Pieces of Mind: The Proper Domain of Psychological Predicates

ISBN : 9780198809524

Carrie Figdor
240 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
May 2018
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Psychological terms are widely used to describe the biological world: plants, insects, bacteria colonies, even single cells are described as making decisions, anticipating rewards, and communicating with language. Carrie Figdor presents a comprehensive critical assessment of the interpretation of psychological terms across biological domains. She argues that we interpret these descriptions as literal claims about the capacities of such beings, and she argues against the anthropocentric attitude which takes human cognition as the standard for full-blooded capacities, to which nonhuman capacities are compared and found wanting. She offers an alternative view of what is required for a naturalistic explanation of the mind, and promotes finding a non-anthropocentric framework for determining distinctions in moral status. This is the first book to give a comprehensive theory of the interpretation of mental language throughout biology and to emphasize the role of mathematical modeling in the


1 Introduction
2 Cases: Qualitative Analogy
3 Cases: Quantitative Analogy
4 Literalism: An Initial Defense
5 The Nonsense View
6 The Metaphor View
7 The Technical View
8 Literalism and Mechanistic Explanation
9 Literalism and Moral Status
10 Concluding Summary

About the author: 

Carrie Figdor is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Mind & Language, Frontiers in Communication, and other leading scholarly journals. Her main philosophical interests are in philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of neuroscience, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. A former newswoman with The Associated Press, she also writes on issues in science communication.

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