This piece criticizes Fodor's argument (in The Elm and the Expert, 1994) for the claim that Frege cases should be treated as exceptions to (broad) psychological generalizations rather than as counterexamples.
Rosenberg argues that intentional generalizations in the human sciences cannot be law-like because they are not amenable to significant empirical refinement. This irrefinability is said to result from the principle that supposedly controls in intentional explanation also serving as the standard for successful interpretation. The only credible evidence bearing on such a principle would then need conform to it. I argue that psychological generalizations are refinable and can be nomic. I show how empirical refinement of psychological generalizations is (...) possible by considering concrete cases. A sufficiently detailed view of the role of psychological generalizations in interpretation allows us to find in psychological investigations instances of bootstrap testing. (shrink)
I have argued elsewhere that the psychological aspects of Nietzsche’s later works are best understood from a psychodynamic point of view. Nietzsche holds a view I dubbed the tenacity of the intentional (T): when an intentional state loses its object, a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. In this essay I amend and clarify (T) to (T``): When an intentional state with a sub-propositional object loses its object, the affective component of the (...) state persists without a corresponding object, and that affect will generally be redeployed in a state with a distinct object. I then trace the development of the tenacity thesis through Nietzsche’s early and middle works. Along the way, I discuss a number of related topics, including the scope of the tenacity thesis (does it apply to all intentional states?), the reflexive turn one often finds in Nietzsche’s examples (why does he so often say the new object is oneself?), and the relations among will to power, drives, and the tenacity of the intentional. (shrink)
Speakers often judge the sentence "Lois Lane believes that Superman flies" to be true and the sentence "Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent flies" to be false. If Millianism is true, however, these sentences express the very same proposition and must therefore have same truth value. "Pragmatic" Millians like Salmon and Soames have tried to explain speakers' "anti-substitution intuitions" by claiming that the two sentences are routinely used to pragmatically convey different propositions which do have different truth values. "Non-Pragmatic" Millians (...) like Braun, on the other hand, have argued that the Millian should not appeal to pragmatics and opt instead for a purely psychological explanation. I will present two objections against Non-Pragmatic Millianism. The first one is that the view cannot account for the intuitions of speakers who accept the identity sentence "Superman is Clark Kent": applying a psychological account in this case, I will argue, would yield wrong predictions about speakers who resist substitution with simple sentences. I will then consider a possible response from the non-pragmatic Millian and show that the response in question would in fact require an appeal to pragmatics. My conclusion will be that Braun's psychological explanation of anti-substitution intuitions is untenable, and that the Millian is therefore forced to adopt a pragmatic account. My second objection is that Non-Pragmatic Millianism cannot account for the role that certain commonsense intentional generalizations play in the explanation of behavior. I will consider a reply offered by Braun and argue that it still leaves out a large class of important generalizations. My conclusion will be that Braun’s non-pragmatic strategy fails and that, again, the Millian must go for a pragmatic account in order to deal with intentional generalizations. In light of my two objections, my general conclusion will be that non-pragmatic versions of Millianism should be rejected. This has an important consequence: if Millianism is true, then some pragmatic Millian account must be correct. It follows that, if standard objections against pragmatic accounts succeed, then Millianism must be rejected altogether. (shrink)
Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not _evaluative _considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by (...) the hypothesis that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.<b> </b>. (shrink)
Taking our lead from Solomon’s emphasis on the importance of the intentional object of emotion, we review the history of repeated attempts to make this object disappear. We adduce evidence suggesting that in the case of James and Schachter, the intentional object got lost unintentionally. By contrast, modern constructivists (in particular Barrett) seem quite determined to deny the centrality of the intentional object in accounting for the occurrence of emotions. Griffiths, however, downplays the role objects have in (...) emotion noting that these do not qualify as intentional. We argue that these disappearing acts, deliberate or not, generate fruitless debate and add little to the advancement of our understanding of emotion as an adaptive mechanism to cope with events that are relevant to an organism’s life. (shrink)
This short paper, forthcoming as part of a symposium on experimental philosophy to appear in the popular publication, The Philosophers’ Magazine (including contributions by Papineau, Stich, Machery, Sommers, and Knobe), offers an accessible summary of seven years of experimental-philosophical research into intentional action attributions.
Intentional action involves both a series of neural events in the motor areas of the brain, and also a distinctive conscious experience that ''I'' am the author of the action. This paper investigates some possible ways in which these neural and phenomenal events may be related. Recent models of motor prediction are relevant to the conscious experience of action as well as to its neural control. Such models depend critically on matching the actual consequences of a movement against its (...) internally predicted effects. However, it remains unclear whether our conscious experience of action depends on a precise matching process, or a retrospective inference that ''I'' must have been responsible for a particular event. We report an experiment in which normal subjects judged the perceived time of either intentional actions, involuntary movements, or subsequent effects (auditory tones) of these. We found that the subject's intention to produce the auditory tone produced an intentional binding between the perceived times of the subject's action and the tone. However, if the intention was interrupted by an imposed involuntary movement, followed by the identical tone, no such binding occurred. The phenomenology of intentional action requires an appropriate predictive link between intentions and effects, rather than a retrospective inference that ''I'' caused the effect. (shrink)
Knobe argues that people’s judgments of the moral status of a side-effect of action influence their assessment of whether the side-effect is intentional. We tested this hypothesis using vignettes akin to Knobe’s but involving economically or eudaimonistically (wellness-related) negative side-effects. Our results show that it is people’s sense of what agents deserve and not the moral status of side-effects that drives intuition.
In opposition to the tenet of contemporary action theory that an intentional action must be done for a reason, I argue that some intentional actions are unmotivated. I provide examples of arbitrary and habitual actions that are done for no reason at all. I consider and rebut an objection to the examples of unmotivated habitual action. I explain how my contention differs from recent challenges to the tenet by Hursthouse, Stocker and Pollard.
The ‘Knobe effect’ is the name given to the empirical finding that judgments about whether an action is intentional or not seem to depend on the moral valence of this action. To account for this phenomenon, Scaife and Webber have recently advanced the ‘Consideration Hypothesis’, according to which people’s ascriptions of intentionality are driven by whether they think the agent took the outcome in consideration when taking his decision. In this paper, I examine Scaife and Webber’s hypothesis and conclude (...) that it is supported neither by the existing literature nor by their own experiments, whose results I did not replicate, and that the ‘Consideration Hypothesis’ is not the best available account of the ‘Knobe Effect’. (shrink)
I argue for the following analysis of a freely willed action: an act is done of one's own free will, if and only if, it is an intentional act performed by one acting as a rational agent from unobstructed reasons, and so situated that he or she has the capacity to forbear from performing it.
It is natural to think that at root, agents are beings that act. Agents do more than this, however – agents omit to act. Sometimes agents do so intentionally. How should we understand intentional omission? Recent accounts of intentional omission have given causation a central theoretical role. The move is well-motivated. If some form of causalism about intentional omission can successfully exploit similarities between action and omission, it might inherit the broad support causalism about intentional action (...) enjoys. In this paper I consider the prospects for causalism about intentional omission. I examine two recent proposals: one Carolina Sartorio (2009) defends, and one Randolph Clarke (2010a) defends. I argue these versions fail, and for a similar reason. Reflection on the function of intention for agency brings this reason to light, and motivates a novel causalism about intentional omission. On the account I go on to defend necessarily, an agent J intentionally omits to A only if an intention of J’s with relevant content (or the intention’s acquisition) causes in J a disposition not to A. Though the causal work done by intentions to omit differs in some cases from the causal work done by intentions to act, it turns out that causalism about intentional behavior (i.e., about action and omission) is viable. (shrink)
Locke, Berkeley, Gentzen gave dierent justi cations of universal generalization. In particular, Gentzen's justi cation is the one currently used in most logic textbooks. In this paper I argue that all such justi cations are problematic, and propose an alternative justi cation which is related to the approach to generality of Greek mathematics.
