The Bodily Self, Commonsense Psychology, and the Springs of Action Chapter uri icon


  • Philosophers and cognitive scientists typically take the springs of action to be beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes, with the general idea being that action is caused by desires (or comparable pro-attitudes), guided by belief (or comparable information states). This dominant way of thinking about the springs of action goes hand in hand with the idea that we navigate the social world by tacitly applying a conceptual understanding of how beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes work. This paper puts pressure on both guiding ideas. First, it points toward ways of thinking about the springs of action that do not engage the propositional attitudes. There often seems to be a lack of fit between our best models of the representations that generate behavior and the model of representation built into propositional attitude psychology. Evidence for this lack of fit comes from range of sources, from neural network modeling to detailed studies of action control and perceptual processing. Second, and correlatively, I explore tools for achieving social understanding and social coordination that bypass the propositional attitudes. These range from direct perception of emotions to game-theoretic heuristics (such as TIT-FOR-TAT in the iterated prisoners dilemma) and what AI theorists terms scripts and frames.

author list (cited authors)

  • Bermudez, J. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Bermúdez, José Luis

Book Title

  • The Bodily Self

publication date

  • March 2018