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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. Frederick J. Adelmann (1964). Intentionality in Brentano. The Modern Schoolman 41 (4):375-383.
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  2. 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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  3. W. B. Barton (1963). Intentionality. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):14-19.
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  4. 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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  5. Rudolf Bernet (1994). An Intentionality Without Subject or Object? Man and World 27 (3):231-255.
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  6. Stefano Borgo, Noemi Spagnoletti, Laure Vieu & Elisabetta Visalberghi (2013). Artifact and Artifact Categorization: Comparing Humans and Capuchin Monkeys. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):375-389.
    We aim to show that far-related primates like humans and the capuchin monkeys show interesting correspondences in terms of artifact characterization and categorization. We investigate this issue by using a philosophically-inspired definition of physical artifact which, developed for human artifacts, turns out to be applicable for cross-species comparison. In this approach an artifact is created when an entity is intentionally selected and some capacities attributed to it (often characterizing a purpose). Behavioral studies suggest that this notion of artifact is not (...)
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  7. Johannes Brandl (2009). Intentionality, Information, and Experience. In A. Hieke & H. Leitgeb (eds.), Reduction: Between the Mind and the Brain. Ontos Verlag. 12--9.
    The investigation of the mind has been one of the major concerns of our philosophical tradition and is still a dominant subject in modern philosophy and science. Many philosophers in the scientific tradition want to solve the "puzzles of the mind," but believe the "puzzles" to be puzzles of the brain. So, whilst the former think of the mental as something of its own kind, the latter deny that philosophy of mind has to do with anything else but the brain. (...)
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  8. Hector-Neri Castañedan (ed.) (1971/1967). Intentionality, Minds, and Perception. Freeport, N.Y.,Books for Libraries Press.
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  9. Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel (2005). The Body as Mirror of the World. Free Association.
  10. Christiane Chauviré (2007). Dispositions or Capacities?: Wittgenstein's Social Philosophy of Mind. In Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (ed.), Perspicuous Presentations: Essays on Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan.
  11. Noam Chomsky (1994). Naturalism and Dualism in the Study of Language and Mind. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 2 (2):181 – 209.
    (1994). Naturalism and dualism in the study of language and mind. International Journal of Philosophical Studies: Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 181-209. doi: 10.1080/09672559408570790.
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  12. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2013). Brentano and Aristotle on the Ontology of Intentionality. In Fisette Denis & Fréchette Guillaume (eds.), Themes from Brentano. Rodopi.
    It is often claimed that Brentano’s rediscovery of intentionality has been strongly influenced by Aristotle. Brentano himself stressed repeatedly his affinity to Aristotle and this self-interpretation was by no means restricted to the theory of intentionality. In fact, Brentano seemed to believe that almost all of what he had discovered during his most influential years (1874–1895) has its more or less remote roots in the philosophy of Aristotle. Yet if we carefully compare the picture of intentionality that is to be (...)
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  13. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2012). Roman Ingarden. In Antonio Cimino & Vincenzo Costa (eds.), Storia della fenomenologia. Carocci Editore.
    Roman Ingarden (1893-1970) apparteneva a quegli allievi di Husserl che si designano come “fenomenologia di Gottinga”. Si tratta della prima generazione di fenomenologi, nella quale rientravano, fra gli altri, anche Adolf Reinach, Hedwig Conrad-Martius ed Edith Stein. I ricercatori di questo gruppo erano influenzati soprattutto dalle Ricerche logiche di Husserl e reagirono un po’ stupiti alla sua successiva svolta idealistica. Per quanto riguarda lo stesso Ingarden, egli incontrò Husserl solo dopo la pubblicazione delle Idee, tuttavia filosoficamente appartiene senza dubbio al (...)
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  14. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2009). Catégories formelles, nombres et conceptualisme. La première philosophie de l’arithmétique de Husserl. Philosophiques 36 (2):427-445.
