, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 147–148 | Cite as

Preface to Mental Causation, Externalism and Self-Knowledge

  • Albert Newen
  • Vera Hoffmann
  • Michael Esfeld

A deep-rooted presumption about the human mind and human agency is that mental states have significant causal influence on the way people act: When we perceive a person as performing a certain action, e.g. as reaching for a glass of water, we cannot but assume that her behaviour is driven by her thoughts, convictions, wishes or feelings, e.g. by the desire to have a drink of water. In particular, we presume that the contents of a person’s thoughts causally influence her outward physical behaviour: The person’s belief that the glass in front of her contains water, rather than machine oil, causes her reaching for the glass to quench her thirst. At the same time, it is commonly supposed that we have privileged access to our mental states, including beliefs and desires, without having to draw on empirical evidence: If a person believes that the glass in front of her contains water and desires to have a drink, she does not have to rely on empirical observation of her body and environment...


Mental State Empirical Observation Mental Property Mental Causation Privilege Access 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Philosophie der Universität BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Université de Lausanne, Section de PhilosophieLausanneSwitzerland

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