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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. 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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  2. Frederick J. Adelmann (1964). Intentionality in Brentano. Modern Schoolman 41 (4):375-383.
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  3. 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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  4. W. B. Barton (1963). Intentionality. Southern Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):14-19.
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  5. Wolfgang Barz, Kommentierte Bibliographie zum Thema Intentionalität.
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  6. T. Bearth (2001). Antoine Culioli: Cognition and Representation in Linguistic Theory. Pragmatics and Cognition 9 (1):135-146.
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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. Rudolf Bernet (1994). An Intentionality Without Subject or Object? Man and World 27 (3):231-255.
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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. M. J. Cain (2013). Learning, Concept Acquisition and Psychological Essentialism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):577-598.
    In this article I will evaluate the popular view that we acquire most of our concepts by means of learning. I will do this through an examination of Jerry Fodor’s dissenting views and those of some of his most persistent and significant critics. Although I will be critical of Fodor’s central claim that it is impossible to learn a concept, I will ultimately conclude that we should be more sceptical than is normal about the power of learning when it comes (...)
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  13. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Event Concepts. In Thomas F. Shipley & Jeff Zacks (eds.), Understanding Events: From Perception to Action. Oxford University Press. 31�54.
    Events are center stage in several fields of psychological research. There is a long tradition in the study of event perception, event recognition, event memory, event conceptualization and segmentation. There are studies devoted to the description of events in language and to their representation in the brain. There are also metapsychological studies aimed at assessing the nature of mental events or the grounding of intentional action. Outside psychology, the notion of an event plays a prominent role in various areas of (...)
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  14. Hector-Neri Castañedan (ed.) (1971/1967). Intentionality, Minds, and Perception. Freeport, N.Y.,Books for Libraries Press.
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  15. Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel (2005). The Body as Mirror of the World. Free Association.
  16. 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.
  17. Gisèle Chevalier & Richard Hudson (2001). The Use of Intentional Language in Scientific Articles in Finance. Journal of Economic Methodology 8 (2):203-228.
    Rosenberg claims that economics must use the 'intentional idiom' for its explanatory strategies. We examine whether scientific articles in financial economics do in fact ascribe propositional attitudes to economic agents. We look at articles in the Journal of Finance , volume 54 (1999), where we find a total of 250 502 words in 29 articles. The total number of ascriptions of the intentional states of belief, desire, expectation or preference to economic agents is 137, with 26 of 29 articles making (...)
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  18. 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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  19. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2014). Marty on Truth-Making. In Laurent Cesalli & Janette Friedrich (eds.), Anton Marty, Karl Bühler. Between Mind and Language. Schwabe. 201-234.
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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2003). Wozu Brauchte Carl Stumpf Sachverhalte? Brentano Studien 10:67-82.
  32. 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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  33. Arkadiusz Chrudzimski (2001). Intentionalitätstheorie Beim Frühen Brentano. Kluwer.
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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. Niall Connolly (2014). BOOK REVIEW The Objects of Thought. Tim Crane. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):517-520.
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  38. 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.
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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. Richard E. Creel (forthcoming). Radical Behaviorism, Feelings, and Beliefs. Behaviorism.
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  42. Nikolaus Dalbauer & Andreas Hergovich (2013). Is What is Worse More Likely?—The Probabilistic Explanation of the Epistemic Side-Effect Effect. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):639-657.
    One aim of this article is to explore the connection between the Knobe effect and the epistemic side-effect effect (ESEE). Additionally, we report evidence about a further generalization regarding probability judgments. We demonstrate that all effects can be found within German material, using ‘absichtlich’ [intentionally], ‘wissen’ [know] and ‘wahrscheinlich’ [likely]. As the explanations discussed with regard to the Knobe effect do not suffice to explicate the ESEE, we survey whether the characteristic asymmetry in knowledge judgments is caused by a differing (...)
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  43. 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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  44. M. D. Eddy (2006). The Medium of Signs: Nominalism, Language and the Philosophy of Mind in the Early Thought of Dugald Stewart. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (3):373-393.
    In 1792 Dugald Stewart published Elements of the philosophy of the human mind. In its section on abstraction he declared himself to be a nominalist. Although a few scholars have made brief reference to this position, no sustained attention has been given to the central role that it played within Stewart’s early philosophy of mind. It is therefore the purpose of this essay to unpack Stewart’s nominalism and the intellectual context that fostered it. In the first three sections I aver (...)
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  45. Frances Egan (1990). Review: Vindicating Intentional Realism. [REVIEW] Behavior and Philosophy 18 (1):59 - 61.
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  46. Kathleen Emmett (1988). Meaning and Mental States. Behaviorism 16:99-107.
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  47. Arthur Falk (1995). A Connectionist Solution to Problems Posed by Plato and Aristotle. Behavior and Philosophy 23 (3-1):1 - 12.
    Intentionality occurs in connectionist nets among those traits of the nets that scientists call flaws. This label has obscured for philosophers the fact that the naturalistic basis of intentionality has been discovered. I show this while staying on our profession's common ground of discourse about ancient philosophy. In the "Theaetetus", Plato invokes a homunculus to explain perceptual misrecognition, and in "On Memory and Recollection", Aristotle invokes a mental operation of disregarding in order to overcome the extraneous determinateness of mental images. (...)
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  48. W. Tecumseh Fitch (2008). Nano-Intentionality: A Defense of Intrinsic Intentionality. Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):157-177.
    I suggest that most discussions of intentional systems have overlooked an important aspect of living organisms: the intrinsic goal-directedness inherent in the behaviour of living eukaryotic cells. This goal directedness is nicely displayed by a normal cell’s ability to rearrange its own local material structure in response to damage, nutrient distribution or other aspects of its individual experience. While at a vastly simpler level than intentionality at the human cognitive level, I propose that this basic capacity of living things provides (...)
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  49. Gordon R. Foxall (2009). Ascribing Intentionality. Behavior and Philosophy 37:217 - 222.
    Much of the commentary on my paper "Intentional behaviorism" (Foxall, 2007) fails to make contact with my central arguments about the use of intentional language in the explanation of behavior. Marr's (2008) remarks on my responses to that commentary (Foxall, 2008) also fail to address my original assertions. Both commentary and remarks tilt at windmills that were not in the landscape I described or hinted at in the solutions I proposed. I attempt here to map out my argument more clearly.
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  50. Gordon R. Foxall (2007). Intentional Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy 35:1 - 55.
    Two of the leading contenders to explain behavior are radical behaviorism and intentionality: an account that seeks to confine itself to descriptions of response–environment correlations and one that employs the language of beliefs and desires to explicate its subject matter. While each claims an exclusive right to undertake this task, this paper argues that neither can be eliminated from a complete explanatory account of human behavior. The behavior analysis derived from radical behaviorism is generally sufficient for the prediction and control (...)
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