David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):157-177 (2008)
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 a necessary building block for cognition and high-order intentionality, because the neurons that make up vertebrate brains, like most cells in our body, embody such capacities. I provisionally dub the capacities in question “nano-intentionality”: a microscopic form of “aboutness”. The form of intrinsic intentionality I propose is thoroughly materialistic, fully compatible with known biological facts, and derived non-mysteriously through evolution. Crucially, these capacities are not shared by any existing computers or computer components, and thus provide a clear, empirically-based distinction between brains and currently existing artificial information processing systems. I suggest that an appreciation of this aspect of living matter provides a potential route out of what may otherwise appear to be a hopeless philosophical quagmire confronting information-processing models of the mind.
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References found in this work BETA
Daniel C. Dennett (1996). Kinds of Minds. Basic Books.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (1996). Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press.
John R. Searle (1980). Minds, Brains and Programs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Citations of this work BETA
Bryce Huebner (2011). Genuinely Collective Emotions. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):89-118.
Fred Adams (2010). Information and Knowledge à la Floridi. Metaphilosophy 41 (3):331-344.
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