Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Brainstorms by Daniel C. This collection of 17 essays by the author offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will. Using careful arguments and ingenious thought-experiments, the author exposes familiar preconceptions and hobbling institutions.
This collection of 17 essays by the author offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing tradit This collection of 17 essays by the author offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Brainstorms , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list ». Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jul 19, Tim rated it liked it. Not an enjoyable read at all. It suffers from serious academia-oriented writing with a dash of its time period to make it even more stale.
Don't get me wrong, there are some important ideas in here, but it is so not reader friendly. Combine that with how old the material is now and I couldn't recommend it as a read unless one were doing specific research on the topic and just had to include it for the sake of completeness. Apr 24, Dachi rated it really liked it.
Sometimes our mind sees what is hidden for eyes,but it's not always sensitive. We must learn to avoid imagination for eyes and create reality for mind! Jul 23, Zo rated it it was amazing. Wonderful and fascinating collection of essays. My thoughts aren't in order enough to engage much with Dennett's "conclusions" here -- I would really need to sit down with each chapter and go through it slowly -- but that doesn't diminish my praise.
Many of these essays are difficult to follow at times, but I think that is the nature of the subject matter. Dennett does a better job of making these questions accessible than any other writer I've read and I think that reflects his understanding, not because he is simplifying things, though maybe that is because I don't properly understand other writers! The ending chapters that took on more moral questions were all interesting and well-articulated, though I felt like they were potentially the most open to objection.
Having now read two of his books I am fairly convinced I want to read all of them. Mar 29, Qingyang rated it it was amazing Shelves: physics. Some hard papers by Dennett here. I love Dennett's writing style and his critical thoughts.
He does have a tendency for run-on sentences and paragraphs, but the thoughts he presents are nuanced and well-considered. I wonder how much time he took to write this collection. This helped me with writing my Philosophy IA. Titolo assai fuorviante Apr 21, David rated it liked it. This book has some worthy insights, and is good for understanding the popular psych view from the era it was written in, and has some nice insights on the author's psychological worldview on the nature of dreams, although I wouldn't recommend it to anybody generally--maybe for some specific academic purposes.
Still, it is a better love-story than Twilight. Nov 01, Schizophelia rated it it was amazing. This book is filled with Dennett's essays and wrapped in Edward Gorey. This really happened. May 10, Dave Peticolas rated it really liked it. Apr 03, Jonathan Norton rated it liked it. Also reviews then-fading influence of Skinner and Ryle. Nov 29, DJ added it. Nov 08, Martin added it. Brain Writing and Mind Reading. Skinner Skinned. A Cure for the Common Code? Artificial Intelligence as Philosophy and as Psychology.
Objects of Consciousness and the Nature of Experience. Two Approaches to Mental Images. Mechanism and Responsibility. The Abilities of Men and Machines. How to Change Your Mind. Toward a Cognitive Theory of Consciousness. Intentional Systems.
The third chapter introduces the concept of "skyhooks" and "cranes" see below. He suggests that resistance to Darwinism is based on a desire for skyhooks, which do not really exist. According to Dennett, good reductionists explain apparent design without skyhooks; greedy reductionists try to explain it without cranes.
Chapter 4 looks at the tree of life , such as how it can be visualized and some crucial events in life's history. The next chapter concerns the possible and the actual, using the 'Library of Mendel ' the space of all logically possible genomes as a conceptual aid. In the last chapter of part I, Dennett treats human artifacts and culture as a branch of a unified Design Space.
Descent or homology can be detected by shared design features that would be unlikely to appear independently. However, there are also "Forced Moves" or "Good Tricks" that will be discovered repeatedly, either by natural selection see convergent evolution or human investigation.
The first chapter of part II, "Darwinian Thinking in Biology", asserts that life originated without any skyhooks, and the orderly world we know is the result of a blind and undirected shuffle through chaos.
