Neither fish nor fowl

implicit attitudes as patchy endorsements

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Implicit attitudes are mental states that appear sometimes to cause agents to act in ways that conflict with their considered beliefs. Implicit attitudes are usually held to be mere associations between representations. Recently, however, some philosophers have suggested that they are, or are very like, ordinary beliefs: they are apt to feature in properly inferential processing. This claim is important, in part because there is good reason to think that the vocabulary in which we make moral assessments of ourselves and of others is keyed to folk psychological concepts, like 'belief', and not to concepts that feature only in scientific psychology: if implicit attitudes are beliefs there is a prima facie case for thinking that they can serve as the basis for particular kinds of moral assessment. In this paper I argue that while implicit attitudes have propositional structure, their sensitivity and responsiveness to other mental representations is too patchy and fragmented for them to properly be considered beliefs. Instead, they are a sui generis kind of mental state, a state I dub patchy endorsements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)800-823
Number of pages24
JournalNous
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

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