Getting the right focus for my argument
BDK: For this discussion I am just assuming EM is wrong, otherwise I wouldn't discussion propositional attitudes or inference.
I think monkeys engage in unconscious rational inference. I also think dogs have propositional attitudes. I am not sure how rational inference and propositional attitudes are related, or what you mean by rational inference. But I do think my dog has propositional attitudes (as do monkeys).
I should have said if EM were true, I wouldn't engage in talk about PA's. Inference is something the EMers believe in! I don't think you have to be conscious of an inference to make an inference. So you caould have PA's, make inferences, and not know that is what you are doing, not know anything about PA psychology. Like a monkey when it is reasoning about how to get that bananna, stacks the boxes, so it can reach the bananna even though it hasn't been in that situation before. It is making rational inference, but doesn't know that's what it is doing.
VR: Here it seems to me that people on opposite sides of the philosophy of mind debate get hung up because their philosophical disagreement goes down to the understand of the terms we use.
Here's what I am thinking about. (Now there's a gigantic piece of folk psychology before I even get started!)
Let's take the syllogism:
All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
In order for this to work, this has to be a three-term syllogism. Each term occurs twice in the sylloogism, and when it does, identity of meaning has to hold between the occurrences, otherwise we have four terms and an invalid argument. The fact that the physical structure of the word is identical is insufficient for identity of meaning, and not necessary either, because I could substitute an exactly synonymous word which was recognized as the same in meaning and we'd still have a valid argument. On the other hand, the identical word "Socrates" can refer to the ancient Greek philosopher in one sentence and my pet dog in the next, in which cased the validity is lost. It seems to me that for this kind of inference to take place there have to be states of some person which identify the meaning of "Socrates" in the premise with the meaning of "Socrates" in the conclusion. If the mind is the brain, and there are rational inferences sufficient to justify us in believing that the mind is the brain, then there has to be a state of the brain that is identical to the identifying of these two meanings. Even if we do this stuff without self-consciousness sometimes, we at least have to be able to trace our thoughts and identify the meanings of those terms.
If there isn't anything that identifies the term "natural selection" such that Darwin and the rest of us can realize that there is a particular, determinate meaning that he attaches to the term throughout the Origin of Species, evolution is in trouble.
I really don't care whether you can use terms like propositional attitudes and even rational inference to other kinds of situations. I am asking, can you deny without undermining the whole damn scientific enterprise, that explicit, self-understood rational inference ever occurs. I say no. It had to have happened at least a time or two in the history of the human race. These are the intentional states, the rational inferences, the propostional attitudes that I am concentrating my attention on.