    Résumé -/- Dans son premier livre (Philosophie de l’arithmétique 1891), Husserl élabore une très intéressante philosophie des mathématiques. Les concepts mathématiques sont interprétés comme des concepts de « deuxième ordre » auxquels on accède par une réflexion sur nos opérations mentales de numération. Il s’ensuit que la vérité de la proposition : « il y a trois pommes sur la table » ne consiste pas dans une relation mythique quelconque avec la réalité extérieure au psychique (où le nombre trois doit (...)
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  15. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2009). Genshogaku-teki na Imi no Riron: Husserl kara Ingarden made. Gendai Shiso (The Review of Contemporary Thought) 37 (16):66-88.
    This is a japanese translation of Arkadiusz Chrudzimski, "Von Brentano zu Ingarden. Die phänomenologische Bedeutungslehre", Husserl Studies 18 (2002), 3, pp. 185-208.
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  16. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2009). Sachverhalte, Objekte und Supervenienz. Brentano, Marty und Meinong. Brentano Studien 12:99-119.
    Die offizielle Urteilstheorie Brentanos war eine nicht-propositionale Theorie. Die These, dass man, um die in einem Urteilsakt involvierten intentionalen Beziehungen zu erklären, keine propositionalen Entitäten einführen muss, war in der Tat eine seiner interessantesten Ideen. Brentano hat aber im Laufe seiner Lehrtätigkeit sehr viele neue Wege ausprobiert und so finden wir in seinen Vorlesungen aus den späten achtziger Jahren auch eine Urteilstheorie, die jedem Urteilsakt eine propositionale Entität zuordnet. Gerade diese Lehre war für Brentanos Studenten besonders inspirierend. Vor allem Anton (...)
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  17. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2007). Gegenstandstheorie und Theorie der Intentionalität bei Alexius Meinong. Springer.
    The thought of Alexius Meinong (1853–1920) has a distinguished position within the conceptual space of ontology. He was the first philosopher who tried systematically to develop a quasi-ontological discipline which was intended to be much more general than the metaphysics in the traditional sense. Metaphysics investigates being qua being; and this constitutes only a small part of the domain of the theory of objects (Gegenstandstheorie) as Meinong conceived of it. For – so reads one of Meinong’s most frequently cited theses (...)
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  18. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2005). Brentano Husserl Und Ingarden Über Die Intentionalen Gegenstände. In , Existence, Culture, and Persons: The Ontology of Roman Ingarden. Ontos.
    In der Geschichte der Philosophie finden wir viele Intentionalitätstheorien, die spezielle Gegenstände zur Erklärung des Intentionalitätsphänomens einführen. Solche Theorien wurden in erster Linie von Philosophen eingeführt, die durch Franz Brentano beeinflusst waren. Gegenstände, um die es hier geht, werden üblicherweise intentionale Gegenstände genannt. Eine Theorie der intentionalen Gegenstände, die vom ontologischen Standpunkt aus betrachtet besonders detailliert ausgearbeitet ist, hat Roman Ingarden formuliert. Auch Ingardens Theorie ist daher Gegenstand einer oft geäußerten Kritik. Man behauptet, dass alles, was intentionale Gegenstände leisten, auch (...)
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  19. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2005). Intentionalität, Zeitbewusstsein Und Intersubjektivität. Studien Zur Phänomenologie von Brentano Bis Ingarden. Ontos.
    Studien zur Phänomenologie von Brentano bis Ingarden Arkadiusz Chrudzimski. Husserl, Edmund 1908. Vorlesungen über Bedeutungslehre. Sommersemester I 908 (Husserliana XXVI, hrsg. von U. Panzer), Dordrecht/Boston/Lancaster 1987 ...
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  20. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2004). Die Ontologie Franz Brentanos. Kluwer.
