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Intentionality

Edited by Robert Rupert (University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Edinburgh)
About this topic
Summary Intentionality is a property possessed by representational states or states with content or meaning, their property of being about something. Mental states appear most prominently among the inventory of intentional items, being directed toward such varied objects as historical events, people, and numbers. When a person believes that Hitler led the Nazis, her belief is about Hitler and about the Nazis. Philosophical work on intentionality ranges from phenomenological investigations of the experience of having thoughts about objects -- including nonexistent ones -- to investigations of the semantics of sentences used to attribute mental states, to the physical or causal determinants of the semantic values of mental representations. This category subsumes work in all of these areas, as well as work in cognitive science on concepts, symbolic representations, and mental images and work in consciousness studies on the intentionality of phenomenal states (such as the what-it's-like to see red).
Key works As part of a proposal for distinguishing the subject matter of psychology from that of the physical sciences, Franz Brentano (Brentano 1874/1973) claimed that intentionality is the mark of the mental and is present in mental states themselves (not a function of their relation to something beyond the psychological realm). Although this focus on internally accessible intentional objects may have comported well enough with the introspectionist psychology of Brentano's day and may have grounded rich phenomenological projects (e.g., Husserl 1980), the rise of behaviorist psychology tended, in the Anglophone world of analytic philosophy, to work against Brentano's approach and its close cousins. Instead, many of the most influential English-language works of the twentieth century marginalized or re-interpreted intentional claims (Ryle 1949, Quine 1956). Later parts of the twentieth century, however, saw the cognitivist revolution in the empirical study of the mind and the widespread rejection of philosophical behaviorism, and these developments led to renewed interest in mental representation and, accordingly, in intentionality, particularly in the promise that we might best understand intentionality as a physical, scientifically respectable phenomenon. Thus began efforts to "naturalize" intentionality, by grounding it in information-related, nomic, causal, or evolutionary facts (Dretske 1981Fodor 1990, and Millikan 1984 provide exemplary efforts of these sorts). Recent years have seen attempts to locate intentionality closer to where Brentano and the phenomenologists envisioned, as something directly experienced in, or as an intrinsic property of, conscious thought (see, e.g., Horgan & Tienson 2002, Kriegel 2007).
Introductions Rupert 2008Fodor 1985Adams & Aizawa 2010Crane 1998Margolis & Laurence 1999
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History/traditions: Intentionality
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  1. N. G. A. & C. L. (2004). Présentation. Diogène 208 (4):2.
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  2. B. Abbott (1996). Gilles Fauconnier, Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in Natural Language. Minds and Machines 6:239-242.
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  3. Bruce Abramson (1991). On Knowledge Representation in Belief Networks. In B. Bouchon-Meunier, R. R. Yager & L. A. Zadeh (eds.), Uncertainty in Knowledge Bases. Springer. 86--96.
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  4. Juan J. Acero (1996). Attitudes, Content and Identity: A Dynamic View. In J. Ezquerro A. Clark (ed.), Philosophy and Cognitive Science: Categories, Consciousness, and Reasoning. Kluwer. 135--158.
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  5. Gilbert Achcar (2003). Présentation. Actuel Marx 1 (1):7-10.
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  6. Laird Addis (2008). Ryle and Intentionality. Metaphysica 10 (1):49-63.
    After some opening comments on how I think one should approach the philosophy of mind, I look at what relatively little Gilbert Ryle had to say explicitly about intentionality, that occurring almost exclusively in his several papers on phenomenology. Then, I discuss the notion of intentionality with respect to the doctrines of The Concept of Mind, although neither the word nor the idea, strictly speaking, appears anywhere in the book. Following more exposition of my own views, including an argument I (...)
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  7. Frederick J. Adelmann (1964). Intentionality in Brentano. Modern Schoolman 41 (4):375-383.
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  8. Hicham-Stéphane Afeissa (2006). Présentation. Philosophie 90 (2):3.
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  9. Kathleen Akins (2002). A Question of Content. In Andrew Brook & Don Ross (eds.), Daniel Dennett. Cambridge University Press. 206.
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  10. Éric Alliez (2006). Présentation. Multitudes 2 (2):13-17.
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  11. Robert Almeder (1995). Dretske's Dreadful Question. Philosophia 24 (3-4):449-457.
