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Summary

Intentionality is an important part of the classic mind-body problem, and naturalists need to give an account of it.  This should include an explanation for how mental states can have contents, both propositional and non-propositional.  Many types of reductive explanations have been proposed, but none widely accepted.  The two most popular are 1) accounts somehow based on causal connections or information-carrying regularities between mental representations and their referents or truth conditions, and 2) functionalist type "conceptual role" or "causal role" accounts based on causal connections among mental states and/or mental representations, possibly extending into the world as well.  Two less popular approaches are 3) success semantics (according to which truth conditions are determined by success in some sense) and 4) resemblance theories (whereby representations denote by means of resemblance of some sort, e.g. isomorphism).  Teleology, usually in the form of evolutionary function, may be brought in to solve problems that arise for any of the above, particularly in order to solve "disjunction problems" like allowing for the possibility of error and misrepresentation.  The "phenomenal intentionality" strategy is a new kid on the block, and there are non-reductive approaches as well, including non-reductive versions of the foregoing, as well as interpretivism (content is determined by constrained possibilities for interpretation) and deflationism (claims about mental state content are largely trivial and uninformative).

Key works

Many of these ideas can be traced back to Stampe 1977.  The most influential causal/informational approaches are Dretske 1981 (with teleology added in his 1986) and Fodor's asymmetric dependance variant Fodor 1987.  Classic sources for conceptual or causal role semantics include Block 1986 and Harman 1987Millikan 1984 presents the most influential teleological theory; her account blends teleology, resemblance (isomorphism), and success semantics.  For interpretivism, see Dennett 1971 and Davidson 1973, and for phenomenal intentionality see Horgan & Tienson 2002.

Introductions

The Stich & Warfield 1994 introductory collection has not yet been superseded, and Cummins 1989 is an older but still excellent book-length introduction to the subject. Two recent general reviews are Rupert 2008 and Ryder 2009.  For introductions to specific approaches, see the following: Information-based: Cohen 2002; Causal (not including information-based): Adams & Aizawa 2010; Conceptual/causal role semantics: Block 1998; Teleological: Neander 2004;  Interpretivism: Byrne 1998.

