CHAPTER 17 – Beyond Foundationalism
Hume’s Problem & Descartes’ Problem:
› Hume said that induction cannot be rationally justified. Skepticism is correct, IF the task of rational
justification is understood in the way Hume understood it.
› Foundationalism holds that justification flows from bottom to top, not in the direction. Beliefs are
justified because if their relationship to other beliefs that are more certain.
› Level 1 beliefs are enough to justify the beliefs I have about the physical environment I inhabit (level 2). I
need an additional assumption concerning the relationship between level 1 and 2.
› If my beliefs about my present and past environment (items at level 2) are to justify the predictions and
generalizations I believe (items at level 3) then I have to assume something about the relationship
between levels 2 and level 3. The principle of the uniformity of nature. (the future will resemble the
past) is an example of this type of bridge principle.
› Whether X is evidence of Y depends on the background assumptions Z
› When you test a hypothesis H and obtain some observations O, it will usually be true that O is evidence
for or against H only because the background assumptions A you made.
Another Relativity Thesis:
› The reliability theory of knowledge leads to the conclusion that whether S knows some proposition p
depends in how one chooses of describe the environment that S inhabits.
› Relative to one set of assumptions, the answer is no, but relative to another the answer is yes. We
shouldn’t ask whether one statement is evidence of another, but whether one statement is evidence for
another relative to a set of background assumptions.
Foundationalism Leads to Skepticism:
› My claim is that if we adopt a foundationalism understanding of what rational justification involves,
then Descartes we wrong and Hume was. In both Descartes problem and Hume’s problem,
foundationalism leads to skepticism.
Standards of Justification Often Depend on the Audience:
› Your goal is to rationally persuade the other individual that you are right. In doing this, you will feel free
to use as a premise in your argument any belief that the two of you share. If you agree about a lot of
things, there will be many propositions that you can use as premises. If however disagreements is more
persuasive, you will be much more limited in the premises you can use, and if you somehow disagreed
about everything, it would impossible to construct a rational argument that shows this person that
proposition in question is correct.
› Functionalists say that when you try to provide a rational justification of some proposition P, you must
construct an argument that would be compelling to a skeptic who doubts all the propositions that are at
the same level as p.
CHAPTER 18 – Locker on the Existence of External Objects
› Philosophers call the book in front of you an “external” object, meaning that it is not in your mind. › The confidence that your faculties do not herein deceive us in the greatest assurance we are capable of
concerning the existence of material beings.
Locke’s First Argument “Those That Want the Organs of Any Sense:
› Those that want the organs of any sense never can have the ideas belonging to the sense produced in
their minds. This is too evident to the doubted: and therefore we cannot but be assured that they come
in by the organs of that sense, and no other way.
Locke’s Second Argument – Ideas Which Force Themselves Upon Me:
› I can at pleasure recall to my mind the ideas of light, or the sun, which former sensations had logged in
my memory; so I can at pleasure lay by that idea, and take into my view that of the smell of a rose, or
taste of sugar.
Locke’s Third Argument – Pleasure or Pain:
› Pleasure or pain, which accompanies actual sensation, accompanies not the returning of those ideas
without the external objects. Ass to this, that many of those ideas are produced in us with pain, which
afterwards we remember without the least offence.
Locke’s Fourth Argument- Our Senses Assist One Other’s Testimony:
› Our senses assist one another’s testimony of the existence of outward things, and enable us to predict.
CHAPTER 19 – Dualism and the Mind/Body Problem
› The problem of free will concerns the relation of stage 1 to stage 2. If our beliefs and desires are caused
by the genes we possess and the environments we have inhabited, how can we possess free will? The
problem of psychological egoism concerns the relationship of stage 2 and 3. If the actions we perform
are caused by the desires we have, won’t it be true that all action is fundamentally selfish – aimed at
satisfying the actor’s own desires, not at satisfying the needs of others?
› Dualism is the idea that there are two kinds of things in the world. There are physical objects on the one
hand, and on the other, there are mental objects (like minds, pains, beliefs, etc.). According to dualism,
brains and the bodies in which they are found are physical things; the mind, which is a nonphysical
object, is distinct from both the whole body and is also distinct from all of the body’s physical parts.
› The idea is that if m and b are identical, then they must have all the same properties.