The eighth chapter's message is conveyed by its title, "Biology is Engineering"; biology is the study of design, function , construction and operation. However, there are some important differences between biology and engineering. Related to the engineering concept of optimization, the next chapter deals with adaptationism , which Dennett endorses, calling Gould and Lewontin 's "refutation" of it  an illusion. Dennett thinks adaptationism is, in fact, the best way of uncovering constraints.
The tenth chapter, entitled " Bully for Brontosaurus ", is an extended critique of Stephen Jay Gould , who Dennett feels has created a distorted view of evolution with his popular writings; his "self-styled revolutions" against adaptationism, gradualism and other orthodox Darwinism all being false alarms. The final chapter of part II dismisses directed mutation , the inheritance of acquired traits and Teilhard 's " Omega Point ", and insists that other controversies and hypotheses like the unit of selection and Panspermia have no dire consequences for orthodox Darwinism.
It asserts that the meme has a role to play in our understanding of culture, and that it allows humans , alone among animals , to "transcend" our selfish genes. Dennett criticizes Noam Chomsky 's perceived resistance to the evolution of language , its modeling by artificial intelligence , and reverse engineering. The evolution of meaning is then discussed, and Dennett uses a series of thought experiments to persuade the reader that meaning is the product of meaningless, algorithmic processes.
Dennett extends his criticism to Roger Penrose. Before moving to the next chapter, he discusses some sociobiology controversies. The penultimate chapter, entitled "Redesigning Morality", begins by asking if ethics can be 'naturalized'. Dennett does not believe there is much hope of discovering an algorithm for doing the right thing, but expresses optimism in our ability to design and redesign our approach to moral problems.
In "The Future of an Idea", the book's last chapter, Dennett praises biodiversity , including cultural diversity. In closing, he uses Beauty and the Beast as an analogy; although Darwin's idea may seem dangerous, it is actually quite beautiful. Dennett believes there is little or no principled difference between the naturally generated products of evolution and the man-made artifacts of human creativity and culture. For this reason he indicates deliberately that the complex fruits of the tree of life are in a very meaningful sense "designed"—even though he does not believe evolution was guided by a higher intelligence.
Dennett supports using the notion of memes to better understand cultural evolution. He also believes even human creativity might operate by the Darwinian mechanism. Dennett acknowledges this and admits he is offering a philosophical idea rather than a scientific formulation. Dennett describes natural selection as a substrate-neutral, mindless algorithm for moving through Design Space.
Dennett writes about the fantasy of a "universal acid" as a liquid that is so corrosive that it would eat through anything that it came into contact with, even a potential container. Such a powerful substance would transform everything it was applied to; leaving something very different in its wake. Dennett uses the term "skyhook" to describe a source of design complexity that does not build on lower, simpler layers—in simple terms, a miracle. In philosophical arguments concerning the reducibility or otherwise of the human mind, Dennett's concept pokes fun at the idea of intelligent design emanating from on high, either originating from one or more gods , or providing its own grounds in an absurd, Munchausen -like bootstrapping manner.
Dennett also accuses various competing neo-Darwinian ideas of making use of such supposedly unscientific skyhooks in explaining evolution , coming down particularly hard on the ideas of Stephen Jay Gould. Dennett contrasts theories of complexity that require such miracles with those based on " cranes ", structures that permit the construction of entities of greater complexity but are themselves founded solidly "on the ground" of physical science.
It is therefore a pleasure to meet a philosopher who understands what Darwinism is about, and approves of it. Dennett goes well beyond biology. He sees Darwinism as a corrosive acid, capable of dissolving our earlier belief and forcing a reconsideration of much of sociology and philosophy. Although modestly written, this is not a modest book. Dennett argues that, if we understand Darwin's dangerous idea , we are forced to reject or modify much of our current intellectual baggage Writing in the same publication, Stephen Jay Gould criticised Darwin's Dangerous Idea for being an "influential but misguided ultra-Darwinian manifesto":.