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  12. Charles Altieri (2001). Representation, Representativeness, and Non-Representational Art. In Ananta Charana Sukla (ed.), Art and Representation: Contributions to Contemporary Aesthetics. Praeger. 243.
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  13. Majid Amini (2011). Fodor and the Impossibility of Learning. In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  14. Jaynie Anderson (2010). Présentation. Diogène 231 (3):3.
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  15. G. E. M. Anscombe, Cora Diamond & Jenny Teichman (eds.) (1979). Intention and Intentionality: Essays in Honour of G. E. M. Anscombe. Cornell University Press.
  16. Mauro Antonelli (2012). Franz Brentano’s Intentionality Thesis. In A. Salice (ed.), Intentionality: Historical and Systematic Perspectives. Philosophia Verlag.
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  17. Richard E. Aquila (1987). Peacocke's Thoughts. Inquiry 30 (1 & 2):195 – 205.
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  18. Dan Arbib (2009). Présentation. Les Etudes Philosophiques 4 (4):451-453.
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  19. Tannis Y. Arbuckle & Louise Aznavour (1973). Effectiveness of Supplied Mediators in Relation to Presentation Modality and Retrieval Cue. Journal of Experimental Psychology 98 (2):286.
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  20. Chrudzimski Arkadiusz (1999). Are Meanings in the Head? Ingarden’s Theory of Meaning. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 30 (3):306-326.
    The title question should be construed as an epistemological and not ontological one. Omitting the difficult problems of the ontology of intentionality we will ask, if all, what is needed to explain the phenomenon of meaningful use of words, could be found “in our private head” interpreted as a sphere of specific privileged access, the sphere that is in the relevant epistemological sense subjective, private or non public. There are many “mentalistic” theories of meaning that force us to the answer: (...)
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  21. P. Sven Arvidson (2013). Restructuring Attentionality and Intentionality. Human Studies 36 (2):199-216.
    Phenomenology and experimental psychology have been largely interested in the same thing when it comes to attention. By building on the work of Aron Gurwitsch, especially his ideas of attention and restructuration, this paper attempts to articulate common ground in psychology and phenomenology of attention through discussion of a new way to think about multistability in some phenomena. What psychology views as an attentionality-intentionality phenomenon, phenomenology views as an intentionality-attentionality phenomenon. The proposal is that an awareness of this restructuring of (...)
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  22. Henri Atlan (1994). Intentionality in Nature. Against an All-Encompassing Evolutionary Paradigm: Evolutionary and Cognitive Processes Are Not Instances of the Same Process. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 24 (1):67–87.
    Three examples of theoretical analysis of evolutionary processes are presented. It is shown that the mechanisms involved have little to do with cognitive processes except for superficial and formal analogies. That is the case not only for classical models of adaptive evolution , but also for more recent ones making use of neural network computation and self-organization theories.Recent works on functional self-organization exhibiting some features of intentionality are discussed in this context. It is argued that Dennett's intentional stance cannot be (...)
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  23. Catherine Audard (2006). Presentation. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 3:281-283.
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  24. Joseph L. Austerweil & Thomas L. Griffiths (2010). Learning Hypothesis Spaces and Dimensions Through Concept Learning. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. 73--78.
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  25. Iep Author, Intentionality.
    Intentionality If I think about a piano, something in my thought picks out a piano. If I talk about cigars, something in my speech refers to cigars. This feature of thoughts and words, whereby they pick out, refer to, or are about things, is intentionality. In a word, intentionality is aboutness. Many mental states exhibit […].
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  26. Anita Avramides (1989). Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism Lynne Rudder Baker Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988. Pp. 190. $19.95 (U.S.), $9.95 (U.S.) Paper. [REVIEW] Dialogue 28 (04):693-.
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  27. M. R. Ayers (1972). Some Thoughts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73:69 - 86.
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  28. Georges Azzaria & Castets-Renard (2012). Présentation. Éthique Publique (vol. 14, n° 2).
    Les textes composant le dossier thématique de ce numéro abordent quelques facettes de la relation qu’entretiennent les technologies numéri­ques avec l’éthique. L’emprise des technologies sur une grande partie des activités humaines est aujourd’hui difficilement contestable et le monde numérique comporte son lot de pratiques et de règles, parfois en rupture avec les modèles existants. Dans ce contexte, comment faire en sorte que les diverses manifestations du numérique respectent l’éthique et,..
