How beliefs are like colors

Synthese 199 (3-4):7889-7918 (2021)
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Double dissociations between perceivable colors and physical properties of colored objects have led many philosophers to endorse relationalist accounts of color. I argue that there are analogous double dissociations between attitudes of belief—the beliefs that people attribute to each other in everyday life—and intrinsic cognitive states of belief—the beliefs that some cognitive scientists posit as cogs in cognitive systems—pitched at every level of psychological explanation. These dissociations provide good reason to refrain from conflating attitudes of belief with intrinsic cognitive states of belief. I suggest that interpretivism provides an attractive account of the former. Like colors, attitudes of belief evolved to be ecological signifiers, not cogs in cognitive systems.

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Devin Sanchez Curry
West Virginia University


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