Metaphysics of the Bayesian Mind

Mind and Language (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Recent years have seen a Bayesian revolution in cognitive science. This should be of interest to metaphysicians of science, whose naturalist project involves working out the metaphysical implications of our leading scientific accounts, and in advancing our understanding of those accounts by drawing on the metaphysical frameworks developed by philosophers. Toward these ends, in this paper I develop a metaphysics of the Bayesian mind. My central claim is that the Bayesian approach supports a novel empirical argument for normativism, the thesis that belief has a normative essence, with the norms in question being those of rationality. The argument I develop draws in part on the causal powers subset account of realization defended by Wilson and Shoemaker, with the link being that Bayesians often appeal to Marr’s framework of levels of analysis, which carries with it multiple realizability claims that can be understood in terms of the subset model. I then use the view developed, with its appeal to normativism and subset realization, to explain how Bayesians can accommodate empirical findings of irrationality that are sometimes thought to pose a problem for their view.

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Justin Tiehen
University of Puget Sound

References found in this work

Real patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Why be rational.Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
Special sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.

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