The paper motivates a novel research programme in the philosophy of action parallel to the ‘Knowledge First’ programme in epistemology. It is argued that much of the grounds for abandoning the quest for a reductive analysis of knowledge in favour of the Knowledge First alternative are mirrored in the case of intentional action, inviting the hypothesis that intentional action is also, like knowledge, metaphysically basic. The paper goes on to demonstrate the sort of explanatory contribution that intentional (...) action can make once it is no longer taken to be a target for reductive analysis, in explaining other, non-intentional kinds of action and voluntariness. (shrink)
I argue that intentional psychology does not stand in need of vindication by a lower-level implementation theory from cognitive science, in particular the representational theory of mind (RTM), as most famously Jerry Fodor has argued. The stance of the paper is novel in that I claim this holds even if one, in line with Fodor, views intentional psychology as an empirical theory, and its theoretical posits as as real as those of other sciences. I consider four metaphysical arguments (...) for the idea that intentional psychological states, such as beliefs, must be seen as requiring in-the-head mental representations for us to be able to understand their characteristic causal powers and argue that none of them validly generate their desired conclusions. I go on to argue that RTM, or some computational version thereof, is not motivated by appeal to the nature of cognitive science research either. I conclude that intentional psychology, though an empirical theory, is autonomous from details of lower level mechanism in a way that renders RTM unwarranted. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, to make intentional actions fully intelligible, we need to posit representations of action the content of which is nonconceptual. I further argue that an analysis of the properties of these nonconceptual representations, and of their relation- ships to action representations at higher levels, sheds light on the limits of intentional control. On the one hand, the capacity to form nonconceptual representations of goal-directed movements underscores the capacity to acquire executable concepts of these (...) movements, thus allowing them to come under intentional control. On the other hand, the degree of autonomy these nonconceptual representations enjoy, and the specific temporal constraints stemming from their role in motor control, set limits on intentional control over action execution. (shrink)
My aim in this article is to ascertain whether any of the interesting phenomena that Daniel Wegner discusses in The Illusion of Conscious Will (2002) falsify a certain hypothesis about intentional actions. Here is a rough, preliminary statement of the hypothesis: Whenever human agents perform an overt, intentional action, A, some intention of theirs is a cause of A. The hypothesis is refined in section 1. In section 2, I turn to this article's main question.
This paper tries to show that Kims strategy of preventing the problem of generalization of mental causation is not successful and that his original supervenience argument can be applied to cases of nonmental macrolevel causation, with the effect that nonmental macroproperties which only supervene on, but are not identical with, configurations of microproperties turn out to be epiphenomenal after all.
Critics of wide functionalism have traditionally sought to attack the theory by exposing weaknesses in its account of the qualitative content of experience. Wide functionalist theories of intentional content, however, were spared philosophical scrutiny. I propose that wide functionalist accounts of the intentional content are equally susceptible to attack. I will attempt to demonstrate this by enlisting the functionalist's old foe from the qualia wars - the inverted spectrum hypothesis - in a new way. If the argument is (...) sound, not only will I have shown that the inverted spectrum hypothesis may have more use than philosophical literature recognizes, I will have also exposed a weakness in a dominant philosophical theory: the wide functionalist theory of intentional content. (shrink)
There are plausible objections to substitutional construals of generalization. But these objections do not apply to a substitutional construal of generalization proposed by Peter Geach several years ago. This paper examines Geach’s conception.
Recent empirical work calls into question the so-called Simple View that an agent who A’s intentionally intends to A. In experimental studies, ordinary speakers frequently assent to claims that, in certain cases, agents who knowingly behave wrongly intentionally bring about the harm they do; yet the speakers tend to deny that it was the intention of those agents to cause the harm. This paper reports two additional studies that at first appear to support the original ones, but argues that in (...) fact, the evidence of all the studies considered is best understood in terms of the Simple View. (shrink)
The literature on collective action largely ignores the constraints that moral principle places on action-prompting intentions. Here I suggest that neither individualism nor holism can account for the generality of intentional contents demanded by universalizability principles, respect for persons, or proactive altruism. Utilitarian and communitarian ethics are criticized for nominalism with respect to social intentions. The failure of individualism and holism as grounds for moral theory is confirmed by comparing Tuomela's reductivist analysis of we-intentions with Gilbert's analysis of social (...) facts. Tuomela's account founders over intentions to cooperate, and Gilbert's cannot accommodate legitimate authority, vicarious agency, or group structure. (shrink)
Strong or Pure Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its Intentional content. Strong or Pure Anti-Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its non-Intentional properties. In Chapters One and Two, I consider how best to delineate the opposition between these positions. I reject various characterizations of the distinction, in particular, that it (...) can be captured in modal terms. Pure Intentionalist and Pure Anti-Intentionalist accounts can in fact share a modal profile. The most fundamental way of distinguishing Intentionalism from Anti-Intentionalism is in terms of the Intentionalist claim that experiences have contents with truth or satisfaction conditions. Characterized in this way, Intentionalism is committed to the claim that perceptual experience exhibits a certain kind of generality in that perceptual experiences essentially present their objects as being certain general ways. In contrast, the anti-Intentionalist denies that talk of seeing objects as certain kinds of object or as particular objects of those kinds provides a characterization of any aspect of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. Anti-Intentionalist theories must, therefore, account for phenomenal character wholly in terms of particularist properties. In Chapters Three and Four, I argue that neither of these pure views of experience can do justice to the phenomenology of our ordinary perceptual encounters with the world. In Chapter Three, I contend that Pure Anti- Intentionalism, at least in the form of Bill Brewer’s Object View, fails to provide a satisfactory account of the phenomenology of aspect shifts and continuous aspect perception. Furthermore, I argue that the Object View’s accounts of perceptual illusion are ill-motivated and fundamentally unsatisfactory. In Chapter Four, I argue that Pure Intentionalism is inconsistent with the phenomenologically evident fact that experiences are durational events which unfold over time. Accordingly, the assumption that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience must be wholly characterized in terms of one kind of property, be it Intentionalist or non-Intentionalist, should be rejected. Any plausible theory of experience must appeal to different kinds of phenomenal property. In Chapter Five, I defend a view which does just this: the Catholic View of experience. The Catholic View claims that the phenomenal character of any mature human experience must be characterized in terms of both particularist and Intentional properties. I conclude by showing how this account avoids the most serious criticisms that have been levelled against the idea of non-representational, or ‘given’ elements in experience. (shrink)
Much of the recent work in action theory can be organized around a set of objections facing the Simple View and other intention-based accounts of intentional action. In this paper, I review three of the most popular objections to the Simple View and argue that all three objections commit a common fallacy. I then draw some more general conclusions about the relationship between intentional action and moral responsibility.