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  1. Frederick R. Adams (2002). Mental Representation. In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell
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  2. Frederick R. Adams (1991). Causal Contents. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell
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  3. Frederick R. Adams & Kenneth Aizawa (2005). Defending Non-Derived Content. Philosophical Psychology 18 (6):661-669.
  4. Miroslava Andjelkovic (2004). Articulating Reasons. Philosophical Books 45 (2):140-148.
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  5. Richard E. Aquila (1991). Review: A Predicate Operator Theory of Mental Predicates. [REVIEW] Behavior and Philosophy 19 (1):101 - 108.
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  6. D. Bar-On (2005). Review: Radical Interpretation and Indeterminacy. [REVIEW] Mind 114 (454):429-435.
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  7. John Barresi (2007). Consciousness and Intentionality. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (1-2):77-93.
    My goal is to try to understand the intentionality of consciousness from a naturalistic perspective. My basic methodological assumption is that embodied agents, through their sensory-motor, affective, and cognitive activities directed at objects, engage in intentional relations with these objects. Furthermore, I assume that intentional relations can be viewed from a first- and a third-person perspective. What is called primary consciousness is the first-person perspective of the agent engaged in a current intentional relation. While primary consciousness posits an implicit.
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  8. Wolfgang Barz (2012). Die Tücken des Repräsentationsbegriffs. Erwägen Wissen Ethik 23:36-38.
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  9. Wolfgang Barz (2004). Das Problem der Intentionalität. Mentis.
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  10. David Best (1981). Intentionality and Art. Philosophy 56 (217):349 - 363.
    A work of art is something which is unlike anything else. It is art which, best of all, gives us the idea of what is particular.
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  11. Ned Block (1997). Semantics, Conceptual Role. In [Book Chapter] (Unpublished). Routledge 242--256.
    According to Conceptual Role Semantics ("CRS"), the meaning of a representation is the role of that representation in the cognitive life of the agent, e.g. in perception, thought and decision-making. It is an extension of the well known "use" theory of meaning, according to which the meaning of a word is its use in communication and more generally, in social interaction. CRS supplements external use by including the role of a symbol inside a computer or a brain. The uses appealed (...)
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  12. D. Bolton & J. Hill (1997). On the Causal Role of Meaning. In Michael J. Power & C. R. Brewin (eds.), The Transformation of Meaning in Psychological Therapies: Integrating Theory and Practice. John Wiley
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  13. Jan Bransen (2002). Normativity as the Key to Objectivity: An Exploration of Robert Brandom's Articulating Reasons. Inquiry 45 (3):373 – 391.
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  14. Deborah J. Brown (1993). Swampman of la Mancha. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):327-48.
  15. Donal E. Carlston & Eliot R. Smith (1996). Principles of Mental Representation. In E. E. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (eds.), Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles. Guilford 184--210.
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  16. Paolo Casalegno (1998). The Referential and the Logical Component in Fodor's Semantics. Dialectica 52 (4):339–363.
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  17. Devinder Singh Chahal (2001). Causes of Misinterpretation of Gurbani and Misrepresentation of Sikhism and the Solution. Philosophy 3 (1):13.
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  18. Brian Cutter & Michael Tye (2011). Tracking Representationalism and the Painfulness of Pain. Philosophical Issues 21 (1):90-109.
  19. Kim Davies (1982). Intentionality: Spontaneous Ascription and Deep Intuition. Analysis 42 (June):169-171.
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  20. Daniel C. Dennett, Do-It-Yourself Understanding.
    One of the virtues of Fred Dretske's recent work has been the salutary openness with which he has described the motivations he discovers controlling his thought, and this candor has brought a submerged confusion close to the surface. Since this confusion is widely shared by philosophers and others working on the problem of content ascription, an analysis of its influence on Dretske will at the same time illuminate the difficulties it is creating for other writers.
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  21. Daniel C. Dennett & John Haugeland (1987). Intentionality. In Richard L. Gregory (ed.), Southwestern Journal of Philosophy. Oxford University Press 139-143.
    Intentionality is aboutness. Some things are about other things: a belief can be about icebergs, but an iceberg is not about anything; an idea can be about the number 7, but the number 7 is not about anything; a book or a film can be about Paris, but Paris is not about anything. Philosophers have long been concerned with the analysis of the phenomenon of intentionality, which has seemed to many to be a fundamental feature of mental states and events.
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  22. Sharmila Dissanaike (2012). An Unintened Misrepresentation. Hastings Center Report 42 (3):7.
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  23. Richard Double (1987). Intentionality. Philosophical Studies 31:481-482.
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  24. Anthony Doyle (1985). Is Knowledge Information-Produced Belief? A Defense of Dretske Against Some Critics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (1):33-46.
  25. John Doyle (2001). On the Pure Intentionality of Pure Intentionality. Modern Schoolman 79 (1):57-78.
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  26. Fred Dretske (1993). " 1 A Misrepresentation. In Alvin Goldman (ed.), Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Cambridge: MIT Press 297.
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  27. John Drummond (2008). Moral Phenomenology and Moral Intentionality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):35-49.
    This paper distinguishes between two senses of the term “phenomenology”: a narrow sense (drawn from Nagel) and a broader sense (drawn from Husserl). It claims, with particular reference to the moral sphere, that the narrow meaning of moral phenomenology cannot stand alone, that is, that moral phenomenology in the narrow sense entails moral intentionality. The paper proceeds by examining different examples of the axiological and volitional experiences of both virtuous and dutiful agents, and it notes the correlation between the phenomenal (...)
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  28. Frances Egan (2013). Explaining Representation: A Reply to Matthen. Philosophical Studies (1):1-6.