› Indiscernibility of identical states that if you can find even one property that m had and b lacks, then you
will have shown that m and b are distinct entities.
Descartes First Argument for Dualism – the Indubitable Existence Argument: › Descartes claims you can’t doubt that you have a mind. If you try to doubt that you have a mind, you will
find yourself entertaining a thought, and so you must grant that you have a mind after all.
› He thought that it is possible for you to doubt that you have a body. After all, you can entertain the
thought that you are a disembodied spirit.
› Descartes claims that his mind had the property of indubitable existence, and that his body lacks that
Propositional Attitudes and Aboutness:
› Doubting and desiring and attitudes we have to propositions; doubting, desiring, and believing are
examples of propositional attitudes.
Descartes Second Argument for Dualism- the Divisibility Argument:
› Descartes means to say that the body, but not the mind, takes up physical space; it has spatial location.
This also leads to dualism but Leibniz’s Law.
› The explanation is that the ideas are unfamiliar. The assertions sound jarring because they radically
depart from what we happen to believe.
› Descartes second argument for dualism is inconclusive. If the mind and the brain really were identical,
then many surprising facts may follow.
› The first argument (involving the idea of indubitable existence) is invalid. The second argument
(involving the ideas of divisibility and extension) is valid, but it begs the question. There seems to be no
reason to accept the premises (that the mind is divisible and lacks extension) unless you already believe
that the conclusion (dualism) is true. These negative verdicts don’t show that dualism is wrong.
Causality Between the Physical and the Nonphysical:
› If we were unable to detect a physical passing from the switch to the light, we would be puzzled about
how the first event was able to cause the second.
› If the mind and the brain are identical, it isn’t terribly puzzling how your beliefs and desires can cause
you to behave in various ways.
CHAPTER 20 – Logical Behaviourism
The Attack On “The Ghost in the Machine”:
› According to Pyle, common sense is committed to the idea that mental states are inner causes of
› This common sense explanation says that mental states are inner states that Joe occupies, ones which
cause his outward behaviour: According to common sense, we see that behaviour (the drinking), but we
don’t see the beliefs and desires that cause it. The beliefs and desires are “inside”; they can’t be directly
observed, though their effects – behaviour- can be.
› Mentalism is the common sense idea that mental states are inner causes of behaviour.
› Ryle thought that the view of minds as inner causes leads to what I’ll call third person skepticism.
› Logical behaviourism says mentalism is false because it leads to skepticism. › If mental states are inner, then the mental states of others would be hidden from us. Each of us would
be able to observe the behaviours of others, but not the beliefs and desires that others have. Because of
this, we wouldn’t be able to know what others think or want. At best, the only facts we would know
about the mind would come to us via first0 person introspection.
Logical Behaviourism’s Positive Thesis – Its Analysis of Mentalistic Vocabulary:
› Logical behaviourists maintain not just that belief is not an inner state; they also make a positive claim
about what it is for an agent to believe something.
A Dispositional Analysis Does Not Refute Mentalism:
› The definition of solubility conforms to behaviouristic requirements, since it makes no mention of the
inner state that soluble substances might occupy.
› Sober claims that the meaning of mentalistc terms (like “wants”, “believes”) cannot be analyzed in
purely behavioural language. In addition, I have argued that even if such an analysis in purely
behavioural language. In addition, I have argued that even if such an analysis could be provided (by
desiring mental states as “dispositions to behave”), it would not follow that mental states aren’t inner
causes of behaviour.
CHAPTER 21 – Methodological Behaviourism
› Methodological behaviourism, by contrast accepts the idea that our common sense mentalistic
vocabulary refers to inner states. Methodological behaviourism then argues that a scientific psychology
should avoid talking about beliefs and desires precisely because they are inner states.
The Negative Thesis – Psychology Should Avoid Belie/Desire Explanations:
› Skinner’s first objection to mentalistic explanation is that belief and desires aren’t observable. They are
hidden. All we can directly observe is the behaviours of others, not what goes on in their minds.
› Sober clarifies Skinner’s point by distinguishing specific belief/desire hypotheses from what he’ll call
mentalistic thesis, which is the claim that an individual’s behaviours are cause by beliefs and desires he
or she possess.
› The mentalistic thesis does not deserve to be part of a scientific psychology.