    Das Buch bietet die erste systematische esamtdarstellung der Ontologie Brentanos. Es zeigt, daß es in Brentanos ontologischem Denken drei Perioden gibt: die frühe "konzeptualistische" (1862-1874), die mittlere "deskriptiv-psychologische" (1874-1904) und die späte "reistische" (1904-1917). Diese drei Perioden werden in ihrer Kontinuität und komplizierten Dialektik unter Rückgriff auf unveröffentlichte Manuskripte Brentanos dargestellt. Dabei wird von dem logischen Handwerkszeug der zeitgenössischen analytischen Ontologie Gebrauch gemacht. Das Buch wendet sich nicht nur an Brentano-Forscher, sondern an alle an ontologischen Fragen Interessierten. Die Analysen zur (...)
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  21. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2004). Roman Ingarden. Ontology From a Phenomenological Point of View. Reports on Philosophy 22:121-142.
    Ontology is doubtless the most important part of Roman Ingarden’s (1893-1970) philosophy. Contrary to Husserl, Ingarden always believed that any serious philosophical investigation must involve an ontological basis and he tried to formulate a solid ontological framework for his philosophy. There are several reasons why this ontology deserves our attention. For those who are interested in Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, Ingarden’s ontology could be treated as an ingenious attempt to analyse the conceptual structure and hidden ontological assumptions of Husserl’s transcendental idealism. (...)
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  22. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2003). Contentless Syntax, Ineffable Semantics and Transcendental Ontology. Reflections on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Kriterion 17:1-6.
    Wittgenstein’s Tractatus contains some very striking theses. We read, e.g., that „in a sense” we could not be wrong in logic, and that the whole subject matter of the theory of modalities could be reconstructed on the ground of the insights in the mechanism of the linguistic reference. Yet in the light of the last sentences of Tractatus the whole semantics turns out to be principaly ineffable. In our paper we will try to clarify these matters. We show how these (...)
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  23. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2003). Wozu Brauchte Carl Stumpf Sachverhalte? Brentano Studien 10:67-82.
  24. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2002). Brentano und Meinong. Zur Ontologie der Denkobjekte. In Winfried Löffler (ed.), Substanz und Identität. Beiträge zur Ontologie. Mentis.
    1. Die Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874) Brentanos gilt als das Werk der Theorie der Intentionalität. Brentano macht dort die „intentionale Inexistenz” des Denkobjekts zum Definitionsmerkmal des Psychischen und zugleich zum zentralen Begriff eines einflußreichen Forschungsprogramms. Die Idee der intentionalen Beziehung, die in der Psychologie diese zentrale Stellung genießt, hat jedoch ganz bestimmte Aristotelisch-scholastische Wurzeln und wurde bereits in Brentanos Dissertation (1862) sowie in seiner Habilita¬tions¬schrift (1867) als ein unproblematisches Werzeug der Analyse verwendet. 2. Die Rede von der „objektiven Existenz (...)
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  25. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2001). Intentionalitätstheorie Beim Frühen Brentano. Kluwer.
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  26. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (1999). Die Stellung der Theorie der Intersubjektivität im System der Husserlschen transzendentalen Phänomenologie. Conceptus 32 (80):99-138.
    Die Theorie der Intersubjektivität bildet einen der zentralen Punkte des Husserlschen Systems. Im Rahmen der konsequenten Epistemisierung des Wahrheitsbegriffs, die Husserl von Brentano übernommen hat, wird die objektive Realität mittels des Begriffs der intersubjektiven epistemischen Begründung definiert. Die Konstitution der intersubjektiven Gemeinschaft bildet demgemäß die unentbehrliche Vorbedingung für die Konstitution der intersubjektiven Welt. Wir zeigen, daß die Husserlsche Theorie nicht einwandfrei funktioniert. Es ist vor allem das Zusammenspiel des Begriffsempirismus mit dem epistemologischen Fundamentalismus, das das Scheitern seiner Version der Analogieschluß-Theorie (...)
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  27. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (1999). Die Theorie der Intentionalität bei Franz Brentano. Grazer Philosophische Studien 57:45-66.
