The transparency of mental vehicles

Noûs:1-28 (2023)
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Modes of presentation (MOPs) are often said to have to be transparent, usually in the sense that thinkers can know solely via introspection whether or not they are deploying the same one. While there has been much discussion of threats to transparency stemming from externalism, another threat to transparency has gar- nered less attention. This novel threat arises if MOPs are robust, as I argue they should be according to internalist views of MOPs which identify them with represen- tational vehicles, such as mental files. I explain how identifying MOPs with vehicles/files threatens trans- parency, provide empirical illustrations, and critically examine some attempts to dispel the threat. Rather than abandoning transparency, I outline a way of reconciling it with a robust view of mental files which takes seriously the idea that they are targets for investigation in cogni- tive science. Transparency does not require introspective access, and rather than as an incontrovertible principle for individuating MOPs, we can view it more modestly, as an open empirical hypothesis.



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Michael Murez
Université de Nantes

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