Volume 45, 2018
Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences
The Contribution of Philosophy of Mind to Empirical Theories in Cognitive Science
It has been argued that philosophical theories in the philosophy of mind necessarily require empirical theories in cognitive science or cognitive neuroscience to be validated (cf. Davies 2000). This is indeed an unexpected relation between philosophy and science, since it is widely assumed nowadays – quite apart from Quinean qualms – that philosophical claims are largely a priori just in that their justification proceeds along paths which are independent of empirical investigations. I will defend that the case of attention provides further confirmation of a position which is similar to Davies’s, but it shows at the same time that we should subscribe to a weaker version that has to do with the possibility of an eliminativist attitude towards the philosophical theory and the entities postulated in it. However, I will try to show that the case studies concerning attention show that this possibility, though it should not be excluded, is rather remote due to the fact that philosophical theories of mental phenomena are typically related to one in a set of different possible empirical theories. I will also try to show that this relation arises in at least one rather interestingly different way, in addition to the one involved in the case studies discussed by Davies.