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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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  1. N. G. A. & C. L. (2004). Présentation. Diogène 208 (4):2.
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  2. Andrew Lee Aavatsmark (1999). Individuation and Explanation in Cognitive Psychology. Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
    Individualism is the view that psychological kinds must be defined only in terms of the internal properties of individual subjects. The argument for this view is that anything external to the individual cannot have any causal explanatory relevance to that individual's behavior. This assumes that to be scientific, psychology must individuate mental states by causally relevant properties. But I argue first, that this rules out individuating them by any sort of representational content. Second, if taken seriously, it entails that only (...)
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  3. B. Abbott (1996). Gilles Fauconnier, Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in Natural Language. Minds and Machines 6:239-242.
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  4. Katerina Abramova & Mario Villalobos (2015). The Apparent Intentionality of Living Beings and the Game of Content. Philosophia 43 (3):651-668.
    Hutto and Satne, Philosophia propose to redefine the problem of naturalizing semantic content as searching for the origin of content instead of attempting to reduce it to some natural phenomenon. The search is to proceed within the framework of Relaxed Naturalism and under the banner of teleosemiotics which places Ur-intentionality at the source of content. We support the proposed redefinition of the problem but object to the proposed solution. In particular, we call for adherence to Strict Naturalism and replace teleosemiotics (...)
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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. Gilbert Achcar (2003). Présentation. Actuel Marx 1 (1):7-10.
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  8. Diana Ackerman (1980). Natural Kinds, Concepts, and Propositional Attitudes. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):469-486.
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  9. Diana Ackerman (1980). Thinking About an Object: Comments on Pollock. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):501-508.
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  10. Robert Ackermann (1972). Opacity In Belief Structures. Journal of Philosophy 69 (February):55-67.
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  11. Laird Addis (2009). 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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  12. Laird Addis (1983). Natural Signs. Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):543 - 568.
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  13. Frederick J. Adelmann (1964). Intentionality in Brentano. Modern Schoolman 41 (4):375-383.
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  14. Mortimer J. Adler (1967). Intentionality and Immateriality. New Scholasticism 41 (3):312-344.
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  15. Hicham-Stéphane Afeissa (2006). Présentation. Philosophie 90 (2):3.
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  16. Ken Aizawa & Fred Adams (2005). Defending Non-Derived Content. Philosophical Psychology 18 (6):661-669.
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  17. Kathleen Akins (2002). A Question of Content. In Andrew Brook & Don Ross (eds.), Daniel Dennett. Cambridge University Press 206.
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  18. Kathleen Alison Akins (1989). On Piranhas, Narcissism and Mental Representation: An Essay on Intentionality and Naturalism. Dissertation, University of Michigan
    This dissertation is motivated by the following question: Is the portrayal of mind/brain processes as representations--as entities that in some sense reflect, correspond with, or symbolize the world--particularily apt? Through detailed examples from the neuroscientific literature, with an emphasis on sensory processing, I argue that this way of viewing brain functioning is typically misleading. It depicts neural functioning as a bipartite process: first the production of a set of neural "calibrational" states with properties in the world, and then their interpretation (...)
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  19. V. C. Aldrich (1934). Meaning Without Mind. Philosophical Review 43 (6):607-619.
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  20. Virgil C. Aldrich (1981). Can Representations Be Identical with Anything? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 41 (3):401-404.
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  21. S. Alexander (1908). Mental Activity in Willing and in Ideas. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 9:1 - 40.
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  22. Colin Frederick Allen (1989). Attributing Intentional States to Animals: Philosophical Issues Arising in Cognitive Ethology. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    The naturalistic theory of mind that arises from ethology is faced with the question of continuity between human mind and animal mind. In particular, the applicability of intentional, mentalistic terms to animals arises. I argue that cognitive ethologists can and should operate with a realistic conception of intentional states in animals. ;I start by considering arguments claiming to show that the attribution of intentional states presents special difficulties in the case of animals, because the contents of such states cannot be (...)
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  23. Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff (1994). Intentionality, Social Play, and Definition. Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):63-74.
