8
The Explanation of Behaviour

8.1. An Anodyne Constraint

Everyone can agree on this constraint on theories of content: (C10) A theory of content must be harmonious with a plausible account of the way in which contentful states of mind are properly cited to explain behaviour.

(We might call this the explanation condition.) And there will be little controversy over this reason for the constraint: we explain behaviour by citing contentful states of mind; so our account of content should make that intelligible.

But this constraint and this reason for it have the flavour of a communiqué after an international summit. They blandly state the banal common ground between widely differing views.

The constraint has a more striking significance within conceptualism. It is hard to make sense of having knowledge of content without having knowledge of contentful states of mind. And we have no conception of a way of knowing about contentful states of mind which is not a matter of finding them explanatory of behaviour. The same holds even for our own case: the most direct form of awareness of our minds is in our own avowals of our states of mind; but those avowals are themselves behaviour, and they truly reveal our state of mind only if they are to be explained by the states of mind they avow.

According to the version of conceptualism which I developed in Part I, the nature of a thing is determined by what it would be to have knowledge of it. Since contentful states are only to be known as explanatory of behaviour, and content is only to be known by knowing of contentful states of mind, the nature of content is determined by the way in which contentful states of mind are explanatory of behaviour. An account of the explanation of behaviour must, therefore, be at the heart of a theory of content.

Even this conclusion would be widely accepted, with or without explicit support from conceptualism. The controversy begins over

-106-

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The Good and the True
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Notational Convention xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I- Metaphysics and Content 9
  • 1- Philosophical Theories And Metaphysical Schemes 11
  • 2- Conceptualism is Kantian 21
  • 3- Informativeness 33
  • 4- Scientism 41
  • 5- A Proposal for a Scientific Metaphysics 54
  • Part II- The Shape of a Theory Of Content 73
  • 6- What is a Theory of Content? 75
  • 7- Unified Externalism 86
  • 8- The Explanation of Behaviour 106
  • Part III- An Evaluative Theory of Content 141
  • 9- The Core of a Theory 143
  • 10- Intrinsic Assessability 182
  • 11- Truth and Virtue 214
  • 12- Understanding People 243
  • 13- Word-Meaning and Opacity 284
  • Bibliography 329
  • Index 333
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