Daniel Dennett devotes the longest chapter in Darwin's Dangerous Idea to an excoriating caricature of my ideas, all in order to bolster his defense of Darwinian fundamentalism. If an argued case can be discerned at all amid the slurs and sneers, it would have to be described as an effort to claim that I have, thanks to some literary skill, tried to raise a few piddling, insignificant, and basically conventional ideas to "revolutionary" status, challenging what he takes to be the true Darwinian scripture.
Since Dennett shows so little understanding of evolutionary theory beyond natural selection, his critique of my work amounts to little more than sniping at false targets of his own construction. He never deals with my ideas as such, but proceeds by hint, innuendo, false attribution, and error. Gould was also a harsh critic of Dennett's idea of the "universal acid " of natural selection and of his subscription to the idea of memetics ; Dennett responded, and the exchange between Dennett, Gould, and Robert Wright was printed in the New York Review of Books.
Biologist H. Allen Orr wrote a critical review emphasizing similar points in the Boston Review. The book has also provoked a negative reaction from creationists ; Frederick Crews writes that Darwin's Dangerous Idea "rivals Richard Dawkins 's The Blind Watchmaker as the creationists' most cordially hated text. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Evolution ethics. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
On the Origin of Species. London: John Murray. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. PMID Organisms, especially mobile ones, generally need to keep track of features of their environment to be evolutionarily successful.
Consequently, they generally possess internal systems whose function it is to covary in certain ways with the environment. In the northern hemisphere, these bacteria, guided by the magnets, propel themselves toward magnetic north. Since in the northern hemisphere magnetic north tends downward, they are thus carried toward deeper water and sediment, and away from toxic, oxygen-rich surface water.
We might thus say that the magnetic system of these bacteria is a representational system that functions to indicate the direction of benign or oxygen-poor environments. To have beliefs, Dretske suggests, is to have an integrated manifold of such representational systems, acquired in part through associative learning, poised to guide behavior. But alpha and beta have nothing important in common other than what, in the outside world, they are supposed to represent; they have no structural similarity; one is not compounded in part from the other.
Conceivably, all our beliefs could be set up in this way, having as little in common as alpha and beta—one internally unstructured representational state after another. To say that mental representations are structured is in part to deny that our minds work like that. Among the reasons to suppose that our representations are structured, Fodor argues, are the productivity and systematicity of thought Fodor ; Fodor and Pylyshyn ; Aizawa If representations are unstructured, each of these different potential beliefs must, once believed, be an entirely new state, not constructed from representational elements previously available.
If representations are structured, if they have elements that can be shuffled and recombined, the productivity and systematicity of thought and belief seem naturally to follow. Conversely, someone who holds that representations are unstructured has, at least, some explaining to do to account for these features of thought. So also, apparently, does someone who denies that belief is underwritten or implemented by a representational system of any sort.
Supposing representations are structured, then, what kind of structure do they have? Fodor notes that productivity and systematicity are features not just of thought but also of language, and concludes that representational structure must be linguistic. A number of philosophers have argued that our cognitive representations have, or can have, a map-like rather than a linguistic structure Lewis ; Braddon-Mitchell and Jackson ; Camp , ; Rescorla ; though see Blumson and Johnson for concerns about whether map-like and language-like structures are importantly distinct.
Map-like representational systems are both productive and systematic: By recombination and repetition of its elements, a map can represent indefinitely many potential states of affairs; and a map-like system that has the capacity, for example, to represent the river as north of the mountain will normally also have the capacity to represent, by a re-arrangement of its parts, the mountain as north of the river.
The maps view makes nice sense of the fact that when a person changes one belief, a multitude of other beliefs seem also to change simultaneously and effortlessly: If you shift a mountain farther north on a map, for example, you immediately and automatically change many other aspects of the representational system the distance between the mountain and the north coast, the direction one must hike to go from the mountain to the oasis, etc.
On the other hand, perhaps just because the linguistic view requires inference for what appears to happen automatically on the maps view, the linguistic view can more easily account for failures of rationality, in which not all the necessary changes are made and the subject ends up with an inconsistent view.
