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The Unconscious Mind Worry: A Mechanistic-Explanatory Strategy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 April 2022

Beate Krickel*
Institute of History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Literature, Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany


Recent findings in different areas of psychology and cognitive science have brought the unconscious mind back to center stage. However, the unconscious mind worry remains: What renders unconscious phenomena mental? I suggest a new strategy for answering this question, which rests on the idea that categorizing unconscious phenomena as “mental” should be scientifically useful relative to the explanatory research goals. I argue that this is the case if by categorizing an unconscious phenomenon as “mental” one picks out explanatorily relevant similarities to a corresponding paradigmatically mental conscious phenomenon. Explanatory relevance is spelled out in terms of mechanistic norms.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association

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