Mind Over Matter? : Saving the Causal Efficacy Oo Intentional Mental Content on Twin Earths

Molly Fassler, Scripps College


It is commonly held that any plausible psychological theory, that is, any theory that accounts for human behavior, should do so at least partially by invoking an individual’s beliefs and desires as causes of her behavior. However, in the paper that follows, I will show how this standard seems problematic if one is simultaneously convinced, as many are and for good reason, that the content of one’s thoughts is determined at least in part by factors external to the individual. While some philosophers argue that this apparent conflict can be easily dissolved while maintaining both accounts, others hold that one of the accounts must be resigned in order to resolve the apparent issue. Before stating my own proposed solution, I will first give a more detailed illustration of apparent problem. I will then go on to describe Jaegwon Kim’s proposed solution, as well as Tyler Burge’s response, which urges us to denounce Kim’s solution. To end, I will propose that ultimately, Kim’s solution fails to account for the evidence at hand, and that Burge’s solution is not only more sound, but has the extra perk of being palatable as a human who believes she is rational.