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Title: Freud, Modularity, and the Principle of Charity
Authors: Gibson, Joel
Advisors: Rey, Georges
Department/Program: Philosophy
Type: Dissertation
Sponsors: Digital Repository at the University of Maryland
University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
Subjects: Philosophy
Keywords: charity
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: Within the philosophy of mind, a `hermeneutical' tradition sees psychology as discontinuous with natural-scientific domains. A characteristic ingredient of this tendency is `normativism', which makes obedience to rational norms an a priori condition on agency. In this thesis, I advance an argument against normativism which trades on the notion of a psychological module. Specifically, I show how modules can be envisioned which, because of their high degree of irrationality, challenge the normativist's principle of charity. As an illustration, I describe such a module that incorporates key features of the Freudian `id', and I suggest that Freudian theory generally puts pressure on charity constraints. In sum, I seek to substantially undermine the hermeneutical view of the mind by attacking one of its central pillars. In Chapter 1, after setting out the essential features of hermeneuticism, I sketch the historical background of recent normativism by considering Quine's employment of charity in his theory of meaning and mind. Most centrally, I reject pragmatic and heuristic readings of Quinean charity in favor of one that sees it as a constitutive constraint on attribution. In Chapter 2, I begin to clarify the content of Davidsonian charity, against which--in the first instance--my argument levels. I identify Maximization and Threshold Principles in Davidson's early papers, contrast Davidsonian charity with Richard Grandy's Principle of Humanity, and rebut typical arguments for charity principles. In Chapter 3, after identifying two additional Davidsonian charity principles (a Competence and a Compartment Principle) and describing the conception of a module figuring in my argument, I present my argument in schematic form. Then I critique attempts to rebut my argument through excluding modular processes from the scope of normativism (notably, via a personal-subpersonal distinction). In Chapter 4, I develop my argument in detail by describing a module that embodies basic forms of Freudian wish-fulfilment and demonstrating how it violates charity principles. Further, I rebut possible objections to my use of Freudian theory. In Chapter 5, I canvass various models of Freudian phenomena more generally and suggest that a version of my argument can be run with respect to such phenomena too.
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UMD Theses and Dissertations

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