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Title: The non-reificatory approach to belief
Author: Floyd, Richard
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2010
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The reificatory approach in philosophy of mind interprets psychological terms like "belief' and "desire" as referring to the hidden particulars which cause our observable behaviour. It is contrasted with the non-reificatory approach, which interprets such terms as being strongly associated with people's relational and djspsitional properties and as being meaningful without having to make reference to any subpersonal state, event, or process. The reificatory approach is comfortably the more popular one, and is often implicitly assumed rather than directly argued for. Thus, much discussion in philosophy of mind since the 19605 - when the reificatory approach, via functionalism, established its dominance - has been about how reconcile intentional realism with physicalism. Mental states, it is thought, must be in some way physical, or they must be non-existent. The reificatory approach to belief encounters a number of technical problems (such as the overdetermination problem) that the non-reificatory approach avoids. However, reification might be thought to be necessary for a number of reasons: a) the citing of beliefs as the causes of action, b) the widely held view that commonsense psychology is a theory about people's inner mental contents, and c) the fact that we seem to have first-person access to the "things” whose existence the non-reificatory approach denies. This thesis attempts to undermine these reasons, arguing in each case that the evidence would be consistent with a non-reificatory account. After this, a positive non-reificatory account is offered, suggesting that the non-reificatory approach is more faithful to our everyday concept of belief. Finally, an attempt is made to account for the continuing popularity of the reificatory approach, arguing that said popularity is primarily a result of the deep rooted conceptual metaphors that pervade our talk about the mind. Thus, it is concluded, the non-reificatory approach is the correct one.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available