Can Fictional Superhuman Agents have Mental States?

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.

Help

 

Have Institutional Access?

Login with your institution. Any other coaching guidance?

Connect

Abstract

According to Deborah Tollefsen, from the analytic perspective called “interpretivism”, there is a reasonable way in which groups can be said to have mental states. She bases her argument on the every-day use of language, where people speak as if groups have states such as intentions, desires and wishes. Such propositional attitudes form the basis of any account of truth-conditional semantics, the rules by which people grasp the conditions under which an utterance is true. If groups (abstract units of people) have mental states, perhaps superhuman agents have them too. One argument that may contradict this premise is one that says that, whereas groups exist, superhuman agents do not. However, if groups exist on the basis of normative narratives about them and the institutionalized actions they carry out in the world, the same can be said for superhuman agents. They are like legal fictions: fictional but real. Superhuman agents are fictional and real in a similar sense as groups.1

Sections
References
  • AdamsFredGary Fuller and Robert Stecker. (1997). The semantics of fictional names. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (2): 128-148.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BarrettJustin L. (2008). Why Santa Claus is not a god. Journal of Cognition & Culture 8 (1/2): 149-161.

  • BialeckiJon. (2014). Does God exist in methodological atheism? On Tanya Lurhmann’s when God talks back and Bruno Latour. Anthropology of Consciousness 25 (1): 32-52.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DavidsonDonald. (1974 (1984)). On the very idea of a conceptual scheme. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation183-198. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DavidsonDonald.(1978 (1984)). What metaphors mean. In Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation245-264. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • DavidsonDonald. (1982 (2001)). Rational animals. In Subjective Intersubjective Objective95-105. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DavidsonDonald. (1983 (2001)). A coherence theory of truth and knowledge. In Subjective Intersubjective Objective137-153. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DavidsonDonald. (1986). A nice derangement of epitaphs. In E. Lepore (ed.) Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson433-446. Oxford: Blackwell.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DavidsonDonald. (1987 (2001)). Afterthoughts. In Subjective Intersubjective Objective154-157. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • DennettD.C. (1987). The Intentional Stance. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • DennettD.C. (1991). Real patterns. The Journal of Philosophy 88 (1): 27-51.

  • DennettD.C. (1992). The self as a center of narrative gravity. In F.S. KesselP.M. Cole and D.L. Johnson (eds.) Self and Consciousness: Multiple Perspectives103-115. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DennettD.C. (2011). Intentional systems theory. In B.P. McLaughlinA. Beckermann and S. Walter (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind339-350. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EcoUmberto. (2009). On the ontology of fictional characters: a semiotic approach. Kirjanduslike Kangelaste Ontoloogiast: Semiootiline Lähenemine. 37 (1/2): 82-98.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FrankenberryN.K. and H.H. Penner. 1999. Clifford Geertz’s long-lasting moods, motivations, and metaphysical conceptions. The Journal of Religion 79 (4): 617-640.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GardinerMark Q. and Steven Engler. (2008). Review essay: Nancy K. Frankenberry (ed.) Radical Interpretation in Religion. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 20 (2): 185-190.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GoodmanJeffrey. (2013). Creatures of fiction, objects of myth. Analysis 74 (1): 35-40.

  • HarrisSam. (2015). The multiverse & you (& you & you & you…): a conversation with Max Tegmark. In Waking Up. September 23 2015. https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/the-multiverse-you-you-you-you.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HaugelandJohn. (1990). The intentionality all-stars. Philosophical Perspectives 4: 383-427.

  • HunterGraeme. 2005. Radical Protestantism in Spinoza’s Thought. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  • JonasHans. (1966 (2001)). The Phenomenon of Life; Toward a Philosophical Biology. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KrasnerDaniel A. (2002). Semantics and fiction. Erkenntnis (1975-) 57 (2): 259-275.

  • LevyGabriel. (2012). False but significant: the development of falsity in religious cognition in light of the holism of the mental. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 24 (2): 143-165.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LevyGabriel. (2014). Judaic Technologies of the Word. New York: Routledge.

  • MlodinowLeonard. (2015). The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos. New York: Pantheon Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MölderBruno. (2010). Mind Ascribed: An Elaboration and Defence of Interpretivism Advances in Consciousness Research (Aicr). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ParsonsTerence. (1982). Fregean theories of fictional objects. Topoi 1 (1-2): 81-87.

  • PennerHans H. (1995). Why does semantics matter to the study of religion? Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 7 (3): 221-249.

  • PurzyckiBenjamin Grant and Aiyana K. Willard. (2015). MCI theory: a critical discussion. Religion Brain & Behavior 6 (3): 207-248.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PyysiainenIlkka. (2003). True fiction: philosophy and psychology of religious belief. Philosophical Psychology 16 (3): 109-125.

  • QuineW.V. (1951 (1953)). Two dogmas of empiricism. In From a Logical Point of View20-46. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • RussellYvan I and Fernand Gobet. (2013). What Is counterintuitive? Religious cognition and natural expectation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4): 715-749.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SainsburyR.M. (2010). Fiction and Fictionalism. New York: Routledge.

  • SalisFiora. (2013). Fictional names and the problem of intersubjective identification. Dialectica 67 (3): 283-301.

  • SalmonNathan U. (2005). Metaphysics Mathematics and Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • ShannonClaude E. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication. Bell System Technical Journal. 27 (3): 379-423.

  • TambiahStanley. 1990. Magic Science and Religion and the Scope of Rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • ThomassonAmie L. (2003). Speaking of fictional characters. Dialectica 57 (2): 205-223.

  • TollefsenDeborah. (2015). Groups as Agents. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Accessed as E-book with Google Play (John Wiley & Sons Copyright).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VacarescuTheodora-Eliza. (2015). What’s in a name? Modest considerations on the situatedness of language and meaning. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 3 (9): 124-135.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VonnegutKurt. (1997). Timequake. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Figures
Index Card
Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 141 141 8
Full Text Views 211 211 1
PDF Downloads 18 18 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0