Just What Do We Have in Mind?
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. 10), 1986, pages 25–48
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Author’s Abstract

  1. Many philosophers who otherwise have disparate views on the mind share a fundamental assumption. The assumption is that the mental processes, or at least those that explain behavior, are wholly determined by properties of the individual whose processes they are. As elaborated by Jerry Fodor, the assumption yields the widely held view called "methodological solipsism," a view developed from the plausible thought that whatever explains an individual's behavior must be "in the head" of the individual. Put this way, the assumption sounds innocent enough, perhaps even inevitable.
  2. Nevertheless, I believe that, as it has been construed recently, the assumption is false. At the very least, it does not deserve the largely unquestioned status it enjoys, as I hope to show by a graduated series of thought experiments1. I present the thought experiments2 as a series to expose a shared inadequacy in a variety of individualistic views, from type-type physicalism to the most sophisticated methodological solipsism; and I present them as graduated to suggest that having accepted the first relatively uncontroversial story, one has no principled place to demur later.
  3. Although I shall discuss the thought experiments3 explicitly with regard to interpretations of Jerry Fodor's views, I believe that they have broad application. For example, I believe that they refute any physicalism that holds that for each distinct type of psychological state, there is a distinct type of internal, physical state; and that they refute any functionalism that holds that for each distinct type of psychological state, there is a distinct causal role.


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