A construction of the psychological : desiring and valuing
Paul Grice has argued that a methodological procedure termed 'constructionism' is suitable to elucidate our folk-psychological concepts. The methodology is foundationalist: beginning with a psychologically simple creature a sequence of increasingly psychologically complex creatures is developed through the application of a set of construction routines and constraints. This thesis develops Grice's claim. My main aim is to demonstrate the methodology by producing a construction. My secondary aim is to illuminate the concepts of 'desiring' and 'valuing' by means of the described construction. In Chapter 1, I claim that constructionism provides an answer to problems associated with a certain form of holism which permeates the psychological. In Chapter 2, I discuss and criticise the detail of Grice's account for the development of a construction. In Chapter 3, I set out the foundations for my construction. In Chapter 4, I describe a simple creature with a single recurrent need inhabiting a simple environment consisting of four features. These features are manipulated to determine how the creature would need to develop in order to survive. The end of this chapter sees the ascription of a discriminatory capacity in response to the need to track and manipulate objects. This capacity might plausibly be described as 'presentational'. In Chapter 5, I attribute to the creature multiple needs and the capacity for Associative Learning. At this stage 'desires' emerge. The rest of the chapter is concerned with assessing the modified creature's capacity for continued survival. By the end of the chapter the creature is shown to lack the capacities necessary to form preferences suited to the specific contexts in which it acts. In Chapter 6, I claim that a creature with an objective conception can form the necessary preferences. I ascribe to the creature those capacities necessary to for objective conception. The upgraded creature is described as capable of 'valuing'.