Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-18-2006

Graduate Advisor

Gualtiero Piccinini, PhD

Committee

Brogaard, Berit

Gordon, Robert

Piccinini, Gualtiero

Abstract

Paul Boghossian has argued that externalist descriptions of mental content are unfit for assessments of rationality. An individual, he suggests, can comport with the principles of logic and rationality if and only if she is able to introspectively recognize the content of her thoughts and beliefs without relying on empirical evidence. Jessica Brown argues, first, that Boghossian¿s notion of rationality is unrealistic and incompatible with modern experimental data, and second, that his principles of transparency of mental content are unreasonable and, ultimately, self-defeating. In defending Boghossian¿s notion of rationality, and subsequently his transparency principles, this paper attempts to respond to Brown¿s arguments by distinguishing between two notions of rationality (weak and strong) and between two aspects of mental content (psychological and social). Acknowledging the weak notion of rationality will preserve the ordinary conception of typical subjects as rational beings, while introducing the distinction between psychological content and social content resolves the contradiction between the principles of transparency in Mates case circumstances.

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