Should Intentionality Be Naturalized?

In D. Walsh (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press. pp. 43-60 (2001)
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Abstract

One goal of recent philosophy of mind has been to ‘naturalize’ intentionality by showing how a purely physical system could have states that represent or are about items in the world. The project is reductionist in spirit, the aim being to explain intentional relations—to say what they really are—and to do so in terms that do not themselves utilize intentional or semantic concepts. In this vein there are attempts to explain intentional relations in terms of causal relations, informational relations, teleological or functional relations, relations involving abstract similarity or isomorphism, and various combinations thereof. What makes these accounts naturalistic is the presumed objectivity and scientific respectability of the properties appelated to in the explanans. What makes them all reductive is their shared presumption that intentionality can be explained in terms that have a wider application to intentional systems as well as to systems that have no mental properties at all

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