Burge’s anti-individualism. Clarifying the thesis. Individualism is the view that all of an individual’s representational mental kinds are con- stitutively independent. Excerpts from Tyler Burge, ‘Individualism and the mental’, Midwest Studies in concern with the individual subject of mental states and events. Burge () Individualism and the Mental – Download as PDF File .pdf) or read online.

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Imagine a scenario where our memory is connected to an external computer database. This raises the question of whether there are non-deferential concepts to which externalism does not apply. McGinn and Burgeboth argue that externalism mentall the token-identity theory and hence type-identity theory as well. But externalism says that mental contents are determined by causal, social or historical factors, factors yhe extend spatially and temporally beyond the body.

According to the externalist, our intuition tells us that this individual on Twin Earth does not believe that water quenches thirst. But since we do not burte a priori whether a concept succeeds in referring to anything at all, no information about the external world can be derived solely on the basis of externalism and knowledge of our thoughts.

Individualism and the mental by Tyler Burge

Some philosophers reject the use of thought experiments in determining whether content thf wide or narrow.

Externalism has important consequences for a number of different mind-body theories. Some developmental psychologists, such as Spelke indiividualism, have argued that human beings are innately endowed with a number of systems of knowledge relating to such domains as physics, language, psychology, number and geometry see Elman et.


A different way to defend the explanatory relevance of wide content is to identify its distinctive explanatory role without them being parasitic upon the causal efficacy of intrinsic properties.

Tyler Burge, Individualism and the mental – PhilPapers

McGinn and Burge rely on a modal argument: This article reviews the externalism vs. Ten Problems of Consciousness: See xnd entry on internalist vs.

But see Stalnaker and Francesboth of whom argue that psychological contents so understood might still be wide. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 1: But the meaning of a term prescribes its correct application in infinitely many other novel situations that we have not encountered before. Whereas believing that it is raining and believing that it is sunny are states with distinct contents but of the same psychological type.

One way to resist this conclusion is to reject the implicit assumption that to know one’s own thoughts one must know the environmental conditions that make such thoughts possible. See the entries on mental representationand teleological theories of mental content.

Externalism About Mental Content

Externalism is true here only in part because knowledge requires veridical contents. What is controversial is whether externalism extends to mental states belonging to psychological types which do not thr such a requirement, e.

For further discussion, see Larson and Segal individuaism, and Ludlow, and Lassiter However, it might then be argued that in so doing we are in effect extending the physical boundary of that person beyond his brain. Request removal from index.


But if the database servers are actually owned by a commercial company, legal considerations might mitigate against the idea that the servers are part of our bodies or our minds. It is submitted that there is a distinction between linguistic content and psychological content.

Joshua Habgood-Coote – – Inquiry: It follows that facts about the environment play no role in determining whether or not the creature has property K. Sawyer seem willing to bite the bullet and say that, since externalism is true and we know it and we have priviledged access to our thoughts, we also invividualism a kind of a priori access to our external environment.

Davidson does not explain why this claim should be accepted.

For example, we might implant micro-processors and radio transmitters into our brains in order to access external databases, or to offload computationally-intensive processing. It might turn out that psychologists make use of belief content in their best psychological theories in an internalist manner, contrary to our folk intuitions. However, such arguments for narrow content are controversial, resting on assumptions about causation or scientific methodology which are not widely accepted.

On the other hand, perhaps an externalist might argue that when we speak of innate knowledge we should take such knowledge to supervene upon the interaction between the genome and the normal environment of the organism in question.