The Measure of Mind

The Measure of Mind : Propositional Attitudes and their Attribution

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The Measure of Mind provides a sustained critique of a widely held representationalist view of propositional attitudes and their role in the production of thought and behaviour. On this view, having a propositional attitude is a matter of having an explicit representation that plays a particular causal/computational role in the production of thought and behaviour. Robert J. Matthews argues that this view does not enjoy the theoretical or the empirical
support that proponents claim for it; moreover, it misconstrues the role of propositional attitude attributions in cognitive scientific theorizing. He then goes on to develop an alternative measurement-theoretic account of propositional attitudes and the sentences by which we attribute them. On this account, the
sentences by which we attribute propositional attitudes function semantically like the sentences by which we attribute a quantity of some physical magnitude (e.g., having a mass of 80 kilos). That is, in much the same way that we specify a quantity of some physical magnitude by means of its numerical representative on a measurement scale, we specify propositional attitudes by means of their representatives in a linguistically-defined measurement space.
Matthews argues that, unlike the representationalist view, his account of propositional attitudes draws a clear distinction between propositional attitudes and our natural language representations of them, and does not presume that salient properties of the latter can simply be read back onto the former. On his view, propositional attitudes turn out to be causally efficacious aptitudes for thought and behaviour, and not mental entities of some sort. In defending this approach, Matthews provides
a plausible account both of the standard philosophical puzzles about propositional attitudes, and of the role of propositional attitude attributions in cognitive scientific theorizing.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 278 pages
  • 156 x 233 x 18mm | 453g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199585539
  • 9780199585533
  • 1,587,109

Table of contents

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Review quote

Review from previous edition This fascinating book is about propositional attitudes. In it, Robert Matthews pursues, with great rigour and tenacity, the question of how we should understand our practice of attributing propositional attitudes and, in particular, the specific question of how subjects must be built (given the best available accounts of the building materials) if they are to serve as proper targets for that practice. . . . Matthews provides the
sharpest and most developed account that I have come across of how the measurement theoretic approach should be developed. * Guy Longworth, Mind *
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About Robert J. Matthews

Robert Matthews is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University
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