    Bei Brentano finden sich zwei deutlich voneinander abweichende Lehren von der Intentionalität. Beide Theorien der Intentionalität werden im Detail analysiert und mit Freges Theorie von Sinn und Bedeutung verglichen. Die frühe Lehre, wie sie Brentano in seiner Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt einführt, ist eine Objekt-Theorie, bei der gewisse irreale Entitäten als Objekte der Intention fungieren, mit den bekannten kontraintuitiven Aspekten und logischen Anomalien als Folge, die von Brentano durch eine Umformulierung des Begriffs des Objektes der Intention gelöst werden. Diese Theorie (...)
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  28. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski & Barry Smith (2004). Brentano’s Ontology: From Conceptualism to Reism. In Dale Jacquette (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Brentano. Cambridge University Press. 197--220.
    It is often claimed that the beginnings of Brentano’s ontology were Aristotelian in nature; but this claim is only partially true. Certainly the young Brentano adopted many elements of Aristotle’s metaphysics, and he was deeply influenced by the Aristotelian way of doing philosophy. But he always interpreted Aristotle’s ideas in his own fashion. He accepted them selectively, and he used them in the service of ends that would not have been welcomed by Aristotle himself. The present paper is an exposition (...)
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  29. Niall Connolly (2014). BOOK REVIEW The Objects of Thought. Tim Crane. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):517-520.
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  30. James W. Cornman (1970). Theoretical Terms, Berkeleian Notions, and Minds. In Colin Murray Turbayne (ed.), A Treatise on the Principles of Human Knowledge / George Berkeley, with Critical Essays. Bobbs-Merrill.
  31. Tim Crane (2014). Aspects of Psychologism. Harvard University Press.
    Dummett is claiming, then, that Frege's attack on psychologism can be extended to views outside logic. Psycholo- gism in Dummett's discussion is a view about understanding the meanings of words ('grasp of sense'). Psychologism holds that  ...
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  32. Tim Crane (2007). Intentionalität als Merkmal des Geistigen: Sechs Essays zur Philosophie des Geistes. Fischer Verlag.
    A German translation of six essays (‘The Non-Conceptual Content of Experience’, ‘The Mental Causation Debate’, ‘Mental Substances’, ‘Intentionality as the Mark of the Mental’, ‘Subjective Knowledge’, ‘The Intentional Structure of Consciousness’) with a new introduction, ‘The Mental and the Physical’.
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  33. Michael A. E. Dummett (1975). What is a Theory of Meaning? In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press.
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  34. W. Tecumseh Fitch (2008). Nano-Intentionality: A Defense of Intrinsic Intentionality. Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):157-177.
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  35. Peter Geach (1957). Mental Acts. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    ACT, CONTENT, AND OBJECT THE TITLE I have chosen for this work is a mere label for a set of problems; the controversial views that have historically been ...
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  36. Roger Gibson & Robert B. Barrett (eds.) (1990). Perspectives on Quine. Blackwell.
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  37. Gilbert Harman (1998). Intentionality. In William Bechtel & George Graham (eds.), A Companion to Cognitive Science. Blackwell.
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  38. Gilbert Harman (1973). Thought. Princeton University Press.
  39. Paul Katsafanas (2011). Activity and Passivity in Reflective Agency. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 6. Oxford. 219.
    Lately, a number of philosophers have argued that agents can be more and less active in the production of their own actions. Some actions—principally reflective, deliberative ones—are said to involve agential activity; other actions—principally unreflective, non-deliberative ones—are said to be brought about in a more passive fashion. In this essay, I critique these claims. I show that philosophers employing the notion of agential activity have relied on one or more of the following claims, which have not been clearly distinguished in (...)
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  40. Geert Keil (2012). Beyond Assimilationism and Differentialism: Comment on Glock. In Elif Özmen & Julian Nida-Rümelin (eds.), Welt der Gründe. Meiner.
    In a number of articles, Hans-Johann Glock has argued against the »lingualist« view that higher mental capacities are a prerogative of language-users. He has defended the »assimilationist« claim that the mental capacities of humans and of non-human animals differ only in degree. In the paper under discussion, Glock argues that animals are capable of acting for reasons, provided that reasons are construed along the lines of the new »objectivist« theory of practical reasons.
