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What are attitudes?

Workshop: Ascription, causation and the mind

Utrecht, the Netherlands, 11-12 May 2016


Various philosophical traditions make use of the idea that we ascribe mental state concepts such as beliefs, desires and intentions in order to make sense of what we say and do: our use of mental state concepts is embedded in an ascriptive practice. This general idea takes central stage in interpretationist and dispositionalist accounts of mental states such as those of Ryle, Davidson, Dennett, and more recently, Schwitzgebel. However, if ascription is a crucial aspect of our use of mental state concepts, how does this aspect relate to metaphysical claims about what mental states are? Do we ascribe states that exist independently of such ascription, or is the existence of mental states constituted by their being ascribed? And if one holds the latter, more radical view: does this leave room for a notion of mental causation? In this workshop, nine different speakers will explore the relation between mental state ascription and the metaphysics of mind from various angles.


Programme Wednesday May 11 (Academiegebouw, Belle van Zuylenzaal)

10.00                      Welcome / introduction

10.15 – 11.15           Bruno Mölder (Tartu)

“Mental causation and the ascription theory”

11.30 – 12.30           Annemarie Kalis (Utrecht)

“Some puzzles about attitudes”




14.00 – 15.00           William Child (Oxford)

“Interpretative explanation as causal explanation”

15.15 – 16.15           Fleur Jongepier (RU Nijmegen)

“The circumstance of self-knowledge”

16.30 – 17.30           Derek Strijbos (RU Nijmegen)

“Folk psychology as a structuring cause”


Programme Thursday May 12 (Academiegebouw, Kanunnikenzaal)


10.00 – 11.00           Marc Slors (RU Nijmegen)

Mental causation and the intentional stance”

11.15 – 12.15           Maria Alvarez (KCL)

“Psychological dispositions, character traits and the explanation of action”




13.45 – 14.45           Niels van Miltenburg (Utrecht)

“Agency and the Given; a case against ascription”

15.00 – 16.00           Leon de Bruin (RU Nijmegen)

“Interventionism and Mental State Ascription”


Registration: Participation and lunch are free, but spaces are limited. Please register before April 27th by sending an e-mail to Annemarie Kalis: A.Kalis@uu.nl


This workshop is organised in the context of the NWO-funded research programme ‘A role for content and mental causation in empirical psychology’ (VENI grant 275-20-046)