Certain sorts of indeterminacy may also be more difficult to accommodate in map-like than in language-like structures. Generally speaking, one might worry that the maps view overgenerates and overspecifies beliefs, while the linguistic view undergenerates and underspecifies them.
A third and very different way of thinking about representational structure arises from the perspective of connectionism , a position in cognitive science and computational theory. It is sometimes suggested e. However, it would take us too far afield to enter this technical issue here. For more on this topic see the entry on connectionism.
Recent representational approaches sometimes especially emphasize the normative dimension of belief. Shah and Velleman argue that conceiving of an attitude as a belief that P entails conceiving of it as governed by a norm of truth , that is, as an attitude that is correct if and only if P is true. A related literature addresses whether belief is essentially subject to a norm of truth Wedgwood ; McHugh and Whiting ; Gluer and Wikforss Representationalist normativism has roots in the idea that representational systems are functional systems of a certain sort Millikan ; Dretske : Function appears to be a normative concept, implying at least a contrast with malfunction.
If you believe that P and P is false, you have erred or made a mistake, whereas if you desire that P and P is false, you have not in the same way erred or made a mistake. While representationalists like Fodor, Dretske, and Mandelbaum contend that having the right internal, representational structure is essential to having beliefs, another group of philosophers treats the internal structure of the mind as of only incidental relevance to the question of whether a being is properly described as believing.
One way to highlight the difference between this view and representationalism is this: Imagine that we discover an alien being, of unknown constitution and origin, whose behavior and overall behavioral dispositions are perfectly normal by human standards. Even if we know next to nothing about what is going on inside his head, it may seem natural to say that Rudolfo has beliefs much like ours—for example, that the is normally due April 15, that a field goal is worth 3 points, and that labor unions tend to support Democratic candidates.
Perhaps we can coherently imagine that Rudolfo does not manipulate sentences in a language of thought or possess internal representational structures of the right sort. Perhaps it is conceptually, even if not physically, possible that he has no complex, internal, cognitive organ, no real brain. But even if it is granted that a creature must have human-like representations in order to behave thoroughly like a human being, one might still think that it is the pattern of actual and potential behavior that is fundamental in belief—that representations are essential to belief only because, and to the extent to, they ground such a pattern.
Dispositionalists and interpretationists are drawn to this way of thinking. Traditional dispositional views of belief assert that for someone to believe some proposition P is for that person to possess one or more particular behavioral dispositions pertaining to P. Perhaps all such dispositions can be brought under a single heading, which is, most generally, being disposed to act as though P is the case.
Such actions are normally taken to be at least pretty good prima facie evidence of belief in P ; the question is whether being disposed, overall, so to act is tantamount to believing P , as the dispositionalist thinks, or whether it is merely an outward sign of belief.
There are two standard objections to traditional dispositional accounts of belief. Such a reduction or analysis appears impossible for the following reason: People with the same belief may behave very differently, depending on their other beliefs, desires, and so forth. Change the surrounding beliefs and desires and very different behavior may result. The second standard objection to traditional dispositional accounts of belief is to note the loose connection between belief and behavior in some cases—for example, in a recently paralyzed person, or in someone who wants to keep a private opinion e.
On the other hand, however, the demand for an absolutely precise specification of the conditions under which a disposition will be manifested, without exception, may be excessive. In light of these concerns and others, most recent philosophers sympathetic with the view described in the first paragraph of this section have abandoned traditional dispositionalism. They divide into roughly two classes, which we may call liberal dispositionalists and interpretationists. Liberal dispositionalists avoid the first objection by abandoning the reductionist project associated with traditional dispositionalism.
They permit appeal to other mental states in specifying the dispositions relevant to any particular belief—including other beliefs and desires. They also broaden the range of dispositions considered relevant to the possession of a belief so as to include at least some dispositions to undergo private mental episodes that do not manifest in outwardly observable behavior—dispositions, for example, for the subject to feel and not just exhibit surprise should she discover the falsity of P , for her privately to draw conclusions from P , to feel confidence in the truth of P , to utter P silently to herself in inner speech, and so forth.
