Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge

Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge

Julia Tanney
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 328
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge
    Book Description:

    Tanney challenges not only the cognitivist approach that has dominated philosophy and the special sciences for fifty years, but metaphysical-empirical approaches to the mind in general. Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge advocates a return to the world-involving, circumstance-dependent, normative practices where the rational mind has its home.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06783-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    The essays collected in this volume, written over the last two decades, paint a picture of rules, reason, and self-knowledge—in short, the mind—that emerges from a philosophical puzzle whose solution requires taking a close look at the initial assumptions that are responsible for its generation. Unpicking an assumption in one area tends to lead to knots in others, and the tangles they generate need to be unravelled in turn.

    This unsnarling amounts to a sustained criticism of today’s canon in philosophy of mind: a collection of views about mental phenomena and explanation that give rise to the mind-body...


    • CHAPTER ONE De-Individualizing Norms of Rationality (1995)
      (pp. 23-45)

      1. It seems to be a platitude that what makes behavior irrational is its failure to accord with some particular norm of rationality, and it seems right to say that intentional action by and large conforms to these norms. These considerations might encourage one to attempt to explain an individual’s ability to act rationally, and account for some of her lapses, by attributing to her “knowledge”—either explicit or tacit—of what the norms require. The norms of rationality in some sense govern thought and action. But is the sense in which they do this captured by construing them as...

    • CHAPTER TWO Normativity and Thought (1999)
      (pp. 46-62)

      1. In “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,” Wilfrid Sellars claims that the attempt to analyze epistemic facts in terms of nonepistemic facts is “a radical mistake—a mistake of a piece with the so-called ‘naturalistic fallacy’ in ethics.”¹ I suspect that the attempt to reduce the phenomena or otherwise account for epistemic episodes or states in terms of nonepistemic ones would also be a mistake, and that, generally speaking, the attempt to account for conceptual, intentional, or semantic phenomena in terms of nonconceptual, nonintentional, or nonsemantic phenomena would be instances of a similar error. For Sellars, what distinguishes cognitive...

    • CHAPTER THREE Playing the Rule-Following Game (2000)
      (pp. 63-87)

      1. It has been suggested that in order to make the study of meaning more manageable, we ought to consider what must be known by an individual who is able to understand and speak a language. Philosophical questions about the nature of meaning have thus transformed into questions about the form that should be taken by an idealized theory of meaning, knowledge of which would suffice to explain a speaker’s competence. Some scientifically minded linguists, psychologists, and philosophers are attracted to this way of investigating language because they are optimistic that meanings—conceived as the contents expressed by the theorems...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Real Rules (2008)
      (pp. 88-100)

      Crispin Wright has for many years expressed frustration at Wittgenstein’s “quietism”—his refusal to offer substantive answers to the metaphysical and epistemological problems that are raised, Wright alleges, by Wittgenstein’s own reflections on rules. In his most recent paper, Wright suggests this quietism can be explained by Wittgenstein’s rejection of a picture that seems to indicate Platonism and communitarianism as the only available solutions to these ostensible metaphysical and epistemological problems.¹ I agree with Wright that Wittgenstein would reject the initial assumptions that pit the realist against the communitarian, but I tell my own story on behalf of Wittgenstein about...


    • CHAPTER FIVE Why Reasons May Not Be Causes (1995)
      (pp. 103-132)

      1. Davidson’s “Actions, Reasons, and Causes” defends the ostensibly commonsensical view that rationalization is a species of causal explanation.¹ The arguments are generally considered to have put to rest Wittgensteinian anxieties about an illicit conflation of explanatory paradigms implicit in the very notion of “mental causation.” In quieting these anxieties, the arguments have served as an imprimatur for subsequent generations of realists about the mental. Mental realists construe mental predicates as picking out determinate, interpretation-independent states of affairs. Realists are encouraged by these arguments because if mental causation exists, an arguably necessary condition for realism has been met—at least,...

    • CHAPTER SIX Reason-Explanation and the Contents of the Mind (2005)
      (pp. 133-148)

      1. When we are puzzled why someone acts as she does, our puzzlement often disappears when we learn more about the circumstances in which the action takes place. Why did the woman run out of the building? The building was on fire.¹

      In being satisfied with learning about the circumstances we do not necessarily want or need to know anything more—anything more particular, say, about the agent’s point of view or state of mind. This raises the following question. In asking for explanations of actions, and in being satisfied when we learn more about the circumstances in which the...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Reasons as Non-Causal, Context-Placing Explanations (2009)
      (pp. 149-170)

      1. It is widely supposed that everyday explanations couched in terms of reasons, motives, intentions, etc. for an agent’s actions depend upon law-governed causal relations between states, events, or properties which ordinary mental terms are alleged to pick out or in causal relations between to-be-discovered “realizers” of those supposed states.¹ But this conception of the use of mental terms and of the kind of explanation they serve was disputed by philosophers influenced by Wittgenstein: those who conceived their task to be the untangling of philosophical perplexities thought to arise from inattention to logical or “grammatical” detail. Such philosophers pointed to...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Pain, Polio, and Pride: Some Reflections on “Becausal” Explanations
      (pp. 171-186)

      Both Wittgenstein and Ryle pointed to differences in the types of explanations provided by the ordinary employment of mental terms, on the one hand, and the style of causal explanation characteristic of the sciences, on the other. Their arguments, however, are ill understood. Their position does not, for example, find its place on a metaphysical map that charts the territory disputed by mental realists and their irrealist opponents. Their view, as I see it, is that the normative dimension along which our various doings, sayings, thinkings, and perceivings can be assessed should be understood, not as normative properties of “mental...


