Reading mother nature's mind

In Don Ross, Andrew Brook & David L. Thompson (eds.), Dennett's Philosophy: A Comprehensive Assessment. MIT Press (2000)
Abstract
I try to focus our differences by examining the relation between what Dennett has termed "the intentional stance" and "the design stance." Dennett takes the intentional stance to be more basic than the design stance. Ultimately it is through the eyes of the intentional stance that both human and natural design are interpreted, hence there is always a degree of interpretive freedom in reading the mind, the purposes, both of Nature and of her children. The reason, or at least a reason, is that intentional interpretation is holistic, hence indeterminate, for the kinds of reasons given by Davidson and Quine. In contrast, I take the design stance to be more basic than the intentional stance. Intentional attributions express our best guesses about the locations of effects of certain kinds of natural design. And although there is often indeterminacy, ambiguity, or vagueness concerning what it is that natural selection (or learning) has selected for, these indeterminacies and vaguenesses are local, not holistic. There is reason to suppose that the better portion of Nature's purposes and the intentional states of her children are determinate in content within quite closely defined limits. I propose to defend this position as well as I can, so as to call from Dennett his own views on precisely where our paths separate (if they really do)
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