Advocates of views of this sort include Price , Audi , Baker , Schwitzgebel , , and arguably Ryle and Ramsey , — ; see Wright However, a philosopher approaching belief with the specific goal of defending physicalism or materialism—the view that everything in the world, including the mind, is wholly physical or material see physicalism —might have reason to be dissatisfied with liberal dispositionalism, for the very reason that it abandons the reductionist project.
Although liberal dispositional accounts of belief are consistent with physicalism, they do not substantially advance that thesis, since they relate belief to other mental states that may or may not be seen as physical. The defense of physicalism was one of the driving forces in philosophy of mind in the period during which the most influential approaches to belief in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind were developed—the s through the s—and it was one of the principal reasons philosophers were interested in accounts of propositional attitudes such as belief.
Consequently, the failure of liberal dispositionalism to advance the physicalist thesis might be seen as an important drawback. Interpretationism shares with dispositionalism the emphasis on patterns of action and reaction, rather than internal representational structures, but retains the focus, abandoned by the liberal dispositionalist, on observable behavior —behavior interpretable by an outside observer. Since behavior is widely assumed to be physical, interpretationism can thus more easily be seen as advancing the physicalist project.
The two most prominent interpretationists have been Dennett , , and Davidson ; see Donald Davidson ; also see Lewis We can predict that a diver will trace a roughly parabolic trajectory to the water because we know how objects of approximately that mass and size behave in fall near the surface of the Earth.
Much of our prediction of human behavior appears to involve such attribution though see Andrews Certainly, treating people as mere physical bodies or as biological machines will not, as a practical matter, get us very far in predicting what is important to us. The system has the particular belief that P if its behavior conforms to a pattern that may be effectively captured by taking the intentional stance and attributing the belief that P. For example, we can say that Heddy believes that a hurricane may be coming because attributing her that belief along with other related beliefs and desires helps reveal the pattern, invisible from the physical and design stances, behind her boarding up her windows, making certain phone calls, stocking up provisions, etc.
All there is to having beliefs, according to Dennett, is embodying patterns of this sort. Davidson also characterizes belief in terms of practices of belief attribution. Success in this enterprise would necessarily involve attributing beliefs and desires to the being in question, in light of which its utterances make sense. An entity with beliefs is a being for whom such a project is practicable in principle—a being that emits, or is disposed to emit, a complex pattern of behavior that can productively be interpreted as linguistic, rational, and expressive of beliefs and desires.
Many philosophers identify themselves as functionalists see functionalism about mental states in general or belief in particular. Functionalism about mental states is the view that what makes something a mental state of a particular type are its actual and potential, or its typical, causal relations to sensory stimulations, behavior, and other mental states seminal sources include Armstrong ; Fodor ; Lewis , ; Putnam ; Block Functionalists generally contrast their view with the view that what makes something a mental state of a particular type are facts about its internal structure.
To understand this distinction, it may be helpful to begin with some non-mental examples. Arguably, what makes something a streptococcal bacterium, or a cube, is its shape or internal structure; its causal history or proneness to produce particular effects on particular occasions is only secondarily relevant, if at all. In contrast, whether something is a hard drive or not is not principally a matter of internal structure.
A hard drive could be made of plastic or steel, employ magnetic tape or lasers. Internal structure is relevant only secondarily, insofar as it grounds these causal capacities. Likewise, according to the functionalist, what makes a state pain is not its particular neural configuration. People and animals with very different neural configurations could all equally be in pain even, conceivably, a Martian with an internal structure radically different from ours could suffer pain.
Philosophers frequently endorse functionalism about belief without even briefly sketching out the various particular functional relationships that are supposed to be involved, though Loar is a notable exception to this tendency see also Leitgeb However, among the causal relationships contemporary philosophers have often seen as characteristic of belief are the following these are sketched here only roughly; they come in many versions differing in nuance :.