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  29. F. E. B. (1960). The New Testament Documents--Are They Reliable? Review of Metaphysics 14 (1):170-170.
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  30. J. P. Bahsoun, P. Fares & C. Servières (forthcoming). Multilevel Proof System for Concurrent Object-Oriented Systems 2de France-Japan Workshop on Object Based Parallel and Distributed Computing October 1997. Hermes.
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  31. Lynne Rudder Baker (1991). [Book Review] Saving Belief, a Critique of Physicalism. [REVIEW] Criminal Justice Ethics 10 (4):27-40.
  32. A. Balevski (1981). Some Thoughts on Science. Filosoficky Casopis 29 (3):301-307.
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  33. Derek Ball (forthcoming). Indexicality, Transparency, and Mental Files. Inquiry:1-15.
    Francois Recanati’s Mental Files presents a picture of the mind on which mental representations are indexical and transparent. I dispute this picture: there is no clear case for regarding mental representations as indexical, and there are counterexamples to transparency.
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  34. J. A. Barnden (1996). Philip P. Hanson (Ed.), Information, Language, and Cognition. Minds and Machines 6:95-100.
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  35. Robert R. Barr (1963). A Relational Analysis of Intentionality. Modern Schoolman 40 (3):225-244.
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  36. Andrew Barss (2001). Syntactic Reconstruction Effects. In Mark Baltin & Chris Collins (eds.), The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory. Blackwell. 670--696.
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  37. Robert A. Barton (2009). Evolution of the Social Brain as a Distributed Neural System. In Robin Dunbar & Louise Barrett (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. Oup Oxford.
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  38. W. B. Barton (1963). Intentionality. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):14-19.
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  39. Jon Barwise (1988). On the Circumstantial Relation Between Meaning and Content. In Umberto Eco (ed.), Meaning and Mental Representations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 496--23.
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  40. Wolfgang Barz, Kommentierte Bibliographie zum Thema Intentionalität.
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  41. Anne Baudart (2009). Présentation. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 1 (1):3-4.
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  42. Jc Beall (2006). Review of G. Priest, Towards Non-Being: The Logic and Metaphysics of Intentionality. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (9).
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  43. Michael Beaney (2006). Review of Tyler Burge, Truth, Thought, Reason: Essays on Frege. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (7).
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  44. T. Bearth (2001). Antoine Culioli: Cognition and Representation in Linguistic Theory. Pragmatics and Cognition 9 (1):135-146.
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  45. T. Bearth (2001). Review of “Cognition and Representation in Linguistic Theory” by Antoine Culioli. [REVIEW] Pragmatics and Cognition 9 (1):135-147.
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  46. Warren Beatrice (1999). Historical Semantics and Cognition.
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  47. William Bechtel, Representing Time of Day in Circadian Clocks.
    Positing representations and operations on them as a way of explaining behavior was one of the major innovations of the cognitive revolution. Neuroscience and biology more generally also employ representations in explaining how organisms function and coordinate their behavior with the world around them. In discussions of the nature of representation, theorists commonly differentiate between the vehicles of representation and their content—what they denote. Many contentious debates in cognitive science, such as those pitting neural network models against symbol processing accounts, (...)
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  48. William P. Bechtel (1993). Decomposing Intentionality: Perspectives on Intentionality Drawn From Language Research with Two Species of Chimpanzees. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 8 (1):1-32.
    In philosophy the term intentionality refers to the feature possessed by mental states of beingabout things others than themselves. A serious question has been how to explain the intentionality of mental states. This paper starts with linguistic representations, and explores how an organism might use linguistic symbols to represent other things. Two research projects of Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, one explicity teaching twopan troglodytes to use lexigrams intentionally, and the other exploring the ability of several members ofpan paniscus to learn lexigram use (...)
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  49. William Bechtel & George Graham (1996). A Companion to Cognitive Science. In Dennis M. Patterson (ed.), A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory. Blackwell Publishers.
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  50. Endre Begby (2011). Review of Tyler Burge, Origins of Objectivity. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011 (2).
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