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On how the nature of mental events may affect their role in psychological explanation

Noordhof, Paul Jonathan Pitt; (1992) On how the nature of mental events may affect their role in psychological explanation. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

An attempt is made to assess the likely role of mental events in psychological explanation. Various ways in which it might be thought that mental events are explanatorily idle are considered. Some reasons are given for singling out two arguments for special consideration. The first argument is that the physical world is causally closed, yet mental events are non-physical, hence mental events cannot be cited by psychology in the causal explanation of behaviour. To assess it, an account of the nature of the physical is put forward, and the premises that constitute the first argument refined and discussed. The existence of phenomenal and intentional properties is stated to be the main motivation for claiming that mental events are non-physical. It is claimed that there is an argument for the non-physical character of phenomenal properties based upon an understanding of awareness. In contrast, it is held that there is no reason to suppose intentional properties are non-physical. It is suggested that, given our conclusion about phenomenal properties, there is reason to reject the claim that the physical world is causally closed. The second argument holds that while psychology should only postulate explanatory entities whose occurrence is metaphysically independent of the environment in which the subject is located, some mental events with intentional properties are not independent, therefore, such mental events should not be cited in psychological explanations. It is argued that psychology should only take such an attitude to these mental events, if it is just concerned with the causal explanation of behaviour. An alternative view of psychological explanation is put forward involving, at one level, an appeal to norms, which allows the mental events mentioned an explanatory role, contrary to the original claim. Therefore, both arguments are rejected.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: On how the nature of mental events may affect their role in psychological explanation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107524
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