Naturalism Meets the Personal Level: How Mixed Modelling Flattens the Mind


In this essay, it is argued that naturalism of an even moderate sort speaks strongly against a certain widely held thesis about the human mental (and cognitive) architecture: that it is divided into two distinct levels, the personal and the subpersonal, about the former of which we gain knowledge in a manner that effectively insulates such knowledge from the results of scientific research. An empirically motivated alternative is proposed, according to which the architecture is, so to speak, flattened from above. On this flattened view, although the states and processes typically associated with the personal level likely appear in our best models of the production of human behavior, they appear alongside states and processes normally associated with the subpersonal level. Moreover, the success of such models depends nowise on a levels-based distinction between the various causal contributors. It is argued that the flattened view has methodological implications of significant import.

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Robert D. Rupert
University of Colorado, Boulder


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