Julia Tanney offers a sustained criticism of today’s canon in philosophy of mind, which conceives the workings of the rational mind as the outcome of causal interactions between mental states that have their bases in the brain. With its roots in physicalism and functionalism, this widely accepted view provides the philosophical foundation for the cardinal tenet of the cognitive sciences: that cognition is a form of information-processing. Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge presents a challenge not only to the cognitivist approach that has dominated philosophy and the special sciences for the last fifty years but, more broadly, to metaphysical-empirical approaches to the study of the mind.
Responding to a tradition that owes much to the writings of Davidson, early Putnam, and Fodor, Tanney challenges this orthodoxy on its own terms. In untangling its internal inadequacies, starting with the paradoxes of irrationality, she arrives at a view these philosophers were keen to rebut—one with affinities to the work of Ryle and Wittgenstein and all but invisible to those working on the cutting edge of analytic philosophy and mind research today. This is the view that rational explanations are embedded in “thick” descriptions that are themselves sophistications upon ever ascending levels of discourse, or socio-linguistic practices.
Tanney argues that conceptual cartography rather than metaphysical-scientific explanation is the basic tool for understanding the nature of the mind. Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge clears the path for a return to the world-involving, circumstance-dependent, normative practices where the rational mind has its home.
Julia Tanney provides an impressive critical analysis of the metaphysical ideas and arguments that shape contemporary philosophy of mind. Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge is essential reading for anyone with serious interests in the philosophy of mind, in philosophy of language, and in questions about the place of normativity in nature.
Julia Tanney's Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge is a radical challenge to the cognitivist paradigm in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind posed from within the paradigm itself. Tanney's grasp of theory is that of an insider, and the depth and comprehensiveness of her arguments will make the book virtually impossible to ignore.
- 384 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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