› The requirement that scientists should only put forward theories that are testable has the curious
consequence that they are allowed to advance specific belief/desire explanations but are not allowed to
say that mentalism is true. But mentalism is logically entailed by each specific belief/ desire explanation.
› Meantalism can’t be faulted on the ground that it isn’t testable. Specific mentalistic hypotheses can be
tested. Time will tell whether the general thesis of mentalism will turn out to be correct. In this sense,
the framework for mentalism, like the framework of behaviourism, is testable- it is testable “in the long
Methodological Behaviourism’s Positive Thesis: › Methodological behaviourism maintains that my present behaviour can be explained in terms of the
past environments I’ve occupied and the behaviours I produced in them, and my present environment
› Each of our behaviours can be explained by describing our history of stimulus conditioning.
First Objection to Behaviourism’s Positive Thesis – Novel Behaviours:
› The only way to describe how a past even is similar to a present event is to describe your beliefs and
› If our behaviours always obeyed patterns that we describable in terms of physical similarities between
past and present stimulus conditions, behaviourism might work.
› First, it is true that claims about the mental states of individuals should be tested against behavioural
data. Second, an individual’s behaviour is importantly influenced by the environments he or she has
experienced. Neither of these truisms, however, shows that methodological behaviourism maintains –
that it is possible to explain (and predict) behaviour without mentioning mental states.
Second Objection to Behaviourism’s Positive Thesis - It Assumes That Environmental Determinism is
› Sober’s point is that methodological behaviourism assumes in advance of any detained scientific analysis
that environmental variables suffice to explain behaviour.
› First we must consider different behaviours separately. The kind of explanation we offer for
schizophrenia may differ from the kind we want to give for speaking English. Second, we must recognize
that there are “mixed” proposals that deserve a hearing; we want to consider the idea that some
behaviours have both environmental and genetic causes.
CHAPTER 22 – The Mind/ Brain Identity Theory:
› Methodological behaviourism recall, isn’t a thesis about the nature of the mind; since methodological
behaviourism recommends that scientific explanations of behaviour ignore the mind, it doesn’t say
much about what the mind is.
The Identity Theory is an a posteriori Claim:
› The identity theory argues for its solution to the mind/body problem by describing the progress that
science has made so far and by predicting the progress that science will make in the future.
› The identity theory is offered as an a posteriori proposition about the relationship of mind and body.
› This is the view that every object is a material (physical) object.
› Materialists hold that if two objects are different in any way at all, they must exhibit physical
differences. (no difference without physical difference)
› Example: A jazz lover and a jazz hater might be molecule for molecule identical; they would be physically
identical but psychologically distinct. Dualists think this is possible because they think that the mind is
not a material object at all. Progress in Science:
› A doctrine called vitalism held that living things contain a nonphysical substance that animates them
with life – an elan vita (a vital fluid)
Dualism Resembles Vitalism:
› The min/brain identity theory says that what has happened to the problem of life is in the process of
happening to the problem of the mind.
› Mental objects are physical objects and mental characteristics are physical characteristics.
The Principle of Parsimony:
› Identity theorists think that the identity theory is more parsimonious (simpler) than dualism. Their idea
is that the scientific method says we should prefer simpler theories over more complex ones, with both
are consistent with the observations.
› Their idea is that more parsimonious theories are more likely to be true.
› Ockham’s Razor: We should prefer explanations that minimize the number of entities, processes, and
events they postulate. (don’t multiply entities beyond necessity”
› In the problem of life, the principle leads one to deny the existence of an immaterial vital substance. It
doesn’t say that one should suspend judgment as to whether such a substance exists.
› Their recommendation is not to suspend judgment about dualism, but to conclude that dualism is false.
In both cases, Ockham’s Razor leafs one to conclude that X does not exist, not to conclude that one
should suspend judgment as to whether X exists.
CHAPTER 23 – Functionalism
› Functionalism has two parts. One positive, and one negative. The negative part describes what
psychological states are not. The positive part advances a proposal about what psychological states are.
The Type/Token Distinction:
› Unique physical objects are called tokens. Kinds (or properties) are called types. The unique physical
object that you are now wearing is a token of many types. It is a token of the type shirt; it also is a token
of the type blue, and a token of the type clothing. To say that a single token is a token of many types is
merely to say that a single object has many properties.
› Identity theory has two parts. It makes a claim about psychological tokens and also a claim about
psychological types. The for