Dennett's overlooked originality

Minds and Machines 16 (1):43-55 (2006)
No philosopher has worked harder than Dan Dennett to set the possibility of machine mentality on firm philosophical footing. Dennett’s defense of this possibility has both a positive and a negative thrust. On the positive side, he has developed an account of mental activity that is tailor-made for the attribution of intentional states to purely mechanical contrivances, while on the negative side, he pillories as mystery mongering and skyhook grasping any attempts to erect barriers to the conception of machine mentality by excavating gulfs to keep us “bona fide” thinkers apart from the rest of creation. While I think he’s “won” the rhetorical tilts with his philosophical adversaries, I worry that Dennett’s negative side sometimes gets the better of him, and that this obscures advances that can be made on the positive side of his program. In this paper, I show that Dennett is much too dismissive of original intentionality in particular, and that this notion can be put to good theoretical use after all. Though deployed to distinguish different grades of mentality, it can (and should) be incorporated into a philosophical account of the mind that is recognizably Dennettian in spirit
Keywords Intentionality  Machine  Mentality  Originality  Science  Dennett, Daniel
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DOI 10.1007/s11023-006-9017-3
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Daniel C. Dennett (1996). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):169-174.

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