Externalism About Mental Content
Lau (Joe) & Deutsch (Max)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2002-10
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

Many of our mental states such as beliefs and desires are intentional mental states, or mental states with content. Externalism with regard to mental content says that in order to have certain types of intentional mental states (e.g. beliefs), it is necessary to be related to the environment in the right way. Internalism (or individualism) denies this, and it affirms that having those intentional mental states depends solely on our intrinsic properties. This debate has important consequences with regard to philosophical and empirical theories of the mind, and the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting the mind. It also raises other interesting questions concerning such matters as the explanatory relevance of content and the possibility of a priori self-knowledge.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Classic Arguments for Externalism
  3. Responses to the Classic Arguments
  4. The Scope of Externalism
  5. Externalism and Mind-Body Theories
  6. Externalism and Self-knowledge
  7. Externalism and Mental Causation1
  8. Externalism and Cognitive Science
  9. Active Externalism
    Other Internet Resources
    Related Entries


First published Mon Oct 21, 2002; substantive revision Tue Aug 17, 2010; see Stanford Archive: Externalism About Mental Content.

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