    Mohan Matthen has failed to understand the position I develop and defend in “How to Think about Mental Content.” No doubt some of the fault lies with my exposition, though Matthen often misconstrues passages that are clear in context. He construes clarifications and elaborations of my argument to be “concessions.” Rather than dwell too much on specific misunderstandings of my explanatory project and its attendant claims, I will focus on the main points of disagreement.RepresentationalismMy project in the paper is to (...)
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  29. Frances Egan (2013). How to Think About Mental Content. Philosophical Studies (1):1-21.
    Introduction: representationalismMost theorists of cognition endorse some version of representationalism, which I will understand as the view that the human mind is an information-using system, and that human cognitive capacities are representational capacities. Of course, notions such as ‘representation’ and ‘information-using’ are terms of art that require explication. As a first pass, representations are “mediating states of an intelligent system that carry information” (Markman and Dietrich 2001, p. 471). They have two important features: (1) they are physically realized, and so (...)
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  30. Frances Egan (2003). Naturalistic Inquiry: Where Does Mental Representation Fit In? In Louise M. Antony (ed.), Chomsky and His Critics. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing 89--104.
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  31. Frances Egan (1995). Computation and Content. Philosophical Review 104 (2):181-203.
  32. Christopher David Eliasmith (2000). How Neurons Mean: A Neurocomputational Theory of Representational Content. Dissertation, Washington University
    Questions concerning representations and what they are about have been a staple of Western philosophy since Aristotle. Recently, however, these same questions have begun to concern neuroscientists, who have developed new techniques and theories for understanding how the locus of representation, the brain, operates. My dissertation draws on philosophy and neuroscience to develop a novel theory of representational content. ;I begin by identifying what I call the problem of "neurosemantics" . This, I argue, is simply an updated version of a (...)
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  33. Michael Esfeld (1999). Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit. Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment. Erkenntnis 51 (2/3):333-346.
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  34. Hartry Field (1990). "Narrow" Aspects of Intentionality and the Information-Theoretic Approach to Content. In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Blackwell 102--116.
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  35. Jerry Fodor (1988). Psychosemantics. Journal of Philosophy 85 (7):384-389.
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  36. D. Canale G. Tuzet (ed.) (2009). The Rules of Inference. Inferentialism in Law and Philosophy, Egea, Milano. Egea (Pp. Pp. 29-44).
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  37. Shaun Gallagher & Katsunori Miyahara (2012). Neo-Pragmatism and Enactive Intentionality. In Jay Schulkin (ed.), New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science: Adaptation and Cephalic Expression. Palgrave Macmillan
  38. Allan Gibbard (1996). Review Essays: Thought, Norms, and Discursive Practice: Commentary on Robert Brandom, Making It Explicit. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):699-717.
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  39. Allan F. Gibbard (1996). Thoughts, Norms, and Discursive Practices: Commentary on Brandom. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):699-717.
  40. Samuel Guttenplan (1995). The Elm and the Expert. Mentalese and its Semantics By Jerry A. Fodor MIT Press, 1994, Pp. Xiv+129, £15.95. Philosophy 70 (272):293-.
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  41. Gilbert Harman (1978). Is There Mental Representation? Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9.
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  42. B. Hassrick (1995). Fred Dretske on the Explanatory Role of Semantic Content. Conference 6 (1):59-66.
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  43. Anandi Hattiangadi (2003). Making It Implicit: Brandom on Rule-Following. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2):419-31.
    In Making it Explicit, Brandom aims to articulate an account of conceptual content that accommodates its normativity--a requirement on theories of content that Brandom traces to Wittgenstein's rule following considerations. It is widely held that the normativity requirement cannot be met, or at least not with ease, because theories of content face an intractable dilemma. Brandom proposes to evade the dilemma by adopting a middle road--one that uses normative vocabulary, but treats norms as implicit in practices. I argue that this (...)
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  44. Joseph Heath (2001). Brandom et les sources de la normativité. Philosophiques 28 (1):27-46.
    RÉSUMÉ. — Robert Brandom a tenté de déplacer le concept de représentation de sa position de concept explicatif central en philosophie du langage et de le remplacer par un ensemble de concepts explicatifs dérivés de l’analyse de l’action sociale. Il soutient que le concept de norme sociale peut servir de concept primitif dans le développement d’une théorie générale de la signification. Selon Brandom, le problème central lié au fait de considérer la représentation comme un primitif explicatif est que nous n’avons (...)
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  45. Terence E. Horgan (1991). Actions, Reasons, and the Explanatory Role of Content. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell
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  46. Amir Horowitz (1994). A Note on the Intentionality of Fear. Philosophica 53:73-79.
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  47. Michael Johnson & Ernie Lepore (2011). Misrepresenting Misrepresentation. In Elke Brendel (ed.), Understanding Quotation. De Gruyter Mouton 7--231.
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  48. Philip N. Johnson-Laird (1978). What's Wrong with Grandma's Guide to Procedural Semantics: A Reply to Jerry Fodor. Cognition 9 (September):249-61.
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  49. Geert Keil (2010). Naturalismuskritik und Metaphorologie. In Michael Bölker Mathias Gutmann & Wolfgang Hesse (eds.), Information und Menschenbild. 155-171.
    In natürlicher Sprache formulierte Theorien über welchen Gegenstandsbereich auch immer zeichnen sich wesentlich durch ihre zentralen Begriffe aus. In der Begrifflichkeit einer Theorie spiegeln sich ihre Klassifikationen und gegebenenfalls die angenommenen natürlichen Arten wider. Da von den natürlichen Arten unter anderem abhängt, welche induktiven Schlüsse möglich sind, kann man ohne Übertreibung sagen, dass die zentralen Begriffe einer Theorie einen Teil ihrer Erklärungslast tragen. Eine naturalistische Theorie beansprucht, die von ihr behandelten Phänomene als Teile der natürlichen Welt verständlich zu machen, und (...)
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  50. Geert Keil (2000). Naturalismus und Intentionalität. In Geert Keil & Herbert Schnädelbach (eds.), Naturalismus. Suhrkamp 187-204.
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