This is a follow up from the previous post. I’m considering not using ‘occurrent belief’ talk anymore since it either just stipulatively means conscious belief (in which case, we should just use ‘conscious belief’) or it’s just not clear what it means. (I assume that, in these discussions, the relevant kind of consciousness is phenomenal consciousness.) Let me know if you think throwing out ‘occurrent belief’ is a bad idea. (David Chalmers mentions in the comments in the previous post that phil. mind people have already gone in this direction.)
I’d like a definition of ‘conscious belief’ that gets at what epistemologists care about and also avoids difficult issues in philosophy of mind. How does this sound?
1) S’s belief that p is conscious IFF S believes that p AND S has the feeling of an endorsement that p that is a direct result of S’s belief that p.
We can also negate the second conjunct of the analysans to get the conditions for a belief’s not being conscious.
I think these issues are relevant to epistemology in the following way. When internalists talk about mental states that are accessed or accessible, I believe they are talking about mental states that are conscious or can be made conscious. This is because access internalists care about the person’s perspective on the world, what is in the person’s mind’s eye, and that is just her conscious experience. To them, unconscious mental states are relevant to epistemic justification insofar as they are accessible (can be made conscious). (Of course, mentalism leaves open the possibility that unaccessible mental states are epistemically relevant.) So, as access internalists understand ‘accessed’,
2) S’s mental state is accessed IFF S’s mental state is conscious.
3) S’s mental state is accessible IFF S’s mental state can be made conscious by S.
Let me know if anybody sees anything problematic here.