Information and the Fragmented Mind
funded by: Federal State of Styria
Head of Project: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Marian David
Start: 1 September 2014
End: 30 November 2015
Information becomes knowledge when it is cognitively available in thought in various contexts – when it can be integrated with other information, be evaluated, and used in reasoning. This project investigates the cognitive underpinnings of human information processing. It develops the hypothesis that the human mind is fragmented. That the human mind is unified is a presupposition in many areas of scientific inquiry. In particular, the assumption that a single agent's total beliefs are consistent and include their deductive consequences is common to Bayesian probability-based accounts of human belief as well as to game-theoretic models of decision making. However entrenched this assumption of the mind's unity may be, it is clear that it is a striking misdescription of the reality of human belief and agency. The goal of this project is to provide a more realistic foundation for the analysis of belief. We propose to explore and develop the hypothesis that the human mind – belief in particular – is fragmented: that a single agent has various separate systems of belief, which need not make for a consistent and deductively closed overall belief state of the agent. The project objective is to use the hypothesis to solve a number of open puzzles and problem cases in philosophy, and to explain why more information need not result in more knowledge.