Event Detail

Thu Apr 7, 2016
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Pamela Hieronymi (UCLA)

In this paper I clarify and defend a strange-sounding claim that underwrites the strategy of Minds that Matter [book in progress]: the claim that certain states of mind, such as belief and intention, states which are often thought of as dispositions, are themselves activities—in particular, that they are, or embody, the activity of settling a question or set of questions. I support the claim with two moves: First, I hope to show it far less costly than it might appear. Though identifying a disposition with an activity might seem to commit a sort of category mistake, we can avoid this difficulty by freeing ourselves from the assumption that all activities must involve unfolding processes of change—that activities must be dynamic. Second, I hope to show that denying it is costly. Not only does its denial ensnare us in the free will problem, but it also leaves us with an alienated picture of our relation to those states of mind for which we are answerable. Having clarified and defended the strange-sounding claim, I end with a more controversial suggestion: that in our psychological investigations we should see a fundamental division between states of mind that belong essentially to socialized creatures and those that do not.