Folk Psychology

Discipline: Philosophy

Term used in recent philosophy of mind for the view that beliefs, desires and so on exist and operate much as common sense assumes they do; that is, the operations of the mind can be adequately explained in terms of such notions, or (more strongly) that they cannot be adequately explained without them.

Strictly the term refers to such explanations themselves rather than to claims about their adequacy, but it is given point by recent claims that beliefs, desires and so on not only play no essential part in explaining mental phenomena, but do not even exist; that is, no phenomenon, and no set of features of our mental life, corresponds to our use of words like 'belief and 'desire'.

Strictly, therefore, such use is, on this view, incoherent, though harmless for ordinary purposes. 'Folk psychology' is an analogue in philosophy of mind of naive realism in epistemology.

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