organism can process information by acting on or manipulating physical structures in its environment. An attempt is made to show how these principles can be extended to cognition as a whole. It is suggested that these principles may have a foundation in evolutionary biology
Rowlands, Mark (1991). Towards a reasonable version of methodological solipsism. Mind and Language 6:39-57.   (Google | More links)
Russow, Lilly-Marlene (1987). Stich on the foundations of cognitive psychology. Synthese 70 (March):401-413.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Sawyer, Sarah (2006). The role of object-dependent content in psychological explanation. Teorema 25 (1):181-192.   (Google)
Segal, Gabriel (1989). The return of the individual. Mind 98 (January):39-57.   (Cited by 22 | Google | More links)
Sterelny, Kim (1990). Animals and individualism. In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Google)
Stecker, Robert A.; Adams, Max F. & Fuller, Gary (1999). Object dependent thoughts, perspectival thoughts, and psychological generalization. Dialectica 53 (1):47-59.   (Google)
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Wakefield, Jerome C. (2002). Broad versus narrow content in the explanation of action: Fodor on Frege cases. Philosophical Psychology 15 (2):119-33.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A major obstacle to formulating a broad-content intentional psychology is the occurrence of ''Frege cases'' - cases in which a person apparently believes or desires Fa but not Fb and acts accordingly, even though "a" and "b" have the same broad content. Frege cases seem to demand narrow-content distinctions to explain actions by the contents of beliefs and desires. Jerry Fodor ( The elm and the expert: Mentalese and its semantics , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994) argues that an explanatorily adequate broad-content psychology is nonetheless possible because Frege cases rarely occur in intentional-explanatory contexts, and they are not systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that demands intentional explanation. Thus, he claims, behaviors associated with Frege cases can be considered ceteris-paribus exceptions to broad-content intentional laws without significantly decreasing the explanatory power of intentional psychology. I argue that Frege cases are plentiful and systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that requires intentional explanation, specifically in the explanation of why certain actions are not performed. Consequently, Frege-case behaviors cannot be construed as ceteris-paribus exceptions to intentional laws without significantly eroding the explanatory power of intentional psychology and reducing the rationality of the agent. Fodor thus fails to save broad-content psychology from the prima facie objections against it based on Frege cases
Wallace, J. & Mason, H. E. (1990). On some thought experiments about mind and meaning. In C. Anthony Anderson & Joseph Owens (eds.), Propositional Attitudes. Csli.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Wilson, Robert A. (1994). Causal depth, theoretical appropriateness, and individualism in psychology. Philosophy of Science 61 (1):55-75.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Wilson, Robert A. (1995). Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds: Individualism and the Sciences of the Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 58 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This book offers the first sustained critique of individualism in psychology, a view that has been the subject of debate between philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tyler Burge for many years. The author approaches individualism as an issue in the philosophy of science and by discussing issues such as computationalism and the mind's modularity he opens the subject up for non-philosophers in psychology and computer science. Professor Wilson carefully examines the most influential arguments for individualism and identifies the main metaphysical assumptions underlying them. Since the topic is so central to the philosophy of mind, a discipline generating enormous research and debate at present, the book has implications for a very broad range of philosophical issues including the naturalisation of intentionality, psychophysical supervenience, the nature of mental causation, and the viability of folk psychology
Wilson, Robert A. (2004). Recent work on individualism in the social, behavioural, and biological sciences. Biology and Philosophy 19 (3):397-423.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The social, behavioral, and a good chunk of the biological sciences concern the nature of individual agency, where our paradigm for an individual is a human being. Theories of economic behavior, of mental function and dysfunction, and of ontogenetic development, for example, are theories of how such individuals act, and of what internal and external factors are determinative of that action. Such theories construe individuals in distinctive ways
Wilson, Robert A. (2000). Some problems for alternative individualism. Philosophy of Science 67 (4):671-679.   (Google | More links)