Consequences of schematism

In his (2001a) and in some related papers, Tim Crane has maintained that intentional objects are schematic entities, in the sense that, insofar as being an intentional object is not a genuine metaphysical category, qua objects of thought intentional objects have no particular nature. This approach to intentionalia is the metaphysical counterpart of the later Husserl's ontological approach to the same entities, according to which qua objects of thought intentionalia are indifferent to existence. But to buy a metaphysically deflationary approach does not mean to buy an ontologically deflationary approach, according to which we have to accept all the intentional objects there apparently are. Being metaphysically deflationary on intentionalia rather means that from the ontological point of view one must really allow only for those intentionalia for which one is entitled to say that there are such things; typically, for which an ontological proof is available. From metaphysical schematism plus conditional, or partial, ontological committment to intentionalia, further interesting consequences follow. First, this theoretical combination allows one to deal with the ‘too-many entities’ problem (may one fail to accept an ontological proof for an entity of a given kind if she thinks that the entity we would have to be committed to is an entity of another kind?). Second, it allows one to deal with the ‘genuinely true report’ problem (how is it that if we exercise mindreading with respect to a somehow deluded person, we want our reports to come out as really, not merely fictionally, true?)
Keywords Intentional objects  Schematic objects  Intentional contents  Metaphysics  Ontology
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-008-9108-0
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John Searle (1983). Intentionality. Oxford University Press.

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