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Egan, Frances, , . Wide Content
2009, In A. Beckerman, B. McLaughlin & S. Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: The author presents an overview of the main argument in favour and against content externalism, namely, roughly put, the thesis that the content of our thought is partly individuated by feature of the external environment. After providing a good survey of the debate, the author argues that the content that individuates a subject’s thought in the explanation of her behavior is wide.

Comment: The first half of the paper is very useful as an introduction on the topic of semantic and content externalism in the philosophy of mind. The remainder is an interesting and well-presented argument in favour of wide content. The first part could be used on its own for an overview of the debate; the remainder could be used for a more in-depth discussion of the positions and the arguments for them, or could serve as an option for a student essay topic.

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Hurley, Susan, , . Varieties of Externalism
2010, in The Extended Mind, ed. Richard Menary, MIT Press. 101-153.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Externalism comes in varieties. While the landscape isn’t tidy, I offer an organizing framework within which many of the forms it has taken (though perhaps not all) can be located. This taxonomy should be useful in itself. I’ll also use it to survey and compare arguments for different kinds of externalism, while probing related intuitions.

Comment: This paper offers a comprehensive taxonomy of types of externalism about mental states. It assumes some background knowledge of philosophy of mind and language, including a lot of the vocabulary of debates about content, but remains one of the easiest introductions to the positions in the debate between internalism and extended mind theory.

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Patterson, Sarah, , . The explanatory role of belief ascriptions
1990, Philosophical Studies 59 (3):313-32.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to argue that belief ascription in common- sense discourse is not uniformly non-individualistic, as Burge’s conclusion suggests. (In concentrating on belief ascriptions I follow the usual practice of treating belief as the paradigm propositional attitude.) I shall present some examples which suggest that when giving common-sense explanations of action we do not individuate thoughts with reference to agents’ linguistic environment in the manner indicated by Burge’s thought-experiment. The challenge supposedly presented to the Continuity Thesis by Burge’s thought-experiment is thus removed. I then discuss whether the mode of individuation characteristic of our explanatory practice deserves to be called individualistic, and conclude with some remarks on the expressibility of thought contents.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Wikforss, Åsa, , . Semantic Externalism and Psychological Externalism
2007, Philosophy Compass 3 (1): 158-181.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: Externalism is widely endorsed within contemporary philosophy of mind and language. Despite this, it is far from clear how the externalist thesis should be construed and, indeed, why we should accept it. In this entry I distinguish and examine three central types of externalism: what I call foundational externalism, externalist semantics, and psychological externalism. I suggest that the most plausible version of externalism is not in fact a very radical thesis and does not have any terribly interesting implications for philosophy of mind, whereas the more radical and interesting versions of externalism are quite difficult to support.

Comment: The author sheds light on what the externalist thesis in philosophy of mind actually refers to. More precisely, the author distinguishes between three varieties of externalism, namely, i) foundational externalism, ii) externalist semantics and iii) psychological externalism. After discussing these three varieties of externalism, the author argues that there is a variety of externalism which is non-radical and does not bring about any disastrous conclusion. The first half of the paper can be very useful as introduction on the topic of externalism in philosophy of mind, insofar as lots of the main argument for externalism are addressed and evaluated.

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