    • CHAPTER NINE How to Resist Mental Representations (1998)
      (pp. 189-207)

      1. Tim Crane’s The Mechanical Mind is a very readable, introductory book that weaves together various threads of contemporary discussions on mental representation to present a systematic and up-to-date defense of the view that mental states are physically realized, representational states that causally interact to produce other mental states and behavior in accordance with natural, irreducible laws of psychology.¹ Since the early chapters are carefully written in a style that does not presuppose a philosophical background, the later, more difficult discussions of the arguments for and against various ways of naturalizing content should still be relatively accessible to the general...

    • CHAPTER TEN On the Conceptual, Psychological, and Moral Status of Zombies, Swamp-Beings, and Other “Behaviorally Indistinguishable” Creatures (2004)
      (pp. 208-225)

      1. “Philosophical zombies,” writes Robert Kirk, “are exactly like us in all physical respects, right down to the tiniest details, but they have no conscious experiences. My zombie twin not only looks, behaves, and is disposed to behave just like me, he is a perfect particle-for-particle replica. Naturally he gets treated as if he were conscious. . . . However, this is a philosophical example, and this particular physical replica is defined as not having any conscious experiences: “all is silent and dark within.”¹ Zombies of philosophical lore are thus very different from the “living dead” zombies of horror films...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Conceptual Analysis, Theory Construction, and Philosophical Elucidation in the Philosophy of Mind
      (pp. 226-248)

      1. In 1983, Barry Stroud wrote that Wittgenstein’s reputation was largely in eclipse. This was not, Stroud said, because the major themes of his work had been appreciated and absorbed into a tradition now busily engaged in extending them in new directions. On the contrary: his major themes had been either rejected or ignored.

      The more empirical, “naturalistic” turn in the approach of many contemporary philosophers, their search for “theories” and their appeal to general “theoretical” considerations apparently continuous with natural science . . . puts [contemporary] philosophy . . . farther from the spirit as well as the letter...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Ryle’s Regress and the Philosophy of Cognitive Science (2011)
      (pp. 249-276)

      1. Ryle’s regress objection to the “Intellectualist Legend”—that intelligent activity requires prior theoretical operations—was recognized by Fodor to present a powerful conceptual obstacle to the premise that underlies cognitivist approaches in the sciences. He attempts to thwart Ryle’s argument in The Language of Thought by accusing him of confusing causal and conceptual explanations and claiming that, by analogy with computers, we can see how the appeal to explicit rules is halted at the first level since second-order rules are reducible to built-in causal processes.

      In this chapter I attempt to show that Fodor’s arguments against Ryle fail. In...


    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Some Constructivist Thoughts about Self-Knowledge (1996)
      (pp. 279-299)

      1. How are we to account for the authority granted to first-person reports of mental states? What accounts for the immediacy of these self-ascriptions—the fact that they can be ascribed without appeal to evidence and without the need for justification? A traditional, Cartesian conception of the mind, which says that our thoughts are presented to us directly, completely, and without distortion upon mere internal inspection, would account for these facts, but there is good reason to doubt the cogency of the Cartesian view. Wittgenstein, in his later writings, offered some of the most potent considerations against the traditional view,...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Self-Knowledge, Normativity, and Construction (2002)
      (pp. 300-321)

      1. Much of modern and contemporary philosophy of mind in the “analytic” tradition has presupposed, since Descartes, what might be called a realist view about the mind and the mental. According to this view there are independently existing, determinate items (states, events, dispositions, or relations) that are the truth-conferrers of our ascriptions of mental predicates.¹ The view is also a cognitivist one insofar as it holds that when we correctly ascribe such a predicate to an individual the correctness consists in the discovery of a determinate fact of the matter about the state the individual is in—a state which...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Speaking One’s Mind (2007)
      (pp. 322-333)

      Dorit Bar-On’s Speaking My Mind: Expression and Self-Knowledge is about avowals, or a particular subset of what Ryle called “unstudied talk” about oneself, which employs (in Ryle’s words) “explicit interest phrases” like “I want,” “I hope,” “I intend,” “I dislike,” “I am depressed,” “I wonder,” “I guess,” and “I feel hungry.”¹ One striking feature of avowals, noted by Ryle, is that they seem to enjoy a special kind of security from epistemic assessment or criticism. “How do you know?” or “I think you must be mistaken” or “You have been careless in your observations” do not make sense as rejoinders...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Conceptual Amorphousness, Reasons, and Causes
      (pp. 334-356)

      1. In their volume of essays on agency and action, John Hyman and Helen Steward explain in their editorial preface that philosophy of action has been dominated, throughout its recent history, by positivism and its critics. The logical empiricists such as Carnap, Neurath, and Hempel rejected the view, accepted at the time, that there is an “impassable divide” in principle between natural sciences on the one hand, and those of the mind, society, or culture on the other: the latter thought to be subjects imbued with meaning, requiring “empathic insight,” “introspection,” and other devices for “understanding the sense of meaningful...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 359-360)
  9. Provenance of Essays
    (pp. 361-364)
  10. Index
    (pp. 365-368)