|Externalism About Mental Content|
|Lau (Joe) & Deutsch (Max)|
|Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2002-10|
|Paper - 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.
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First published Mon Oct 21, 2002; substantive revision Tue Aug 17, 2010; see Link.
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