Instrumentalism, Semi-Realism and Causality Comparing Dennett´s view of the function of folk psychology with the Theory-Theory


Two possible correspondence examples3



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Two possible correspondence examples3




The Causal Power of Active Knowing

If you look up the word “belief“ in the Oxford Dictionary you will read among other more religious-related definitions: a firmly held opinion. The word “to know“ in comparison means “to be sure of something“. A “belief“ is ambiguous, as it can mean the mental state itself, but also that what is believed (what it refers to). There is no such expression in the English language for knowledge, so I adopt the word `Knowing` for my purposes. We use the word belief of course also for attitudes in which we want to express a kind of uncertainty about our knowing, but in many cases there is no difference at all between a knowing and a belief. This can be easily seen by taking the Inspector Clouseau example from Ramsey et al. If the inspector believes the hotel is closed during the winter, then we could say that he knows that the hotel is closed. As things stand I take knowings as a subset of beliefs, beliefs I know with near absolute certainty. Moreover beliefs and knowings have the same metaphysical status: they both fit the conditions of propositional modularity (see above).


I claim that it is much harder for us to accept Dennett´s instrumental semi-realism if we adopt the intentional stance for knowings instead of beliefs. Knowings seem to be active memory states and there is very little doubt about the fact that knowledge is physically represented and in fact has causal power.

Let me exemplify this:

I am sitting in my room, the window is open. There is a cold breeze coming in. I know/belief that my window is open, so I go to the window and close it.
Dennett would argue that my `knowing` of the window being open is not causally active. Someone would ascribe the knowing to me (not clear?) only in order to explain my behaviour. Moreover, from a subjective stand I would need to concede that I do not close the window because I know the window is open, but of some other reason. Beliefs and desires are inherently more difficult to analyze, not to mention fears and other emotionally laden states. The latter (what exactly do you refer to?) might be eliminated in the future, but the mere causal power of `knowings` is a crucial argument against Dennett´s theory.




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