Philosophy of Mind Seminar (Friday - Week 8, TT23)

Philosophy of mind

The debate between internalists and externalists about mind is traditionally defined in metaphysical terms. The metaphysical way to set up the state internalist/externalist debate, however, results in misclassifications of views and implausible predictions on their implications. The general attraction of epistemic definitions of the debate has been recognised more widely in recent years (Farkas 2008; Gertler 2012; Parrott and Gomes 2019). But epistemic definitions struggle to formulate plausible versions of mental state internalism. In this paper, I defend a novel epistemic definition of the state internalist/externalist disagreement. According to the categorical epistemic definition, state internalists and externalists disagree about the possibility of “mental state switching”, i.e. whether an individual’s mental states may change with factors that are categorically beyond the sphere of readily discriminable facts of the individual in a context. Importantly, the categorical epistemic definition just defines the state internalist/externalist debate; it cannot serve as basis for substantial state internalist accounts. By emphasising the difference between an epistemic definition of the state internalist/externalist debate, on the one hand, and metaphysically committing accounts within the debate, on the other hand, the proposed definition avoids common objections.

Philosophy of Mind Seminar convenors: Mike Martin, Matthew Parrott, Will Davies and Anil Gomes