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Mental Actions and the No-Content Problem

O'Brien, L; (2010) Mental Actions and the No-Content Problem. In: O'Brien, Lucy and Soteriou, Matthew, (eds.) Mental Actions. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Green open access

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This chapter argues that a certain kind of object-dependent externalism can be shown to be problematic when we focus on the role of mental action in our thinking. The mental action the chapter focuses on is supposition. The problem raised for this kind of externalism is to explain what is going on when an attempt to make a supposition with a demonstrative content fails, due to the fact that there is no relevant object available to be demonstratively referred to, and hence no content to suppose. The chapter considers a number of responses to this problem the object-dependent externalist might offer, and argues that all are, in one way or another, inadequate. In particular, they fail to provide an adequate answer to the ontological question: what is going on in the mental life of the subject when this kind of failure of self-knowledge takes place?

Type: Book chapter
Title: Mental Actions and the No-Content Problem
ISBN-13: 9780199225989
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199225989.003.0011
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199225989...
Language: English
Additional information: © Lucy O'Brien and Matthew Soteriou 2009. All rights reserved. This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: no-content problem, object-dependent, kind-dependent, externalism, supposition, disjunctivism, self-knowledge
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1507891
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