A Natural History of Belief

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Abstract:

Contemporary philosophy of mind is dominated by a conception of our propositional attitude concepts as comprising a proto-scientific causal-explanatory theory of behavior. This conception has given rise to a spate of recent worries about the prospects for “naturalizing” the theory. In this paper I return to the roots of the “theory-theory” of the attitudes in Wilfrid Sellars’s classic “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.” I present an alternative to the theory-theory’s account of belief in the form of a parody of Sellars’s “Myth of Jones,” one that highlights the normative and pragmatic aspects of this concept and, hopefully, enables us to bypass questions about its physical “realization.”

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0114.00087

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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