The focus of Janice Dowell’s interest in the philosophy of mind has been on how best to formulate the thesis of physicalism and on what would be required to show that some property is fundamentally physical. With respect to the former, she defends an empirical definition of the physical, one that ties being fundamentally physical with being a posit of the complete and ideal physical theory. She gives that familiar strategy for defining “the physical” an unfamiliar implementation by arguing that we should understand what it takes to be a physical theory in terms of the subject matter distinctive of physics, together with an account of what makes scientific theories scientific. One advantage of the clarity of the resulting formulation is that it makes clear which of the ways the world might turn out to be are ways that would falsify physicalism. This gives it an advantage over previous attempts to tie our concept of a physical property to the properties our best physical theories posit.
John Gibbons’ interests in the philosophy of mind seem to be a rather diverse lot. There’s the attempt to reconcile non-reductive materialism with the causal relevance of the mental by taking seriously the notion of a level (the mental level, the biological level, the physical etc.). There’s reconciling content externalism with ordinary self-knowledge about our own mental states. And there’s the idea that knowledge itself is a mental state that plays an ineliminable role in the explanation of intentional action. The underlying theme is a normative conception of the mental. The mind is the one place on earth where things really do happen for a reason, and happening for a reason has both a causal and a normative side. And if reasons reach all the way out to the world, which of course they must, then the mind reaches just as far.
Joe Mendola’s Anti-Externalism (Oxford: 2008) argues that internalism is true, which is to say that all the conditions that constitute someone’s current thoughts and sensations with their characteristic contents are internal to that person’s skin and contemporaneous. Anti-Externalism was the subject of a book symposium at the 2010 Pacific APA meeting, with Mark Richard, David Hilbert, and Gary Ebbs, which is forthcoming in Analytic Philosophy. Human Thought (Kluwer: 1997) develops an account of mental content that is a form of semantic two-dimensionalism. Mendola is working now on conscious experience, ontology, and the interpretation of physical theories, and thinks it will all be one book someday