Naturalizing the Mind skillfully develops a representational theory of the qualitative, the phenomenal, the what-it-is-like aspects of the mind that have defied traditional forms of naturalism. How can the baffling problems of phenomenal experience be accounted for? In this provocative book, Fred Dretske argues that to achieve an understanding of the mind it is not enough to understand the biological machinery by means of which the mind does its job. One must understand what the mind's job is and how this task can be performed by a physical system—the nervous system.
|Published (Last):||5 March 2010|
|PDF File Size:||9.42 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||18.82 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
He changed his mind after taking the university's only philosophy course, deciding philosophy was the only thing he wanted to do in his life. After graduating in with a degree in electrical engineering and serving in the Army, he enrolled in graduate school in philosophy at the University of Minnesota , where he received his PhD in His dissertation, supervised by May Brodbeck , was on the philosophy of time. Dretske's first academic appointment was to the University of Wisconsin—Madison in , where he rose to the rank of full Professor.
Dretske held externalist views about the mind, and thus he tried in various writings to show that by means of mere introspection one actually learns about his or her own mind less than might be expected. His later work centered on conscious experience and self-knowledge, and he was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize in Dretske's first book, Seeing and Knowing , deals with the question of what is required to know that something is the case on the basis of what is seen.
According to the theory presented in Seeing and Knowing, for a subject S to be able to see that an object b has property P is:.
For instance, for me to see that the soup is boiling — to know, by seeing, that it is boiling — is for the soup to be boiling, for me to see the soup, for the conditions under which I see the soup to be such that it would not look the way it does were it not boiling, and for me to believe that the soup is boiling on that basis.
Dretske's next book returned to the topic of knowledge gained via perception but substantially changes the theory. Dretske had become convinced that information theory was required to make sense of knowledge and also belief. He signaled this change at the beginning of the new book, opening the Preface with the lines "In the beginning there was information.
The word came later. Dretske offers the following theory of information:. Thus, for a red light r to carry the information that a goal s has been scored is F is for the probability that a goal has been scored, given that the light is red and given my background knowledge of the world, k , to be 1 but less than 1 given just my background knowledge. His theory of knowledge thus replaced conscious appearances with the idea that the visual state of the observer carries information, thereby minimizing appeal to the mysteries of consciousness in explaining knowledge.
Dretske's work on belief begins in the last third of Knowledge and the Flow of Information,  but the theory changed again in the book that followed, Explaining Behavior There Dretske claims that actions are the causing of movements by mental states, rather than the movements themselves.
For the meaning — the content — of a belief to explain an action, on this view, is for the content of the belief to explain why it is that the mental state is part of a process that leads to the movement it does. According to Explaining Behavior , a belief that s is F is a brain state that has been recruited through operant conditioning to be part of movement-causing processes because of the fact that it did, when recruited, carry the information that s is F.
Beliefs are thus mental representations that contribute to movement production because of their contents saying P is why the brain state is recruited to cause movement , and so form components of the process known as acting for a reason. An important feature of Dretske's account of belief is that, although brain states are recruited to control action because they carry information, there is no guarantee that they will continue to do so.
Yet, once they have been recruited for carrying information, they have the function of carrying information, and continue to have that function even if they no longer carry information. This is how misrepresentation enters the world. Dretske's last monograph was on consciousness. Between the representational theory of belief, desire, and action in Explaining Behavior and the representational theory of consciousness found in Naturalizing the Mind, Dretske aimed to give full support to what he calls the "Representational Thesis".
This is the claim that:. In Naturalizing the Mind Dretske argues that when a brain state acquires, through natural selection, the function of carrying information, then it is a mental representation suited with certain provisos to being a state of consciousness.
Representations that get their functions through being recruited by operant conditioning, on the other hand, are beliefs, just as he held in Explaining Behavior.
In addition to the subjects tackled in Dretske's book-length projects, he was also known as a leading proponent, along with David Armstrong and Michael Tooley , of the view that laws of nature are relations among universals. In his article "Epistemic Operators", Fred Dretske discusses epistemic closure and its relationship to philosophical skepticism.
