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Brains, Buddhas, and BelievingThe Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind$
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Dan Arnold

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231145473

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231145473.001.0001

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The Cognitive-Scientific Revolution

The Cognitive-Scientific Revolution

Computationalism and the Problem of Mental Causation

(p.48) 2 The Cognitive-Scientific Revolution
Brains, Buddhas, and Believing

Dan Arnold

Columbia University Press

This chapter considers the “computational” models of cognitive-scientific physicalism developed by Daniel Dennett and Jerry Fodor, particularly insofar as these philosophers aim to account for intentionality. It shows that it is particularly the problem of “mental causation” that can be taken to motivate these projects. While Dennett and Fodor both claim to provide accounts that allow us to think of intentional attitudes (like believing and judging) as somehow real, it turns out to be at the scientific level of description that all of the explanatory work is done; this is as it must be, given their sense that only things capable of involving a certain kind of causal efficacy can finally be thought real. It is, for these thinkers, only as alternatively described (in terms, e.g. of brain events) that things like “reasons” can be thought to do anything.

Keywords:   Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, cognitive-scientific physicalism, intentionality, mental causation, philosophy of mind

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