    Social play is naturally characterized in intentional terms. An evolutionary account of social play could help scientists to understand the evolution of cognition and intentionality. Alexander Rosenberg (1990) has argued that if play is characterized intentionally or functionally, it is not a behavioral phenotype suitable for evolutionary explanation. If he is right, his arguments would threaten many projects in cognitive ethology. We argue that Rosenberg's arguments are unsound and that intentionally and functionally characterized phenotypes are a proper domain for ethological (...)
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  24. Éric Alliez (2006). Présentation. Multitudes 2 (2):13-17.
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  25. Robert Almeder (1995). Dretske's Dreadful Question. Philosophia 24 (3-4):449-457.
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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. Erich Ammereller (1995). Wittgenstein on Intentionality.
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  29. Se-Gweon An (1990). Intentionality, Time, and Self-Identity: Husserl's Theory of Time and the Problem of Personal Identity. Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
    In this dissertation I raise three questions: What is Husserl's theory of time?; Can we develop a particular thesis of self-identity and, if so, what would it look like?; How does the thesis work in relation to the problems that are to be solved? ;In chapter II, I give an exposition of Husserl's view on time with the purpose of establishing a framework that will play a decisive role in the formation of a thesis of self-identity. Husserl defines time as (...)
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  30. Jaynie Anderson (2010). Présentation. Diogène 231 (3):3.
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  31. G. E. M. Anscombe, Cora Diamond & Jenny Teichman (eds.) (1979). Intention and Intentionality: Essays in Honour of G. E. M. Anscombe. Cornell University Press.
  32. Mauro Antonelli (2012). Franz Brentano’s Intentionality Thesis. In A. Salice (ed.), Intentionality: Historical and Systematic Perspectives. Philosophia Verlag
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  33. L. Antony (1990). Cummins, R., "Meaning and Menta,L Representation". [REVIEW] Mind 99:637.
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  34. Michael Verne Antony (1990). Consciousness, Content, and Cognitive Architecture. Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    This thesis consists of three essays in the philosophy of mind. Essay 1 contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing whatever on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments which appear, on the surface, to (...)
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  35. Richard E. Aquila (1987). Peacocke's Thoughts. Inquiry 30 (1 & 2):195 – 205.
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  36. Richard E. Aquila (1985). "Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind" by John R. Searle. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46 (1):159.
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  37. Richard E. Aquila (1971). Intentionality and Possible Facts. Noûs 5 (4):411-417.
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  38. Dan Arbib (2009). Présentation. Les Etudes Philosophiques 91 (4):451.
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  39. 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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  40. In Aristophanes & Ralph M. Rosen (2008). Badness and Intentionality. In I. Sluiter & Ralph Mark Rosen (eds.), Kakos: Badness and Anti-Value in Classical Antiquity. Brill 307--143.
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  41. 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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  42. David M. Armstrong (2004). Mental Concepts: Casual Analysis. In R. L. Gregory (ed.), The Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press 572--574.
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  43. Stewart Arneil (1989). Intentionality and the Foundational Triad of Computationalism.
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  44. Dan Arnold (2012). Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind. Cup.
    Premodern Buddhists are sometimes characterized as veritable "mind scientists" whose insights anticipate modern research on the brain and mind. Aiming to complicate this story, Dan Arnold confronts a significant obstacle to popular attempts at harmonizing classical Buddhist and modern scientific thought: since most Indian Buddhists held that the mental continuum is uninterrupted by death, they would have no truck with the idea that everything about the mental can be explained in terms of brain events. Nevertheless, a predominant stream of Indian (...)
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  45. Mark Aronszajn (1991). What Are Thoughts? Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    In this dissertation, I investigate a conception of thoughts figuring in ordinary discourse, and argue that this conception is an improvement over a certain standard conception employed in current philosophical and linguistic endeavors. ;In Chapter 2, I discuss the leading principles of the standard conception, a conception according to which thoughts in general are to be identified with propositions. I also briefly preview some of the main features that distinguish the conception developed in the course of this study from the (...)
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  46. 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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  47. Olav Asheim (1992). Reference and Intentionality. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  48. Janet Wilde Astington (2001). The Paradox of Intention: Assessing Children's Metarepresentational Understanding. In Bertram Malle, L. J. Moses & Dare Baldwin (eds.), Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition. MIT Press
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  49. 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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  50. Robin Attfield & Michael Durrant (1973). The Irreducibility of `Meaning'. Noûs 7 (3):282-298.
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