‘The Phenomenology of Attitudes and the Salience of Rational Role and Determination’ (2016)

Philosophical Explorations, vol. 19, pp. 114-137, 2016.

Published Version | Final Draft | PhilPapers


The recent debate on cognitive phenomenology has largely focused on phenomenal aspects connected to the content of thoughts. By contrasts, aspects pertaining to their attitude have often been neglected, despite the fact that they are distinctive of the mental kind of thought concerned and, moreover, also present in experiences and thus less contentious than purely cognitive aspects. My main goal is to identify two central and closely related aspects of attitude that are phenomenologically salient and shared by thoughts with experiences, namely the rational role that they play in our mental lives and their determination by factors external to them, such as external objects or reasons. In particular, I aim to defend Phenomenal Rationalism about judgemental thoughts and perceptual experiences: the view that their phenomenal character reflects their rational role, that is, their capacity to provide and/or respond to reasons. I conclude with some remarks about how this view may be extended to other kinds of thought and experience; and about how the phenomenological salience of the specific rational role of individual judgemental thoughts may in fact be used to formulate also an argument for the phenomenological salience of their particular propositional contents.