Common Sense Naturalized

In Radu J. Bogdan & Radu Bogdan (eds.), Mind and Common Sense. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 161-206 (1991)
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Almost everybody believes, but nobody has conclusively shown, that common sense psychology is a descriptive body of knowledge about the mind, the way physics is about elementary particles or medicine about bodily conditions. Of course, common sense psychology helps itself to many notions about the mind. This does not show that common sense psychology is about the mind. Physics also helps itself to plenty of mathematical notions, without being about mathematical entities and relations. Employment of notions about the mind does not by itself establish the nature and business of common sense psychology. To find out what the latter's notions are about requires finding out what they are for. To find out what they are for, we should start by asking who employs them in what contexts and for what reasons. If we consider seriously these questions, we should not be too surprised to find out that: (1) A subject is an agent busily pursuing his worldly interests. In the process, he encodes, operates on, can be read for, and often deliberately conveys information about his current as well as past or future cognitive and behavioral states, and about the world around him, as it was, is, and could be. (2) A sense maker is also a busy agent. To pursue her worldly..



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