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  41. Martin Kurthen (1994). Ahistorical Intentional Content. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 25 (2):241 - 259.
    One of the main problems of current theory of intentionality concerns the possibility of ahistorical intentional content, that is, content in the absence of any developmental history of the respective item. Biosemanticists like Millikan (1984) argue that content is essentially historical, while computationalists like Cummins (1989) hold that a system's current ahistorical state alone determines content. In the present paper, this problem is discussed in terms of some popular 'cosmic accident' thought experiments, and the conceptual framework of these experiments is (...)
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  42. David Lauer, Christophe Laudou, Robin Celikates & Georg W. Bertram (eds.) (2011). Expérience Et Réflexivité: Perspectives au-Delà de L’Empirisme Et de L’Idéalisme. L'Harmattan.
    This book collects essays from the 2006 and 2007 International Philosophy Colloquia Evian, centred around a central problem in the philosophy of mind: the relationship between the human faculty of sensory experience and the faculty of conceptual reflection, that is self-consciousness. Containing articles by philosophers of eight nationalities, in three languages (English, French, German), and of "analytical" as well as "continental" provenance, it beautifully represents the spirit of the colloquia. Authors include Joshua Andresen (AU Beirut), Valérie Aucouturier (Kent U / (...)
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  43. Laureano Luna (2013). Satisfiable and Unsatisfied Paradoxes. How Closely Related? The Reasoner 7 (5):56-7.
  44. John Michael & Miles Macleod (2013). Applying the Causal Theory of Reference to Intentional Concepts. Philosophy of Science 80 (2):212-230.
  45. N. Mohanty, J. & William R. McKenna (eds.) (1989). Husserl's Phenomenology. University Press of America.
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  46. Friederike Moltmann (forthcoming). Quantification with Intentional and with Intensional Verbs. In Alessandro Torza (ed.), Quantifiers, Quantifiers, Quantifiers. Springer.
    The question whether natural language permits quantification over intentional objects as the ‘nonexistent’ objects of thought is the topic of a major philosophical controversy, as is the status of intentional objects as such. This paper will argue that natural language does reflect a particular notion of intentional object and in particular that certain types of natural language constructions (generally disregarded in the philosophical literature) cannot be analysed without positing intentional objects. At the same time, those intentional objects do not come (...)
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  47. G. E. Moore (1899). The Nature of Judgment. Mind 8 (30):176-193.
  48. Ana Sofia Morais, Henrik Olsson & Lael J. Schooler (2013). Mapping the Structure of Semantic Memory. Cognitive Science 37 (1):125-145.
    Aggregating snippets from the semantic memories of many individuals may not yield a good map of an individual’s semantic memory. The authors analyze the structure of semantic networks that they sampled from individuals through a new snowball sampling paradigm during approximately 6 weeks of 1-hr daily sessions. The semantic networks of individuals have a small-world structure with short distances between words and high clustering. The distribution of links follows a power law truncated by an exponential cutoff, meaning that most words (...)
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  49. Thomas Natsoulas (1988). The Intentionality of Retrowareness. Journal of Mind and Behavior 9:515-547.
    An instance of retrowareness is a veridical nonperceptual occurrent awareness of something about a particular past event or state of affairs. Accordingly, this occurrence is intentional, or exemplifies the property of intentionality, in the sense that it is as though it were about something in contrast to other equally intentional mental occurrences that only seem to be about something. That a retrowareness has intentionality must be explained in terms of its own content and structure, rather than in terms of its (...)
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  50. Walter Ott (2012). What is Locke's Theory of Representation? British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (6):1077-1095.
    On a currently popular reading of Locke, an idea represents its cause, or what God intended to be its cause. Against Martha Bolton and my former self (among others), I argue that Locke cannot hold such a view, since it sins against his epistemology and theory of abstraction. I argue that Locke is committed to a resemblance theory of representation, with the result that ideas of secondary qualities are not representations.
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