The principle of epistemic closure holds the following to be valid:. Epistemic closure, however, is vulnerable to exploitation by the skeptic. Eating oatmeal entails not eating scrambled eggs. It also entails not eating scrambled eggs while being deceived by an evil demon into believing one is eating oatmeal. Because John does not have evidence to suggest that he is not being deceived by an evil demon, the skeptic argues that John does not know he is eating oatmeal.
To combat this attack by the skeptic, Dretske develops relevant alternatives theory RAT. RAT holds that an agent need only be able to rule out all relevant alternatives in order to possess knowledge. Also entailed by a knowledge claim are irrelevant alternatives. The skeptic's alternatives fall into this irrelevant category.
The following applies RAT to Johns oatmeal:. Although it provides a defense from the skeptic, RAT requires a denial of the principle of epistemic closure. Epistemic closure does not hold if one does not know all of the known entailments of a knowledge claim. The denial of epistemic closure is rejected by many philosophers who regard the principle as intuitive. Another issue with RAT is how one defines "relevant alternatives. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Fred Irwin Dretske. Waukegan, Illinois. Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. Thoemmes Continuum. Retrieved Archived from the original on Analytic philosophy. Epistemology Language Mathematics Science. Aretaic Linguistic. Classical Mathematical Non-classical Philosophical. Charlie Broad Norman Malcolm G. Ramsey Ludwig Wittgenstein. Anscombe J. Austin A. Ernest Nagel. Carl Gustav Hempel Hans Reichenbach.
Quine John Rawls. David Chalmers J. Mackie Peter Singer J. James F. Conant Alice Crary Cora Diamond. Category Index. Outline of epistemology Alethiology Faith and rationality Formal epistemology Meta-epistemology Philosophy of perception Philosophy of science Social epistemology.
Category Task Force Stubs Discussion. Philosophy of mind. Categories : births deaths Action theorists Analytic philosophers Philosophers of mind Epistemologists University of Minnesota alumni Duke University faculty 20th-century American philosophers 21st-century philosophers Jean Nicod Prize laureates.
Philosophy of mind Epistemology. Laws of nature are relations among universals. Areas of focus Epistemology Language Mathematics Science.
Fred Dretske obituary
He changed his mind after taking the university's only philosophy course, deciding philosophy was the only thing he wanted to do in his life. After graduating in with a degree in electrical engineering and serving in the Army, he enrolled in graduate school in philosophy at the University of Minnesota , where he received his PhD in His dissertation, supervised by May Brodbeck , was on the philosophy of time. Dretske's first academic appointment was to the University of Wisconsin—Madison in , where he rose to the rank of full Professor. Dretske held externalist views about the mind, and thus he tried in various writings to show that by means of mere introspection one actually learns about his or her own mind less than might be expected.
Drag to reposition. Fred Dretske - More details. Duke University Department of Philosophy.
Frederick Irwin Dretske
Frederick Irwin Dretske , American philosopher born Dec. A course in philosophy ignited an interest in that field, and Dretske read sufficiently in the subject during a two-year stint in the army to be admitted to the graduate program in philosophy at the University of Minnesota M. From he was a senior research scholar at Duke University , Durham. Frederick Irwin Dretske.
Similar authors to follow
The American philosopher Fred Dretske, who has died aged 80, worked mainly in epistemology, the study of knowledge, and the philosophy of mind. His first degree was in electrical engineering: in his subsequent work, he liked to use examples from engineering, and constructed theories with many well-designed parts carefully fitted together to form functioning wholes. He belonged to the naturalist tradition, discounting explanations that extend beyond the laws of nature to the supernatural or spiritual. Although he did not suppose that philosophy and science were exactly the same enterprise, he did think that philosophical theories should be scientifically respectable. And much of his work sought to show how elements of the mind are natural phenomena that can be understood in scientifically acceptable terms. In the s, epistemology was dominated by the idea that knowledge requires justification and that one can be justified in believing a false proposition. It was also widely held that one could have a belief that is both justified and true, and yet not have knowledge.