Mental content and mentalistic causal explanation: a case against externalism

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2010
Sarıhan, Işık
This thesis presents a defense of the view that externalism cannot be a theoretical basis of a mentalistic causal-explanatory science, even though such a theoretical basis is implicitly or explicitly adopted by many cognitive scientists. Externalism is a theory in philosophy of mind which states that mental properties are relations between the core realizers of an individual’s mental states (such as brain states) and certain things that exist outside those realizers (such as what the content of a mental state corresponds to in the actual world.) After clarifications regarding the term “externalism” and reviewing the history and the various forms of the externalist theory, it is argued that the properties offered by externalist theories as mental properties have no causal influence on behavior, and therefore cannot causally explain it. The argument is largely based on a method of comparing the causal powers of entities which are identical in all respects except their mental properties (as construed by externalism), and the conclusions are supported by metaphysical reflections on causation, dispositions, relational properties and historical properties. Objections to the defended view are considered and refuted. The thesis is written in the style of modern analytic philosophy.

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Citation Formats
I. Sarıhan, “Mental content and mentalistic causal explanation: a case against externalism,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2010.