Loar emphasizes versions of 2 and 3 over 1 and 4 , but one sees conditions of this sort at least briefly alluded to by a number of functionalist philosophers, including Dennett , , Armstrong , Stalnaker , Fodor , Pettit , Shoemaker , and Zimmerman For the functionalist, to believe just is to be in a state that plays something like this sort of causal role.
As the list of names of the previous paragraph suggests, functionalism is compatible with either a representationalist approach to belief as in Fodor or an interpretationist one as in Dennett. The interpretationist, of course, will have to treat the relevant functional states as posits of an interpretative theory or scheme.
Dispositional accounts of belief, too, can be functionalist. Indeed, dispositional accounts can be seen as a special or limiting case of functional accounts. Backward-looking causal relations pertain to what actually, potentially, or typically causes the state in question; forward-looking causal relations pertain to what effects the state in question actually, potentially, or typically has. Thus 1 and 2 above are backward-looking causal relations, while 3 and 4 are forward-looking.
We might, then, see the dispositionalist as a functionalist who thinks only the forward-looking causal relations are definitive of belief: To believe is to be in a state apt to cause such-and-such behavioral or other manifestations. This view is, of course, compatible with accepting the existence of regularities like 1 and 2 , as long as they are not regarded as defining characteristics of belief.
The compatibility of functionalism and representationalism is not evident on its face, though a number of prominent contemporary philosophers appear to embrace both positions e. As Millikan , Papineau , and others have suggested, it seems one thing to say that to believe is to be in a state that fills a particular causal role , and it seems quite another to say that beliefs are essentially states that represent how things stand in the world.
How can something represent the world outside simply by virtue of playing a certain causal role in a cognitive system? The indicator function of an internal state or system would seem, at least sometimes and in part, to depend constitutively on the evolutionary history of that state or system, or its learning history, and not simply on the causal relationships it is currently disposed to enter.
Three escapes from this potential difficulty suggest themselves. Another is to accept that causal role determines the representational status of a mental state i. Such claims may be more easily reconcilable with certain canonical statements of functionalism such as Lewis than with others such as Putnam The issue has not been as fully discussed as it should be.
Some philosophers have denied the existence of beliefs altogether. Advocates of this view, generally known as eliminativism , include Churchland , Stich in his book; he subsequently moderated his opinion , and Jenson And just as our pre-scientific theories on the latter topics were shown to be radically wrong by scientific cosmology and physics, so also will folk psychology, which is essentially still pre-scientific, be overthrown by scientific psychology and neuroscience once they have advanced far enough.
According to eliminativism, once folk psychology is overthrown, strict scientific usage will have no place for reference to most of the entities postulated by folk psychology, such as belief. Instrumentalists about belief regard belief attributions as useful for certain purposes, but hold that there are no definite underlying facts about what people really believe, or that beliefs are not robustly real, or that belief attributions are never in the strictest sense true these are not exactly equivalent positions, though they are closely related.
One sort of instrumentalism—what we might call hard instrumentalism —denies that beliefs exist in any sense. Hard instrumentalism is thus a form of eliminativism, conjoined with the thesis that belief-talk is nonetheless instrumentally useful e. Another type of instrumentalism, which we might call soft instrumentalism , grants that beliefs are real, but only in a less robust sense than is ordinarily thought.
Dennett articulates a view of this sort. Consider as an analogy: Is the equator real? Are beliefs real? Beliefs are as real as equators, or centers of gravity, or the average Canadian. The soft instrumentalist holds that such things are not robustly real if that makes sense —not as real as mountains or masses or individual, actual Canadians. They are in some sense inventions that capture something useful in the structure of more robustly real phenomena; and yet at the same time they are not mere fictions.
For further discussion of eliminativism and the considerations for and against it, see the entry on eliminative materialism. Philosophers often distinguish dispositional from occurrent believing. This distinction depends on the more general distinction between dispositions and occurrences.
