philosophy, analytic philosophy, history of philosophy


Bernard Bolzano's philosophy of mind is closely related to his metaphysical conceptions of substance, adherence and force. Questions as to how the mind is working are treated in terms of efficient (causal) faculties producing simple and complex representations, conclusive and non-conclusive judgments, and meta-representational attitudes such as believing and knowing. My paper outlines the proximity of Bolzano's account of "mental forces" to contemporary accounts of faculty psychology such as Modularity Theory and Simple Heuristics. While the modularist notions of domain specificity and encapsulated mental faculties align with Bolzano's allotment of domain specific tasks to correspondingly specified psychological forces (e.g. judging to "judgmental force", inferring to "inferential force" etc.), the emphasis of Simple Heuristics on accurate "fast and frugal" processes aligns with Bolzano's views regarding cognitive resources and the importance of epistemic economy. The paper attempts to show how Bolzano's metaphysics of mind supposes a conception of bound rationality that determines his epistemology. Combining the rationalist concern for epistemic agent responsibility in the pursuit of knowledge with a strong confidence in the reliability of causal processes to generate the right beliefs, his epistemology shows close affinities with contemporary Virtue Epistemology. According to Virtue Epistemology, knowledge requires that true beliefs be generated by reliable processes typical of a virtuous character. The thesis that Bolzano anticipates virtue epistemological considerations is corroborated by his discussion of heuristic principles that set the norms for the acquisition of knowledge. The paper explores possible relations between such principles and the presumed low-level heuristics of cognitive processes.

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