Edmund Husserl (1859—1938) was an influential thinker of the first half of the twentieth century. His philosophy was heavily influenced by the works of Franz Brentano and Bernard Bolzano, and was also influenced in various ways by interaction with contemporaries such as Alexius Meinong, Kasimir Twardowski, and Gottlob Frege. In his own right, Husserl is considered the founder of twentieth century Phenomenology with influence extending to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and to contemporary continental philosophy generally. (...) Husserl’s philosophy is also being discussed in connection with contemporary research in the cognitive sciences, logic, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind, as well as in discussions of collective intentionality. At the center of Husserl’s philosophical investigations is the notion of the intentionality of consciousness and the related notion of intentional content (what Husserl first called ‘act-matter’ and then the intentional ‘noema’). To say that thought is “intentional” is to say that it is of the nature of thought to be directed toward or about objects. To speak of the “intentional content” of a thought is to speak of the mode or way in which a thought is about an object. Different thoughts present objects in different ways (from different perspectives or under different descriptions) and one way of doing justice to this fact is to speak of these thoughts as having different intentional contents. For Husserl, intentionality includes a wide range of phenomena, from perceptions, judgments, and memories to the experience of other conscious subjects as subjects (inter-subjective experience) and aesthetic experience, just to name a few. Given the pervasive role he takes intentionality to play in all thought and experience, Husserl believes that a systematic theory of intentionality has a role to play in clarifying and founding most other areas of philosophical concern, such as the theory of consciousness, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic, epistemology, and the philosophies of action and value. This article presents the key elements of Husserl’s understanding of intentionality and intentional content, specifically as these are developed in his works Logical Investigations and Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism (...) is by a special use of the concept of biological function, as understood in an enriched causal role (not selected effect) sense. On this view, a behavioral trait is essentially a special kind of regularity, namely a regularity that is produced by some regulatory mechanism. Regulatory mechanisms always require goal states, which can only be provided by functional considerations. As an example from actual (as opposed to folk) science, I examine the case of social behavior in nematodes. I show that the attempt to explain this phenomenon actually transformed it. This supports the view that scientific explanation does not explain an explanandum phenomenon that is given prior to the explanation; rather, the explanandum is changed by the explanation. This means that there could be a plurality of stances that have some heuristic value initially, but which will be abandoned in favor of a functional characterization eventually. (shrink)
Is Aquinas a representationalist or a direct realist? Max Herrera’s (and, for that matter, Claude Panaccio’s) qualified answers to each alternative show that the real significance of the question is not that if we answer it, then we can finally learn under which classification Aquinas should fall, but rather that upon considering it we can learn something about the intricacies of the question itself. In these comments I will first argue that the Averroistic notion of “intentional transfer”, combined with (...) the Avicennean idea of the indifference of nature, yielding the Thomistic doctrine of the formal unity of the knower and the known renders the question moot with regard to Aquinas, indeed, with regard to the pre-modern epistemological tradition in general. These considerations will then lead to a number of further, both historical and philosophical questions, which I will offer in the end for further discussion. (shrink)
On a causal theory of rational behavior, behavior is just a causal consequence of the reasons an actor has. One of the difficulties with this theory has been the possibility of the "wayward causal chains," according to which reasons can cause the expected output, but in such an unusual way that the output is clearly not intentional. The inability to find a general way of excluding these wayward chains without implicitly appealing to elements incompatible with a pure causal account (...) (like brute acts of will) has been a problem for the causal theory. This essay attempts to find a general solution to the problem. The solution rests on the premise that behavior-producing systems are goal-directed, and that on a purely causal analysis of goal-directedness it can be shown that the wayward chains' resulting in the goal is purely fortuitous because these chains do not subserve the function of the system. (shrink)
Progressively Husserl started referring to the whole sphere of the life of intentional acts in terms of praxis. Perception, imagination, judgement, scientific consciousness, etc., are all seen as practices. What is the meaning of this move? A seemingly self-evident possibility is that intentionality is praxial, because even perception is not completely free from empty intending moments that demand fulfilment; and all fulfilment is attained by means of bodily activities that enable our senses to acquire the relevant contents. I reject (...) this approach as insufficient and misguided. I argue that perception and intentionality in general is praxial because consciousness, in all of its constituting syntheses, is or becomes organized as a practice-structure. Intentional consciousness organizes its contents according to rules so as to accomplish the evident or true givenness of its intended correlates. (shrink)
This paper investigates the truth conditions of sentences containing indefinite noun phrases, focusing on occurrences in attitude reports, and, in particular, a puzzle case due to Walter Edelberg. It is argued that indefinites semantically contribute the (thought-)object they denote, in a manner analogous to attributive definite descriptions. While there is an existential reading of attitude reports containing indefinites, it is argued that the existential quantifier is contributed by the de re interpretation of the indefinite (as the de re reading adds (...) existential quantification to the interpretation of definites on Kaplan’s analysis). (shrink)
Two of the leading contenders to explain behavior are radical behaviorism and intentionality: an account that seeks to confine itself to descriptions of response–environment correlations and one that employs the language of beliefs and desires to explicate its subject matter. While each claims an exclusive right to undertake this task, this paper argues that neither can be eliminated from a complete explanatory account of human behavior. The behavior analysis derived from radical behaviorism is generally sufficient for the prediction and control (...) of behavior in the laboratory and its applications, but it fails to provide an explanation of behavior since it cannot deal with the personal level of explanation, the continuity of behavior, and the delimitation of behaviorist interpretations. Only the inclusion of intentional terms can achieve these ends. An intentional account cannot succeed, however, without the incorporation of a behavioral criterion for the ascription of intentional content based on the analysis of systematic environment–behavior relationships. This paper proposes an overarching philosophical framework for the analysis and interpretation of behavior that incorporates both radical behaviorism and intentional psychology in a model, "intentional behaviorism," that additionally links the explanation of behavior to neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Finally, the paper proposes a link between the philosophical framework of intentional behaviorism and the world of empirical science by describing a tentative model of research, "super-personal cognitive psychology," that shows how the disparate elements previously discussed impinge upon psychological investigation. (shrink)
This article discusses fundamental problems in "rational choice theory," as outlined by Jon Elster. Elster's discussion of why institutions may not be said to act shows his fundamental presupposition that only "monolithic," unitary entities are capable of action. This is, for him, a reason why only individual human beings may be said to act. Furthermore, human beings may be said to act only insofar as they "maximize" (their "utility") on the basis of a unitary, complete, consistent "preference structure." All action (...) that is not maximization in this sense is for Elster not really human action, but rather instances of "pure causality." Elster distinguishes between the "real," intentional person, who "maximizes," and "purely causal forces" within the person. This article tries to show that this radical, sharp dichotomy between "intentionality," in this narrow sense, and "pure causality" is inadequate as a basis for understanding human action. This radical dichotomy is central to important arguments made by Elster more generally. (shrink)
In this article, I develop an account of the use of intentional predicates in cognitive neuroscience explanations. As pointed out by Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker, intentional language abounds in neuroscience theories. According to Bennett and Hacker, the subpersonal use of intentional predicates results in conceptual confusion. I argue against this overly strong conclusion by evaluating the contested language use in light of its explanatory function. By employing conceptual resources from the contemporary philosophy of science, I show (...) that although the use of intentional predicates in mechanistic explanations sometimes leads to explanatorily inert claims, intentional predicates can also successfully feature in mechanistic explanations as tools for the functional analysis of the explanandum phenomenon. Despite the similarities between my account and Daniel Dennett's intentional-stance approach, I argue that intentional stance should not be understood as a theory of subpersonal causal explanation, and therefore cannot be used to assess the explanatory role of intentional predicates in neuroscience. Finally, I outline a general strategy for answering the question of what kind of language can be employed in mechanistic explanations. (shrink)
When employing causal terminology in analyzing intentional action, and sometimes in analyzing additional phenomena, philosophers have required that relevant causal chains be free of what they call causal deviance or waywardness. But there is a wider type of deviance that needs to be excluded, of which causal deviance is only a species. Carl Ginet’s On Action considers examples of both types of deviance. A criticism of his treatment of such examples leads to a more satisfactory general analysis of nondeviant (...) chains in terms of the manifestations of powers and the occasions for such manifestations. (shrink)