Examples of dispositional statements include:. These statements can all be true even if, at the time they are uttered, Corina is asleep, Leopold is relaxed, and no salt is actually dissolved in any water. They thus contrast with statements about particular occurrences, such as:. Although 1a-c can be true while 2a-c are false, 1a-c cannot be true unless there are conditions under which 2a-c would be true. We cannot say that Corina runs a six-minute mile unless there are conditions under which she would in fact do so.
A dispositional claim is a claim, not about anything that is actually occurring at the time, but rather that some particular thing is prone to occur, under certain circumstances. Suppose Harry thinks plaid ties are hideous. Only rarely does the thought or judgment that they are hideous actually come to the forefront of his mind. When it does, he possesses the belief occurrently.
The rest of the time, Harry possesses the belief only dispositionally. The occurrent belief comes and goes, depending on whether circumstances elicit it; the dispositional belief endures. The common representationalist warehouse model of memory and belief suggests a way of thinking about this.
When that representation is retrieved from memory for active deployment in reasoning or planning, the subject occurrently believes P. As soon as she moves to the next topic, the occurrent belief ceases. In fact, a strict dispositionalism may entail the impossibility of occurrent belief: If to believe something is to embody a particular dispositional structure, then a thought or judgment might not belong to the right category of things to count as a belief.
The thought or judgment, P , may be a manifestation of an overall dispositional structure characteristic of the belief that P , but it itself is not that structure. Though the distinction between occurrent and dispositional belief is widely employed, it is rarely treated in detail. A few important discussions are Price , Armstrong , Lycan , Searle , and Audi David Hume famously offers an account of belief that treats beliefs principally as occurrences see the section on Causation: The Positive Phase in Hume , in which he is partly followed by Braithwaite — It seems natural to say that you believe that the number of planets is less than 9, and also that the number of planets is less than 10, and also that the number of planets is less than 11, and so on, for any number greater than 8 that one cares to name.
On a simplistic reading of the representational approach, this presents a difficulty. If each belief is stored individually in representational format somewhere in the mind, it would seem that we must have a huge number of stored representations relevant to the number of planets—more than it seems plausible or necessary to attribute to an ordinary human being.
And of course this problem generalizes easily. However, representationalists have more commonly responded to this issue by drawing a distinction between explicit and implicit belief. One believes P implicitly or tacitly if one believes P , but the mind does not possess, in a belief-like way, a representation with that content.
Implicit beliefs are, perhaps, necessarily dispositional in the sense of the previous subsection, if occurrently deploying a belief requires explicitly tokening a representation of it; but explicit beliefs may plausibly be dispositional or occurrent. Thus, in the planets case, we may say that you believe explicitly that the number of planets is 8 and only implicitly that the number of planets is less than 9, less than 10, etc.
The representationalist may also grant the possibility of implicit belief, or belief without explicit representation, in cases of the following sort discussed in Dennett ; Fodor The pattern emerges as a product of various features of the hardware and software, despite its not being explicitly encoded.
While most philosophers would not want to say that any currently existing chess-playing computer literally has the belief that it should get its queen out early, it is clear that an analogous possibility could arise in the human case and thus threaten representationalism, unless representationalism makes room for a kind of emergent, implicit belief that arises from more basic structural facts in this way. However, if the representationalist grants the presence of belief whenever there is a belief-like pattern of actual or potential behavior, regardless of underlying representational structure, then the position risks collapsing into dispositionalism or interpretationism.
The issue of how to account for apparent cases of belief without explicit representation poses an underexplored challenge to representationalism. If the subject is brought back two weeks later, and has no conscious recollection of most of the word pairs on the list, then she has no explicit memory of them.
Such implicit attitudes might be revealed by emotional reactions e. For reviews, see Wittenbrink and Schwarz, eds. Gendler, for example, suggests that we regard such implicit attitudes as arational and automatic aliefs rather than genuine evidence-responsive beliefs Gendler a—b; for critique see Schwitzgebel ; Mandelbaum Quine introduced contemporary philosophy of mind to the distinction between de re and de dicto belief attributions as it is now generally called by means of examples like the following.
