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Abstract: Psychologists distinguish between intentional systems which have beliefs and those which are also able to attribute beliefs to others. The ability to do the latter is called having a `theory of mind', and many cognitive ethologists are hoping to find evidence for this ability in animal behaviour. I argue that Dennett's theory entails that any intentional system that interacts with another intentional system (such as vervet monkeys and chess-playing computers) has a theory of mind, which would make the distinction all but meaningless. This entailment should not be accepted; instead, Dennett's position that intentional behaviour is best predictable via the intentional stance should be rejected in favour of a pluralistic view of behaviour prediction. I introduce an additional method which humans often use to predict intentional and non-intentional behaviour, which could be called the inductive stance.
Abstract: In this paper my purpose is to examine whether the case of inconsistent believers can offer a reason to object to theories of belief ascription that rely on a rationality constraint. I shall first illustrate how the possibility of inconsistent believers might be a challenge for the rationality constraint and then assess Davidson's influential reply to that challenge.
Abstract: Are there really beliefs? Or are we learning (from neuroscience and psychology, presumably) that, strictly speaking, beliefs are figments of our imagination, items in a superceded ontology? Philosophers generally regard such ontological questions as admitting just two possible answers: either beliefs exist or they don't. There is no such state as quasi-existence; there are no stable doctrines of semi-realism. Beliefs must either be vindicated along with the viruses or banished along with the banshees. A bracing conviction prevails, then, to the effect that when it comes to beliefs (and other mental items) one must be either a realist or an eliminative materialist
Abstract: I want to explore four different exercises of interpretation: (1) the interpretation of texts (or hermeneutics), (2) the interpretation of people (otherwise known as "attribution" psychology, or cognitive or intentional psychology), (3) the interpretation of other artifacts (which I shall call artifact hermeneutics), (4) the interpretation of organism design in evolutionary biology--the controversial interpretive activity known as adaptationism
Abstract: Nowhere in the psychological sciences has the philosophy of mind had more influence than on the child development literature generally referred to as children’s ‘theory of mind.’ Developmental journals may seem to be an unlikely place to find Brentano, Frege, and Dennett alongside descriptions of referential opacity and the principle of substitutivity, but it is not at all uncommon in this literature. While the many problems and complexities of the propositional attitude literature are still hotly debated by philosophers, and often ill understood by scientists working in this area, a great deal of empirical progress has already been made. We have Dan Dennett to thank for this extraordinary dialogue between these disciplines
Abstract: I try to focus our differences by examining the relation between what Dennett has termed "the intentional stance" and "the design stance." Dennett takes the intentional stance to be more basic than the design stance. Ultimately it is through the eyes of the intentional stance that both human and natural design are interpreted, hence there is always a degree of interpretive freedom in reading the mind, the purposes, both of Nature and of her children. The reason, or at least a reason, is that intentional interpretation is holistic, hence indeterminate, for the kinds of reasons given by Davidson and Quine. In contrast, I take the design stance to be more basic than the intentional stance. Intentional attributions express our best guesses about the locations of effects of certain kinds of natural design. And although there is often indeterminacy, ambiguity, or vagueness concerning what it is that natural selection (or learning) has selected for, these indeterminacies and vaguenesses are local, not holistic. There is reason to suppose that the better portion of Nature's purposes and the intentional states of her children are determinate in content within quite closely defined limits. I propose to defend this position as well as I can, so as to call from Dennett his own views on precisely where our paths separate (if they really do)
Abstract: [email: email@example.com] If recent literature is to be our guide, the main place of philosophy in the study of the mind would seem to be to determine the place of psychology in the study of the world. One distinctive kind of answer to this question begins by noting the central role of intentionality in psychology, and goes on to argue that this sets psychology apart from the natural sciences. Sometimes to be thus set apart is to be exiled, or rejected, but more often it is a protective move, intended to show that psychology is properly insulated from the reductionist demands of natural science. I am interested here in the general issue as to how this move to insulate intentional psychology should best be characterised-how to make sense of the idea that there can be a legitimate enterprise of this kind. I shall concentrate on what is perhaps the best known version of such a view, that of Daniel Dennett. I think that my conclusions apply to other versions as well, but Dennett provides a particularly accessible example
Abstract: Naturalism is supposed to be a Good Thing. So good in fact that everybody wants to be a naturalist, no matter what their views might be1. Thus there is some confusion about what, exactly, naturalism is. In what follows, I am going to be pretty much, though not exclusively, concerned with the topics of intentionality and consciousness, which only deepens the confusion for these are two areas
Abstract: It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism is by a special use of the concept of biological function, as understood in an enriched causal role (not selected effect) sense. On this view, a behavioral trait is essentially a special kind of regularity, namely a regularity that is produced by some regulatory mechanism. Regulatory mechanisms always require goal states, which can only be provided by functional considerations. As an example from actual (as opposed to folk) science, I examine the case of social behavior in nematodes. I show that the attempt to explain this phenomenon actually transformed it. This supports the view that scientific explanation does not explain an explanandum phenomenon that is given prior to the explanation; rather, the explanandum is changed by the explanation. This means that there could be a plurality of stances that have some heuristic value initially, but which will be abandoned in favor of a functional characterization eventually