Emotions are characteristic activities/states in hylemorphic structure of the Aristotelian soul. Emotional activities/states are physiological processes/states as well, as it is particularly clear in anger. It raises the question about the origin of their intentionality. Sometimes sheer bodily processes can lead to emotions, which implies that intentionality in emotions might also originate in bodily processes. But Aristotle does not generalize this point in saying that all emotions are due to bodily processes. Moreover, since they are complex phenomena, involving opinion, representation, (...) desire, pleasure and pain, their intentional nature must also be a certain amalgamate of the intentionality of the ingredients. It involves that the relevant kinds of pleasure and pain are also intentional states. On the other hand, besides establishing certain general similarities Aristotle does not seem to have worked out a unifi ed theory of emotions. To mention but one well-known example, most of the emotions he discusses in detail are based on representation, whereas hatred is supported by a general statement. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the primary function of folk psychology lies in the prediction, explanation and control of behavior. A question arises, however, as to whether folk psychology has also been shaped in fundamental ways by the various other roles it plays in people’s lives. Here I approach that question by considering one particular aspect of folk psychology – the distinction between intentional and unintentional behaviors. The aim is to determine whether this distinction is best understood as a (...) tool used in prediction, explanation and control or whether it has been shaped in fundamental ways by some other aspect of its use. (shrink)
The Author argues for a non-semantic theory of intentionality, i.e. a theory of intentional reference rooted in the perceptive world. Specifically, the paper concerns two aspects of the original theory of intentionality: the structure of intentional objects as appearance (an unfolding spatio-temporal structure endowed with a direction), and the cognitive processes involved in a psychic act at the primary level of cognition. Examples are given from the experimental psychology of vision, with a particular emphasis on the relation between (...) phenomenal space and colour appearances. (shrink)
This article reviews some recent empirical work on lay judgments about what agents do intentionally and what they intend in various stories and explores its bearing on the philosophical project of providing a conceptual analysis of intentional action. The article is a case study of the potential bearing of empirical studies of a variety of folk concepts on philosophical efforts to analyze those concepts and vice versa. Topics examined include double effect; the influence of moral considerations on judgments about (...) what is done intentionally and about what is intended; the influence of considerations of luck, skill, and causal deviance on judgments about what agents do intentionally; what interesting properties all cases of intentional action might share; and the debate between proponents of, respectively, "the Simple View" of the connection between intentional action and intention and "the Single Phenomenon View" of that connection. A substantial body of literature is devoted to the project of analyzing intentional action  . In this article, I explore the bearing on that project of some recent empirical work on lay judgments about what is done intentionally and about what is intended. This article may reasonably be regarded as a case study of the potential bearing of empirical studies of a range of folk concepts on philosophical efforts to analyze those concepts and, likewise, of the potential bearing of attempted philosophical analyses of folk concepts on empirical studies of those concepts. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to challenge the claim that the neural activity commonly referred to as 'readiness potential' constitutes evidence for the unconscious initiation of action. Although I accept that such neural activity seriously challenges the commonly held view that one's sense of volition is causally efficacious, I nevertheless contend that much of our everyday engagement with the world is consciously initiated. Thus, a distinction is made between awareness and what the awareness is of: the latter constituting the (...) conscious decision to act in accordance with one's goal, or what I have termed intentional project. Initiation of an action in accordance with one's intentional project grounds the action in meaning, something that would be lacking in an exclusively unconscious decision to act. (shrink)
Two putative functions of emotion experience ? its roles in intentional action and in social understanding ? were investigated using a group of individuals (repressors) known to have impaired anxiety experience. Repressors, low-anxious, high-anxious, and defensive high-anxious individuals were asked to give a public presentation, and then given the opportunity to avoid the presentation. Repressors were the group most likely to avoid giving the presentation, but were the least likely to give an emotional explanation for their avoidance. By contrast, (...) they were not less likely than other groups to provide negative emotional explanations of another person?s behaviour in a film clip. We concluded that: (1) repressors are impaired in self- but not in other-explanation using emotion, implying that ?simulation? is not the method used by repressors to ground their folk psychology, (2) the intentional avoidance shown by repressors is indicative of some intact first-order phenomenal anxiety experience but that they lack second-order awareness of this anxiety experience. (shrink)
In any given day, I do many things. I perspire, digest and age. When I walk, I place one foot ahead of the other, my arms swinging gently at my sides; if someone bumps into me, I stumble. Perspiring, digesting, aging, placing my feet, swaying my arms and stumbling are all things I do, in some sense. Yet I also check my email, teach students and go to the grocery store. Those sorts of doings or behaviors seem distinctive; they are (...) things I do intentionally. -/- What exactly is an intentional action? How does it differ from other things we do? -/- In this essay, I motivate and sketch an answer to those questions. On this view, an intentional action is a behavior that essentially alters what the actor is rationally accountable for, what she is rationally permitted or obliged to do, think, or feel. On this view, acting intentionally essentially involves a normative expectation that one has reasons for what one does. I call this view Normative Functionalism. -/- I begin in §2 by presenting a different, somewhat intuitive and popular view of intentional action, the so-called Causal Theory of Action. While that view does seem plausible, I allege that it doesn’t seem to accommodate the apparent fact that actors are accountable for their intentional actions. That motivates Normative Functionalism, which I sketch in §3. I conclude in §4 by offering an interim assessment of the discussion. (shrink)
We study a generalization of the Muddy Children puzzle by allowing public announcements with arbitrary generalized quantifiers. We propose a new concise logical modeling of the puzzle based on the number triangle representation of quantifi ers. Our general aim is to discuss the possibility of epistemic modeling that is cut for specifi c informational dynamics. Moreover, we show that the puzzle is solvable for any number of agents if and only if the quanti fier in the announcement is positively (...) active (satis es a form of variety). (shrink)
This volume brings together a distinguished, international list of scholars to explore the role of the learner's intention in knowledge change. Traditional views of knowledge reconstruction placed the impetus for thought change outside the learner's control. The teacher, instructional methods, materials, and activities were identified as the seat of change. Recent perspectives on learning, however, suggest that the learner can play an active, indeed, intentional role in the process of knowledge restructuring. This volume explores this new, innovative view of (...) conceptual change learning using original contributions drawn from renowned scholars in a variety of disciplines. The volume is intended for scholars or advanced students studying knowledge acquisition and change, including educational psychology, developmental psychology, science education, cognitive science, learning science, instructional psychology, and instructional and curriculum studies. (shrink)
One of the main problems of current theory of intentionality concerns the possibility of ahistorical intentional content, that is, content in the absence of any developmental history of the respective item. Biosemanticists like Millikan (1984) argue that content is essentially historical, while computationalists like Cummins (1989) hold that a system's current ahistorical state alone determines content. In the present paper, this problem is discussed in terms of some popular 'cosmic accident' thought experiments, and the conceptual framework of these experiments (...) is enriched by some new versions like accidental 'duplicates' without any preexisting original. As a result of these evaluations, it is argued that for an item to bear intentional content it is necessary to have a 'function' in the forward-looking sense introduced by Bigelow & Pargetter (1987). Since historicity is not necessary for functionality, ahistorical states can be intentional as long as they have functions. This result does not support computationalism, since functionality cannot be determined in terms of current ashistorical state alone, but only with reference to the present and future environmental context of the cognitive system that harbours these states. (shrink)
Intentional systems theory is in the first place an analysis of the meanings of such everyday ‘mentalistic’ terms as ‘believe,’ ‘desire,’ ‘expect,’ ‘decide,’ and ‘intend,’ the terms of ‘folk psychology’ (Dennett 1971) that we use to interpret, explain, and predict the behavior of other human beings, animals, some artifacts such as robots and computers, and indeed ourselves. In traditional parlance, we seem to be attributing minds to the things we thus interpret, and this raises a host of questions about (...) the conditions under which a thing can be truly said to have a mind, or to have beliefs, desires and other ‘mental’ states. According to intentional systems theory, these questions can best be answered by analyzing the logical presuppositions and methods of our attribution practices, when we adopt the intentional stance toward something. Anything that is usefully and voluminously predictable from the intentional stance is, by definition, an intentional system. The intentional stance is the strategy of interpreting the behavior of an entity (person, animal, artifact, whatever) by treating it as if it were a rational agent who governed its ‘choice’ of ‘action’ by a ‘consideration’ of its ‘beliefs’ and ‘desires.’ The scare-quotes around all these terms draw attention to the fact that some of their standard connotations may be set aside in the interests of exploiting their central features: their role in practical reasoning, and hence in the prediction of the behavior of practical reasoners. (shrink)