Ralph sees a suspicious-looking man in a trenchcoat, and concludes that that man is a spy. Unbeknownst to him, however, the man in the trenchcoat is the newly elected mayor, Bernard J. So does Ralph believe that the mayor is a spy?
There appears to be a sense in which he does and a sense in which he does not. The standard test for distinguishing de re from de dicto attributions is referential transparency or opacity. A sentence, or more accurately a position in a sentence, is held to be referentially transparent if terms or phrases in that position that refer to the same object can be freely substituted without altering the truth of the sentence.
Sentences, or positions, are referentially opaque just in case they are not transparent, that is, if the substitution of co-referring terms or phrases could potentially alter their truth value. De dicto belief attribution is held to be referentially opaque in this sense. In some contexts, the liberal substitution of co-referential terms or phrases seems permissible in ascribing belief. Shifting example, suppose Davy is a preschooler who has just met a new teacher, Mrs.
Sanchez, who is Mexican, and he finds her too strict. In a de re mood, then, we can say that Davy believes, of X , that she is too strict and Ralph believes, of Y , that he is a spy, where X is replaced by any term or phrase that picks out Mrs. Sanchez and Y is replaced by any term or phrase that picks out Ortcutt—though of course, depending on the situation, pragmatic considerations will favor the use of some terms or phrases over others.
In a strict de re sense, perhaps we can even say that Lois believes, of Clark Kent, that he is strong though she may also simultaneously believe of him that he is not strong. The standard view, then, takes belief-attributing sentences to be systematically ambiguous between a referentially opaque, de dicto structure and a referentially transparent, de re structure. Sometimes this view is conjoined with the view that de re but not de dicto belief requires some kind of direct acquaintance with the object of belief.
Jessie believes that Stalin was originally a Tsarist mole among the Bolsheviks, that her son is at school, and that she is eating a tomato. She feels different degrees of confidence with respect to these different propositions.
The first she recognizes to be a speculative historical conjecture; the second she takes for granted, though she knows it could be false; the third she regards as a near-certainty. Consequently, Jessie is more confident of the second proposition than the first and more confident of the third than the second.
We might suppose that every subject holds each of her beliefs with some particular degree of confidence. One common way of formalizing this idea is by means of a scale from 0 to 1, where 0 indicates absolute certainty in the falsity of a proposition, 1 indicates absolute certainty in its truth, and. Standard approaches equate degree of belief with the maximum amount the subject would, or alternatively should, be willing to wager on a bet that pays nothing if the proposition is false and 1 unit if the proposition is true.
Such a formalized approach to degree of belief has proven useful in decision theory, game theory, and economics. Standard philosophical treatments of this topic include Jeffrey and Skyrms The dispositionalist or interpretationist, for example, might regard exhibitions of confidence and attitudes toward risk as only part of the overall pattern underwriting belief ascription.
Similarly, the representationalist might hold that readiness to deploy a representation in belief-like ways need not line up perfectly with betting behavior. Philosophers have sometimes drawn a distinction between acceptance and belief. Generally speaking, acceptance is held to be more under the voluntary control of the subject than belief and more directly tied to a particular practical action in a context. For example, a scientist, faced with evidence supporting a theory, evidence acknowledged not to be completely decisive, may choose to accept the theory or not to accept it.
If the theory is accepted, the scientist ceases inquiring into its truth and becomes willing to ground her own research and interpretations in that theory; the contrary if the theory is not accepted. If one is about to use a ladder to climb to a height, one may check the stability of the ladder in various ways.
At some point, one accepts that the ladder is stable and climbs it. In both of these examples, acceptance involves a decision to cease inquiry and to act as though the matter is settled. This does not, of course, rule out the possibility of re-opening the question if new evidence comes to light or a new set of risks arise.
The distinction between acceptance and belief can be supported by appeal to cases in which one accepts a proposition without believing it and cases in which one believes a proposition without accepting it.