The Unconscious Mind Worry: A Mechanistic-Explanatory Strategy

Philosophy of Science:1-45 (forthcoming)
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Recent findings in different areas of psychology and cognitive science have brought the discussion of the unconscious mind back to center stage. However, the unconscious mind worry remains: What renders unconscious phenomena mental? In the present paper, I will suggest a new strategy for answering this question. This strategy rests on the idea that categorizing unconscious phenomena as “mental” should come out as scientifically useful relative to the explanatory goals of unconscious mind research. I will argue that this is the case if by categorizing an unconscious phenomenon as “mental” one picks out explanatorily relevant similarities between that phenomenon and a corresponding paradigmatically mental phenomenon, i.e., a conscious one. Explanatory relevance is spelled out in terms of the mechanistic norms of scientific explanation.
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