In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche demands that “psychology shall be recognized again as the queen of the sciences.” While one might cast a dubious glance at the “again,” many of Nietzsche’s insights were indeed psychological, and many of his arguments invoke psychological premises. In Genealogy, he criticizes the “English psychologists” for the “inherent psychological absurdity” of their theory of the origin of good and bad, pointing out the implausibility of the claim that the utility of unegoistic actions would be forgotten. Tabling (...) whether this criticism is valid, we see Nietzsche’s methodological naturalism here: moral claims should be grounded in empirical psychological claims. Later in Genealogy, Nietzsche advances his own naturalistic account of the origins of good, bad, and evil. Three cheers for methodological naturalism, but it was not Nietzsche’s innovation, and he did not pioneer its application to morality. The list of moral naturalists who appealed to psychology arguably includes Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Bentham, and Mill, among many others. If Nietzsche’s naturalism is to be worth the candle of contemporary scholarship, it must involve more than the methodological naturalism that predated him by centuries and to which he made no serious contribution. Nietzsche’s key contribution to naturalism is not his adherence to its methodology, but his discovery of certain psychological facts. In particular, he realized that mental states are not ordinary dyadic relations between a subject and an intentional content. Nietzsche discovered the tenacity of intentional states: when an intentional state loses its object (because the subject realizes the object does not exist, because the object is forbidden, or because of something else), a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. As Nietzsche puts it Genealogy, “Man would rather will the void than be void of will.” Nietzsche relies on the tenacity thesis in his explanation of the origin of bad conscience: “All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward […. They turn] against [their] possessors.” When hostility towards others becomes impossible, hostility does not disappear; instead, its object is replaced. (shrink)
In his ecological approach to perception, james gibson introduced the concept of affordance to refer to the perceived meaning of environmental objects and events. this paper examines the relational and causal character of affordances, as well as the grounds for extending affordances beyond environmental features with transcultural meaning to include those features with culturally-specific meaning. such an extension is seen as warranted once affordances are grounded in an intentional analysis of perception. toward this end, aspects of merleau-ponty's treatment of (...) perception are explored. finally, a resolution of the apparent tension between the relational and perceiver-independent nature of affordances is presented. (shrink)
Recent studies by experimental philosophers demonstrate puzzling asymmetries in people’s judgments about intentional action, leading many philosophers to propose that normative factors are inappropriately influencing intentionality judgments. In this paper, I present and defend the Deep Self Model of judgments about intentional action that provides a quite different explanation for these judgment asymmetries. The Deep Self Model is based on the idea that people make an intuitive distinction between two parts of an agent’s psychology, an Acting Self that (...) contains the desires, means-end beliefs, and intentions that are the immediate causal source of an agent’s actions, and a Deep Self, which contains an agent’s stable and central psychological attitudes, including the agent’s values, principles, life goals, and other more fundamental attitudes. The Deep Self Model proposes that when people are asked to make judgments about whether an agent brought about an outcome intentionally, in addition to standard criteria proposed in traditional models, people also assess an additional ‘Concordance Criterion’: Does the outcome concord with the psychological attitudes of the agent’s Deep Self? I show that the Deep Self Model can explain a very complex pattern of judgment asymmetries documented in the experimental philosophy literature, and does so in a way that has significant advantages over competing models. (shrink)
Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle.
Psychologists distinguish between intentional systems which have beliefs and those which are also able to attribute beliefs to others. The ability to do the latter is called having a `theory of mind', and many cognitive ethologists are hoping to find evidence for this ability in animal behaviour. I argue that Dennett's theory entails that any intentional system that interacts with another intentional system (such as vervet monkeys and chess-playing computers) has a theory of mind, which would make (...) the distinction all but meaningless. This entailment should not be accepted; instead, Dennett's position that intentional behaviour is best predictable via the intentional stance should be rejected in favour of a pluralistic view of behaviour prediction. I introduce an additional method which humans often use to predict intentional and non-intentional behaviour, which could be called the inductive stance. (shrink)
Franz Brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept of intentional inexistence is often cited as reintroducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the 20th century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.1 It is important to correct these misunderstandings if we are to come to a proper assessment of Brentano’s worth as (...) a philosopher and his position in the history of philosophy. Good corrections have been made in the recent analytic literature by David Bell (1990), Dermot Moran (1996), and Barry Smith (1994) among others. But there is also another, more purely philosophical lesson to be learned from the proper understanding of Brentano’s views on this matter. This is that Brentano’s struggles with the concept of intentionality reveal a fundamental division between different ways of thinking about intentionality, an division which Brentano himself does not make fully clear. Making the nature of this division explicit is the aim of this paper. (shrink)
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
It is reasonably well accepted that the explanation of intentional action is teleological explanation. Very roughly, an explanation of some event, E, is teleological only if it explains E by citing some goal or purpose or reason that produced E. Alternatively, teleological explanations of intentional action explain “by citing the state of affairs toward which the behavior was directed” thereby answering questions like “To what end was the agent’s behavior directed?” Causalism—advocated by causalists—is the thesis that explanations of (...)intentional action are both causal and teleological. By contrast, non-causalism—advocated by non-causalists—is the thesis that explanations of intentional action are teleological but not causal. Familiarly, the problem of causal deviance plagues causalism. But while some have supposed that the problem is grave enough that causalism is bound to suffer a global breakdown, the rumors of causalism’s demise are greatly exaggerated. In what follows, I note that every instance of causal deviance is also an instance of teleological deviance and that teleological deviance is a problem for causalist and non-causalist alike, a problem that causalists may be better able to deal with. Or so I argue. (shrink)
How come we can represent Bigfoot even though Bigfoot does not exist, given that representing something involves bearing a relation to it and we cannot bear relations to what does not exist?This is the problem of intentional inexistence. This paper develops a two-step solution to this problem, involving (first) an adverbial account of conscious representation, or phenomenal inten- tionality, and (second) the thesis that all representation derives from conscious representation (all intentionality derives from phenomenal intentionality). The solution is correspondingly (...) two-part: we can consciously represent Bigfoot because consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather instantiating a certain non-relational (“adverbial”) property of representing Bigfoot-wise; and we can non-consciously represent Bigfoot because non-consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather bearing a relation to conscious representations of Bigfoot. (shrink)
In a short article called “Mid-Term Examination: Compare and Contrast” that epitomizes and concludes his book The Intentional Stance, D. C. Dennett (1987) provides a sketch of what he views as an emerging Interpretivist consensus in the philosophy of mind. The gist is that Brentano’s thesis is true (the intentional is irreducible to the physical) and that it follows from the truth of Brentano’s thesis that: strictly speaking, ontologically speaking, there are no such things as beliefs, desires, or (...) other intentional phenomena. But the intentional idioms are “practically indispensable,” and we should see what we can do to make sense of their employment in what Quine called an “essentially dramatic” idiom…. Not just brute facts , then but an element of interpretation…must be recognized in any use of the intentional vocabulary. (Dennett, 1987, p. 342)12 In this context, “making sense of” the prevalence of the intentional idiom is not explaining why it should be indispensable if there are no beliefs or desires for it to refer to. Nor is it specifying the truth conditions of intentional attribution inevitably involves “an element of interpretation.” The discussion that follows treats these two papers together. (shrink)
Many philosophers have claimed that the intentional is normative. (This claim is the analogue, within the philosophy of mind, of the claim that is often made within the philosophy of language, that meaning is normative.) But what exactly does this claim mean? And what reason is there for believing it? In this paper, I shall first try to clarify the content of the claim that the intentional is normative. Then I shall examine a number of the arguments that (...) philosophers have advanced for this claim (and for the parallel claim that meaning is normative). As we shall see, many of these arguments are unsuccessful. However, I shall close by giving a sketch of what may be a successful argument for this claim. (shrink)
Studying the folk concept of intentional action, Knobe (2003a) discovered a puzzling asymmetry: most people consider some bad side effects as intentional while they consider some good side effects as unintentional. In this study, we extend these findings with new experiments. The first experiment shows that the very same effect can be found in ascriptions of intentionality in the case of means for action. The second and third experiments show that means are nevertheless generally judged more intentional (...) than side effects, and that people do take into account the structure of the action when ascribing intentionality. We then discuss a number of hypotheses that can account for these data, using reactions times from our first experiment. (shrink)
In this chapter I look closely at the intentionality of consciousness from a naturalistic perspective. I begin with a consideration of Gurwitsch's suggestive ideas about the role of acts of consciousness in constituting both the objects and the subjects of consciousness. I turn next to a discussion of how these ideas relate to my own empirical approach to intentional relations seen from a developmental perspective. This is followed by a discussion of some recent ideas in philosophical cognitive science on (...) the intentionality of consciousness, both with respect to the objects and the subjects of consciousness. I show that these recent trends tend to naturalize intentionality and consciousness in directions compatible with the descriptive aspects of Gurwitsch's constitutive phenomenology. (shrink)
There has been a long-standing dispute in the philosophical literature about the conditions under which a behavior counts as 'intentional.' Much of the debate turns on questions about the use of certain words and phrases in ordinary language. The present paper investigates these questions empirically, using experimental techniques to investigate people's use of the relevant words and phrases. g.
