The Measure of Mind: Propositional Attitudes and their Attribution

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At the same time, it has been pointed out that expectations present themselves as demands to the world and others. The third characteristic that will be pointed out here involves the relationship between expectations and the events that unfulfill them: 12 when having legitimate requirements from the world and others, in the case that they are unfulfilled, searching for an explanation of what has happened is rational.

This comparison can have three different results: a consonance between event and expectation, a dissonance between them, or that the event is not consonant nor dissonant, but neutral. In the last case, the expectation is irrelevant as a standard to assess the event e. On the other hand, the difference between the other two cases is gradual, that is, depending on the expectation.


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It can be more or less unfulfilled and more or less fulfilled, while also cases of complete consonance or dissonance may be found. In this model, to be disposed to i. Antonio is not at the established place and time. This leads to the possibility of searching for an explanation e.

Antonio has broken his promise, and that is morally wrong. This will be further discussed in the following section. Three characteristics that allow treating them all as expectations have also been mentioned: that they suppose a demand; that they are about legitimate requirements; and that, in case of dissonance with an event, an explanation can be sought. A classic distinction, although formulated in different ways, differentiates between cognitive and normative expectations.

Normativity is a characteristic of them all, not of only a class of them and, viewed this way, there are no non-normative expectations. These are different reactions from the search of an explanation, a common reaction to all expectations whether or not the unfulfillment is unbearable. In this sense, both Johan Galtung and Katarzyna Paprzycka, define the distinction between normative and cognitive expectations by using the notion of direction of fit.

This means that if an event unfulfills a cognitive expectation, the expectation is usually abandoned or redefined, because it is considered false. Galtung points out that in the case of unfulfillment of normative expectations formed when facing other people, politics of social control are taken or simply the individual to whom the event that causes the dissonance has been attributed is ignored, all these actions have the goal of avoiding future dissonances.

This is not a dichotomic distinction, but a gradual one. The origin of an expectation affects its legitimacy, the type of evaluation at stake and the resistance that expectations present when facing their unfulfillment. Expectations may be formed by personal observation of certain regularities, by what our parents tell us, what we see on television, what we learn on the street, what we are taught in school, what the law says, and what scientific knowledge states as established, among many other things.

The origin of an expectation, together with the reasons that support its adoption, allows the identification of the kind of evaluation carried out when expectations are used as standards e.

Attribution Theories

Mellema points out that a characteristic of this type of expectations is that the language of obligation appears appropriate to express them. At the same time, in the case of unfulfillment, a punishment is considered a suitable reaction. Cases of such expectations are the ones formed by the rules of a club, religious institutions, or legal codes. This, also, assumes many times requirements are far from what can reasonably be carried out e. Finally, in this kind of expectations, the most common explanation of the event that unfulfills it is its attribution to a person i.

This way in which the three characteristics are manifested is not the only one. A similar analysis can be done of the other expectations that have been mentioned. They are one of the most common ways of normalizing reality, allowing us to orientate our conduct. This is what we have in mind when we say that the dissonance between an expectation and an event is always present in responsibility processes.

Therefore, when a person holds another responsible, she does it under the appreciation that an expectation has been breached and that the breach is explained by attributing the event to the person held responsible. Therefore, we can say that the dissonance between an expectation and an event is always present in responsibility processes.

Nonetheless, not every dissonance results in holding someone responsible. Not every relevant event can be ascribed to a person. If the breach of an expectation cannot be attributed to someone, then we do not have someone responsible for it. On the contrary, a broad range of expectations, can lead to processes of attribution of responsibility.

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Robert Matthews, The Measure of Mind: Propositional Attitudes and their Attribution - PhilPapers

As has been pointed out, expectations have diverse origins and find support in different kinds of reasons. In fact, the same event can be related to different kinds of expectations, and be evaluated in different manners. Also, in principle, this broad range can be related to practices of attribution of responsibility. At the same time, the breach of such standards would trigger reactive attitudes, justifying the search for a person that is responsible.

To finish this work, I would like to examine what seems a legitimate question in this context, Why not simply talk of obligations or conduct rules instead of expectations? They are usually manifested as criminal offences. According to this author, conduct rules have, first, a configuration function, being its mission to influence on and to shape people lives. The other is a measurement scale function, directed to the judge in a broad sense who evaluates the events ex post facto , using the measure given by the norms.

But there are reasons that can make us inclined to talk about expectations rather than conduct rules in the context of attribution of responsibility practices.

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One of those reasons concerns the scope of the approach defended in this work. My concern is with standards that are present not only in criminal law, but in other areas of law and morals as well. The domain of expectations is broader than that of conduct rules, at least in the way in which they are understood by the quoted authors. A couple of examples to illustrate this idea can be useful.

Although having these expectations, legitimate in both cases, it cannot be said that the people sitting at a table, or the person writing the recommendation are morally obliged to do what is expected from them. Mellema points out that this type of expectations, which are not comparable to moral duties, can be recognized because, when facing them, the correct reaction in terms of sanction is usually less intense. Thus, for example, instead of being expressed through blaming, it is expressed through disappointment.

But a less intense reaction, does not mean that the one to whom the unfulfillment of the expectation is ascribed is not being held responsible. So, not every expectation that generates responsibility is an obligation. One can be responsible of things to which one does not have a duty, or at least, it is better to make room for this possibility. According to Kelsen, obligations determine the existence of delicts, and only the person who has an obligation can commit a delict. Although the sanction is connected to the delict by imputation, the responsible person and the person with the obligation do not have to coincide.

In fact, it is precisely this distinction what allows to explain cases of vicarious responsibility, where the one held responsible is a different person than the one that commits the delict. On the contrary, on many occasions, people are held responsible on the basis of their relationship with objects and others, or only considering causal relations that link them to the event in question, independent of their actions.


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In these cases, relevant expectations do not refer to actions of individuals, but to certain facts that are considered harmful o dangerous, e. Also, the search for an explanation allows us to open the door to the ascription of the event that unfulfills the expectation to a person, whether that person who has or has not the one that commits an illicit conduct. Also, one can discuss about the event: what are its relevant characteristics e.

In addition, whether the event has really a sufficient relation i.

Measure of Mind (eBook)

I also wish to thank all those who participated in the discussions on these topics in Girona, Edinburgh and Barcelona. Finally, I wish to thank two anonymous referees of Revus for their penetrating and useful comments. Gertrude E. Cambridge Mass. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective. New York: Oxford University Press. Inquiry: An interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 2 1—4. The Legacy of H. Hart: Legal, Political, and Moral Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press Pons. California Law Review 3.

USA: Blackwell. Herbert L. On this account, the sentences by which we attribute propositional attitudes function semantically like the sentences by which we attribute a quantity of some physical magnitude e. That is, in much the same way that we specify a quantity of some physical magnitude by means of its numericalrepresentative on a measurement scale, we specify propositional attitude of a given type by means of its representative in a linguistically-defined measurement space.

Propositional attitudes turn out to be causally efficacious aptitudes for thought and behaviour, not semantically evaluable mental particulars of somesort. Matthews' measurement-theoretic account provides a more plausible view of the explanatorily relevant properties of propositional attitudes, the semantics of propositional attitude attributions, and the role of such attributions in computational cognitive scientific theorizing. Wie bewerten Sie den Artikel? Bitte geben Sie Daten ein: Name oder Pseudonym. Ort optional. Bewertung abgeben. Mehr entdecken aus dem Bereich.

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