Reference intentionality is an internal relation
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In this paper, I will focus on the basic form of intentionality, reference intentionality (from now on, RI), the property an intentional state has of being ‘directed upon’ a certain object, its intentional object. I will try to prove that (as Husserl, Wittgenstein and others originally envisaged) RI is not only a state - intentional object relation, but it also is an internal, i.e., a necessary, relation between that state and that object, at least in the sense that the state could not exist if it not were so related to the object. The strategy of the paper will be the following. First, I will claim that RI has to be conceived in internal-relational terms, no matter which position one takes on its putative right-hand members, intentional objects. Second, I will claim that this conception fits both ways in which intentional states are nowadays ordinarily conceived, i.e., the externalist and the internalist way. For on the one hand, the best form of externalism, metaphysical externalism, entails a conception of RI as an internal relation. On the other hand, if one is an internalist, she either has to directly stick again to that conception or, insofar as she ontologically is an eliminativist about RI, this ontological position leaves untouched the conception of RI as an internal relation. I stress that this conception yields an understanding of RI. My analysis is indeed meant to be a metaphysical scrutiny of RI, that is, an investigation on the nature of such a property, provided that that there is any. As such, therefore, this scrutiny is independent of the further, ontological, question of whether there is such a property as RI.1 If it turned out that there is no such a thing as RI, this scrutiny will turn out to be a mere investigation in the mere concept of RI. As a result, my analysis is compatible with an eliminativist stance on RI, holding that there is no such property. For such a stance precisely is an ontological, not a metaphysical, position on RI.
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