The ontology of (merely) intentional objects is a can of worms. If we can avoid ontological commitment to such entities, we should. In this paper, I offer a strategy for accomplishing that. This is to reject the traditional act-object account of intentionality in favor of an adverbial account. According to adverbialism about intentionality, having a dragon thought is not a matter of bearing the thinking-about relation to dragons, but of engaging in the activity of thinking dragon-wise.
In the past few years, a number of philosophers (notably, Siewert, C. (The significance of consciousness. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998); Horgan and Tienson (Philosophy of mind: Classical and contemporary readings, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 520–533); Pitt 2004) have maintained the following three theses: (1) there is a distinctive sort of phenomenology characteristic of conscious thought, as opposed to other sorts of conscious mental states; (2) different conscious thoughts have different phenomenologies; and (3) thoughts with the same phenomenology have (...) the same intentional content. The last of these three claims is open to at least two different interpretations. It might mean that the phenomenology of a thought expresses its intentional content, where intentional content is understood as propositional, and propositions are understood as mind-and language-independent abstract entities (such as sets of possible worlds, functions from possible worlds to truth-values, structured n-tuples of objects and properties, etc.). And it might mean that the phenomenology of a thought is its intentional content—that is, that the phenomenology of a thought, like the phenomenology of a sensation, constitutes its content. The second sort of view is a kind of psychologism. Psychologistic views hold that one or another sort of thing—numbers, sentences, propositions, etc.—that we can think or know about is in fact a kind of mental thing. Since Frege, psychologism has been in bad repute among analytic philosophers. It is widely held that Frege showed that such views are untenable, since, among other things, they subjectivize what is in fact objective, and, hence, relativize such things as consistency and truth to the peculiarities of human psychology. The purpose of this paper is to explore the consequences of the thesis that intentional mental content is phenomenological (what I call “intentional psychologism”) and to try to reach a conclusion about whether it yields a tenable view of mind, thought and meaning. I believe the thesis is not so obviously wrong as it will strike many philosophers of mind and language. In fact, it can be defended against the standard objections to psychologism, and it can provide the basis for a novel and interesting account of mentality. (shrink)
We shall formulate an analysis of the ordinary notion of intentional action that clarifies a commonsense distinction between intentional and nonintentional action. Our analysis will build on some typically neglected considerations about relations between lucky action and intentional action. It will highlight the often- overlooked role of evidential considerations in intentional action, thus identifying the key role of certain epistemological considerations in action theory. We shall also explain why some vagueness is indispensable in a characterization of (...)intentional action as ordinarily understood. (shrink)
Intuitions about intentional action have turned out to be sensitive to normative factors: most people say that an indifferent agent brings about an effect of her action intentionally when it is harmful, but unintentionally when it is beneficial. Joshua Knobe explains this asymmetry, which is known as ‘the Knobe effect’, in terms of the moral valence of the effect, arguing that this explanation generalizes to other asymmetries concerning notions as diverse as deciding and being free. I present an alternative (...) explanation of the Knobe effect in terms of normative reasons. This explanation generalizes to other folk psychological notions such as deciding, but not to such notions as being free. I go on to argue against Knobe that offering a unified explanation of all the asymmetries he discusses is in fact undesirable. (shrink)
Abstract: Recent experimental research on the 'Knobe effect' suggests, somewhat surprisingly, that there is a bi-directional relation between attributions of intentional action and evaluative considerations. We defend a novel account of this phenomenon that exploits two factors: (i) an intuitive asymmetry in judgments of responsibility (e.g. praise/blame) and (ii) the fact that intentionality commonly connects the evaluative status of actions to the responsibility of actors. We present the results of several new studies that provide empirical evidence in support of (...) this account while disconfirming various currently prominent alternative accounts. We end by discussing some implications of this account for folk psychology. (shrink)
There has been considerable controversy about whether this last entailment always holds. Ordinary subjects may judge that (4) and (5) are appropriate in cases in which none of (1)-(3) are—cases in which Jack’s breaking the base is a foreseen but undesired consequence of Jack’s intentionally doing something else. It is currently debated what the best explanation of such ordinary reactions might be. It is also debated what to make of the fact that ordinary judgments using the adjective intentional or (...) the adverb intentionally seem influenced by normative considerations. (shrink)
In this paper, I first review some of the recent empirical work on the biasing effect that moral considerations have on folk ascriptions of intentional action. Then, I use Mark Alicke's affective model of blame attribution to explain this biasing effect. Finally, I discuss the relevance of this research - both philosophical and psychological - to the problem of the partiality of jury deliberation. After all, if the immorality of an action does affect folk ascriptions of intentionality, and all (...) serious criminal offenses - e.g., murder and rape - are immoral in addition to being illegal, then a juror's ability to determine the relevant mens rea (i.e., guilty mind) of a defendant in an unbiased way may be seriously undermined. (shrink)
In his recent book on the philosophy of mind,1 Tim Crane has maintained that intentional objects are to be conceived as schematic entities, having no particular intrinsic nature. I take this metaphysical thesis as fundamentally correct. Yet in this paper I want to cast some doubts on whether this thesis prevents intentionalia, especially nonexistent ones, from belonging to the general inventory of what there is, as Crane seems to think. If my doubts are grounded, Crane’s treatment of intentionalia may (...) further be freed from a certain tension that seems to affect it, namely the fact that he appeals to nonexistent intentionalia in order to individuate intentional states and at the same time he attempts at dispensing with them. (shrink)
Recent research in moral psychology has attempted to characterize patterns of moral judgments of actions in terms of the causal and intentional properties of those actions. The present study directly compares the roles of consequence, causation, belief and desire in determining moral judgments. Judgments of the wrongness or permissibility of action were found to rely principally on the mental states of an agent, while judgments of blame and punishment are found to rely jointly on mental states and the causal (...) connection of an agent to a harmful consequence. Also, selectively for judgments of punishment and blame, people who attempt but fail to cause harm more are judged more leniently if the harm occurs by independent means than if the harm does not occur at all. An account of these phenomena is proposed that distinguishes two processes of moral judgment: one which begins with harmful consequences and seeks a causally responsible agent, and the other which begins with an action and analyzes the mental states responsible for that action. Ó 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Recent empirical research by Joshua Knobe has uncovered two asymmetries in judgements about intentional action and moral responsibility. First, people are more inclined to say that a side effect was brought about intentionally when they regard that side effect as bad than when they regard it as good. Secondly, people are more inclined to ascribe blame to someone for bad effects than they are inclined to ascribe praise for good effects. These findings suggest that the notion of intentional (...) action has a normative component. I propose a theory of intentional action on which one acts intentionally if one fails to be motivated to avoid a bad effect. This explains the asymmetry concerning intentional action. The praise–blame asymmetry is explained in terms of the claim that praise depends on being appropriately motivated, whereas blame does not. (shrink)
