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The Philosophy of MetacognitionMental Agency and Self-Awareness$
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Joëlle Proust

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602162.001.0001

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Mental Acts as Natural Kinds

Mental Acts as Natural Kinds

Chapter:
(p.148) (p.149) 7 Mental Acts as Natural Kinds
Source:
The Philosophy of Metacognition
Author(s):

Joëlle Proust

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602162.003.0007

What are agentive mental events? An adequate characterization of mental acts should respond to three main worries: they cannot have pre-specified intentional contents; they depend crucially on receptive attitudes; intentions are rarely involved in them. Two kinds of motives must be present for a mental act to develop. The first kind is instrumental: a mental act is performed because of some basic informational need, such as the need to ‘remember the name of that play’. The second is epistemic: given the specific type of mental action performed, there is a specific epistemic norm relevant to that act. These two motives actually correspond to different norms (utility versus epistemic validity), and different phases of a single mental act. The first motivates the mental act instrumentally. The second offers an evaluation of the feasibility of the act, on the basis of its constitutive normative requirements.

Keywords:   mental act, epistemic goal, constitutive requirements, instrumental norms, error signal

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