Deliberation, Interpretation and Confabulation
June 19-20, 2015
Fleur Jongepier (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Naomi Kloosterboer (VU University Amsterdam)
Lena Ljucovic (University of Potsdam)
Christoph Michel (University of Stuttgart)
The role of reflection, deliberation and understanding in our lives is increasingly contested by empirical research. Whatever our higher cognitive capacities seem to tell us, they do not reflect what ‘really’ goes on in our heads. They do not determine which mental attitudes we hold, nor do they influence the actions we perform, at least not in any reliable sense. On the
contrary, it is claimed that these capacities conceal the lack of access we have to our mental lives and obfuscate the real causes of our judgments and our behavior. This claim is supported by studies on confabulation, implicit bias, choice blindness, heuristic bias, and so forth. Can we conclude from these studies that introspection is unreliable? And do they indicate that reason-responsive agency is an illusion?
The aim of this workshop is to understand and analyze the scientific claims and to discuss two possible philosophical responses to them: the interpretationist and the deliberativist approach. The interpretationist approach takes the scientific research at face value and investigates which role in our lives is left for our higher cognitive capacities. One of its central claims is that the way in which we can acquire knowledge of our own mental attitudes is similar to the way in which we acquire knowledge of the attitudes of someone else, i.e. through interpreting behavior. The deliberativist approach, by contrast, criticizes the conceptualization of our cognitive capacities underlying the scientific research and develops a
different view of those capacities. Acquiring knowledge of our mental attitudes is, according to the deliberativists, not a matter of being the best observer of those attitudes, but of determining one’s mental attitudes through deliberation.