Recent experimental ﬁ ndings by Knobe and others ( Knobe, 2003; Nadelhoffer, 2006b; Nichols and Ulatowski, 2007 ) have been at the center of a controversy about the nature of the folk concept of intentional action. I argue that the signiﬁ cance of these ﬁ ndings has been overstated. My discussion is two-pronged. First, I contend that barring a consensual theory of conceptual competence, the signiﬁ cance of these experimental ﬁ ndings for the nature of the concept of (...) class='Hi'>intentional action cannot be determined. Unfortunately, the lack of progress in the philosophy of concepts casts doubt on whether such a consensual theory will be found. Second, I propose a new, deﬂ ationary interpretation of these experimental ﬁ ndings, ‘ the trade-off hypothesis ’ , and I present several new experimental ﬁ ndings that support this interpretation. (shrink)
Recent empirical research into the folk classification of the outcomes of actions as intentional is usually taken to show that such classification has an irreducibly normative dimension. Various interpretations of the experimental data have in common the claim that whether the side-effect of an action counts as intentional depends on some normative valence of that side-effect.1 This is the way that Joshua Knobe, for example, whose experimental research started this debate, understands the data. Some critics of this view (...) claim the experiments indicate only a bias in the folk application of the concept rather than an aspect of the concept itself. A more radical criticism denies that we should explain the data with reference to the normative valence of the side-effect, claiming instead that whether an effect is classified as intentional depends on its role in the agent’s reasoning. Edouard Machery has advanced a version of this view, although strong evidence has been presented against his position. (shrink)
Studies of normal individuals reveal an asymmetry in the folk concept of intentional action: an action is more likely to be thought of as intentional when it is morally bad than when it is morally good. One interpretation of these results comes from the hypothesis that emotion plays a critical mediating role in the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. According to this hypothesis, the negative emotional response triggered by a morally bad action (...) drives the attribution of intent to the actor, or the judgment that the actor acted intentionally. We test this hypothesis by presenting cases of morally bad and morally good action to seven individuals with deficits in emotional processing resulting from damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC). If normal emotional processing is necessary for the observed asymmetry, then individuals with VMPC lesions should show no asymmetry. Our results provide no support for this hypothesis: like normal individuals, those with VMPC lesions showed the same asymmetry, tending to judge that an action was intentional when it was morally bad but not when it was morally good. Based on this finding, we suggest that normal emotional processing is not responsible for the observed asymmetry of intentional attributions and thus does not mediate the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. (shrink)
Among philosophers, there are at least two prevalent views about the core concept of intentional action. View I (Adams 1986, 1997; McCann 1986) holds that an agent S intentionally does an action A only if S intends to do A. View II (Bratman 1987; Harman 1976; and Mele 1992) holds that there are cases where S intentionally does A without intending to do A, as long as doing A is foreseen and S is willing to accept A as a (...) consequence of S’s action. Joshua Knobe (2003a) presents intriguing data that may be taken to support the second view.1 Knobe’s data show an asymmetry in folk judgements. People are more inclined to judge that S did A intentionally, even when not intended, if A was perceived as causing a harm (e.g. harming the environment). There is an asymmetry because people are not inclined to see S’s action as intentional, when not intended, if A is perceived as causing a beneﬁt (e.g. helping the environment). In this paper we will discuss Knobe’s results in detail. We will raise the question of whether his ordinary language surveys of folk judgments have accessed core concepts of intentional action. We suspect that instead Knobe’s surveys are tapping into pragmatic aspects of intentional language and its role in moral praise and blame. We will suggest alternative surveys that we plan to conduct to get at this difference, and we will attempt to explain the pragmatic usage of intentional language. (shrink)
I. Thanks largely to Joshua Knobe, philosophers now frequently empirically investigate the folk psychological concept of intentional action. Knobe (2003, 2004a, 2004b) argues that application of this concept is often surprisingly sensitive to one’s moral views. In particular, it seems that people are much more willing to regard a bit of behavior as intentional, if they think that the action in question is bad or wrong. There is much controversy about both the design and the interpretation of the (...) experiments Knobe has conducted. One concern is that common use of the word ‘intentionally’ seems to be sensitive to matters other than the concept of intentional action. Perhaps the use of the word ‘intentionally’ is also governed by pragmatic thoughts about blameworthiness—if you think N.N. is to be blamed for ф-ing, then you are more likely to say that N.N. is ф-ing intentionally, apart from whether you really judge that the ф-ing was intentional (Adams and Steadman 2004a). One way to neutralize these concerns is to gauge whether people regard an action as intentional, not by asking them whether they would apply the word ‘intentional’ or its cognates to the action in question, but by seeing whether they treat the action as susceptible to reason explanations. After all, if some act of ф-ing is susceptible to a reason explanation, then the act of ф-ing is intentional. Knobe infers that we can see whether a psychological subject regards some act as intentional by seeing whether the subject is willing to say that the bit of behavior can function appropriately in a reasons explanation. (shrink)
Dennett's intended rapprochement between physical realism and intentional relativism fails because it is premised upon conflicting arguments governing the status of design. Indeed, Dennett's remarks on design serve to highlight tensions buried deep within his theory. For inasmuch as Dennett succeeds in objectifying attributions of design, attributions of intentionality readily follow suit, leading to a form of intentional realism. But inasmuch as Dennett is successful in relativizing attributions of design, scientific realism at large is subject to renewed anti-realistic (...) criticism. Dennettian-inspired considerations of adaptationism substantiate the former move towards intentional realism, while considerations of the relativity of artifactual design encourage the latter move towards physical relativism. The ambivalence intrinsic to Dennett's ``mild realism'' can be viewed as a function of these two conflicting positions on design, for Dennett can no more avoid objectifying intentionality when he is realistic about design than he can avoid relativizing physical causality when relativistic about design. (shrink)
I question Brentano's thesis that all and only mental phenomena are intentional. The common gloss on intentionality in terms of directedness does not justify the claim that intentionality is sufficient for mentality. One response to this problem is to lay down further requirements for intentionality. For example, it may be said that we have intentionality only where we have such phenomena as failure of substitution or existential presupposition. I consider a variety of such requirements for intentionality. I argue they (...) either fail to exclude all non-mental phenomena or are so demanding that they ground new, serious challenges to the claim that qualitative states of mind are intentional. (shrink)
A number of philosophers working under the rubric of “experimental philosophy” have recently begun focusing on analyzing the concepts of ordinary language and investigating the intuitions of laypersons in an empirically informed way.1 In a series of papers these philosophers—who often work in collaboration with psychologists—have presented the results of empirical studies aimed at proving folk intuitions in areas as diverse as ethics, epistemology, free will, and the philosophy of action. In this paper, I contribute to this research program by (...) discussing the results of some new experiments that further probe folk intuitions about the relationship between desire, foresight, intent, intentional action, and moral considerations. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Al Mele (2003) suggests that the Simple View of intentional action is “fiction” because it is “wholly unconstrained” by a widely shared (folk) concept of intentional action. The Simple View (Adams, 1986, McCann, 1986) states that an action is intentional only if intended. As evidence that the Simple View is not in accord with the folk notion of intentional action, Mele appeals to recent surveys of folk judgments by Joshua Knobe (2003, 2004a, (...) 2004b). Knobe’s surveys appear to show that the folk judge unintended but known side effects of actions to be performed intentionally. In this paper we will reject Mele’s suggestion that the Simple View is “fiction.” We will also discuss the relationship between surveys and philosophical theories, and the abilities of surveys to access folk core concepts. We will argue that considerations of both fail to support Mele’s suggestion. (shrink)
Abstract It is widely assumed that the meaning of at least some types of expressions involves more than their reference to objects, and hence that there may be co-referential expressions which differ in meaning. It is also widely assumed that ?syntax does not suffice for semantics?, i.e. that we cannot account for the fact that expressions have semantic properties in purely syntactical or computational terms. The main goal of the paper is to argue against a third related assumption, namely that (...) what is responsible for a difference in meaning between co-referential expressions is the computational difference in the cognitive functioning of the expressions. ?Intentional aspects? of expressions?those features which their meanings involve in addition to reference?cannot be syntacticized, since they are individuated not in terms of any cognitive feature, but rather in terms of those properties of the referents through which the expressions refer to them, and cognitive features cannot determine such properties in exactly the same sense as they cannot determine reference. (shrink)
On the surface, it seems intuitively plausible that if an agent luckily manages to perform a desired action (e.g., rolling a six with a fair die or winning the lottery), the performance of which is not the result of any relevant skill on her part, we should not say that she performed the action intentionally. This intuition suggests that our concept of intentional action is sensitive to considerations of skill, luck, and causal control. Indeed, some philosophers have claimed that (...) in order for an action to be performed intentionally it must be performed with a relevant amount of skill or control - i.e., an intentional action cannot simply be the result of luck. On this view, skill and control are necessary conditions of our everyday concept of intentional action. In this essay, I discuss empirical evidence that challenges this claim. After briefly setting the stage, I examine Al Mele and Paul Moser's thorough analysis of intentional action - paying particular attention to some of the interesting scenarios they offer in support of their position. Next, I discuss the results of some simple psychological experiments that show that people's judgments concerning whether actions are intentional can often be affected by the moral features of these actions - features that may trump considerations of skill, luck, and control. Finally, I conclude that if this is correct, philosophers who claim that skill and control are necessary conditions of the folk concept of intentional action appear to be mistaken. One can test attempted philosophical analyses of intentional action partly by ascertaining whether what these analyses entail about particular actions is in line with what the majority of non-specialists would say about these actions if there is a widely shared concept of intentional action, such judgments provide evidence about what the concept is, and a philosophical analysis of intentional action that is wholly unconstrained by that concept runs the risk of having nothing more than a philosophical fiction as its subject matter. (Mele, 2001, p. 27). (shrink)
We clarify Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics by demonstrating the central role played by his thesis that quantum theory is a rational generalization of classical mechanics. This thesis is essential for an adequate understanding of his insistence on the indispensability of classical concepts, his account of how the quantum formalism gets its meaning, and his belief that hidden variable interpretations are impossible.
In the first section of this paper I argue that the main reason why Daniel Dennett’s Intentional Systems Theory (IST) has been perceived as behaviourist or antirealist is its inability to account for the causal efficacy of the mental. The rest of the paper is devoted to the claim that by emending the theory with a phenomenon called ‘empathic resonance’ (ER), it can account for the various explananda in the mental causation debate. Thus, IST + ER is a much (...) more viable option than IST, even though IST + ER assigns a crucial role to the phenomenology of agency, a role that is incompatible with Dennett’s writings on consciousness. (shrink)
After Brentano, intentionality is often characterized as “the mark of the mental”. In Brentano‟s view, intentionality “is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon manifests anything like it”. 2 After Meinong, it is also generally believed that intentionality, as this characteristic mental phenomenon, concerns a specific type of objects, namely, intentional objects, having intentional inexistence, as opposed to ordinary physical objects, having real existence. Thus, intentional objects are supposed to constitute a mysterious ontological realm, the dwelling (...) place of the objects of dreams and fiction, and other “weird entities”, even inconsistent objects, such as round squares. Finally, it is also generally held that intentionality somehow defies logic, as the well-known phenomena of the breakdown of the substitutivity of identicals, the failure of existential generalization, and generally the strange behavior of quantification in intentional contexts testify. In this paper, I will refer to these positions as the psychological, ontological, and logical “myths of intentionality”, respectively. The reason is that although this important modern notion of intentionality and the positions involving it are supposed to have come from medieval philosophy, medieval philosophers would be starkly opposed to them. On the basis of the relevant doctrines of some medieval philosophers, especially, Aquinas and Buridan, this paper is going to argue that the three positions on intentionality described above are in fact just three modern myths. (shrink)
In this commentary, I discuss the three main articles in this volume that present survey data relevant to a search for something that might merit the label “the folk concept of intentional action” – the articles by Joshua Knobe and Arudra Burra, Bertram Malle, and Thomas Nadelhoffer. My guiding question is this: What shape might we find in an analysis of intentional action that takes at face value the results of all of the relevant surveys about vignettes discussed (...) in these three articles?1 To simplify exposition, I assume that there is something that merits the label I mentioned. (shrink)
How are our actions sorted into those that are intentional and those that are not? The philosophical and psychological literature on this topic is livelier now than ever, and we seek to make a contribution to it here. Our guiding question in this article is easy to state and hard to answer: How do various factors— specifically, features of vignettes—that contribute to majority folk judgments that an action is or is not intentional interact in producing the judgment? In (...) pursuing this question we draw on a number of empirical studies, including some of our own, and we sketch some future studies that would shed light on our topic. We emphasize that the factors that concern us here are limited to features of stories to which subject respond: examples include the value of the action asked about, the agent’s being indifferent to performing that action, and the agent’s seeking to perform it. We do not discuss underlying cognitive or emotional processes here, nor do we discuss whether respondents are making errors of any kind. (Both of these issues are discussed in Cushman and Mele [forthcoming].) 1. THREE KINDS OF ACTION In the present section we draw some distinctions that set the stage for our discussion of empirical results. Our actions have effects, and an agent’s bringing about such an effect is itself an action. For example, unbeknownst to Ann, her unlocking the door to her house frightened an intruder. That is, at least one effect of Ann’s unlocking her door was the intruder’s fright. Her bringing about this effect—that is, her frightening the intruder—is an action. Side-effect actions, as we understand this.. (shrink)
This paper discusses the debate between atomists and molecularists regarding the nature of mental content. A molecularist believes that some, but not all, of a mental symbol's inferential connections to other mental symbols, are at least partly constitutive of that symbol's intentional content. An atomist believes that none of the symbol's inferential connections play such a constitutive role. The paper is divided into two principal parts. First, attempts by Michael Devitt and Georges Rey to defend molecularism against traditional Quinean (...) arguments are evaluated. The conclusion is that their attempts fall short of providing an adequate defense. Second, the prospects for an atomistic theory are investigated, building on the various remarks of Fodor and LePore in their book. Holism: A Shopper's Guide. It is argued that the prospects are better than at first they appear. (shrink)
E. Husserl’s reflections in Logical Investigations on “intentional feelings” and “non-intentional feelings” are significant in both his later ethical explorations and M. Scheler’s thought on ethics. Through the incorporation of the views of Husserl and Scheler, we find that the phenomenology of the intentional feeling-acts is not only the foundation of the non-formal ethics of values in Scheler’s phenomenology, but also at least the constitutive foundation of the ethics of Husserl’s first orientation.