In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Information and Computing. Blackwell (2002)
Mental states differ from most other entities in the world in having semantic or intentional properties: they have meanings, they are about other things, they have satisfaction- or truth-conditions, they have representational content. Mental states are not the only entities that have intentional properties - so do linguistic expressions, some paintings, and so on; but many follow Grice, 1957 ] in supposing that we could understand the intentional properties of these other entities as derived from the intentional properties of mental states. Of course, accepting this supposition leaves us with a puzzle about how the non-derivative bearers of intentional properties could have these properties. In particular, intentional properties seem to some to be especially difficult to reconcile with a robust commitment to ontological naturalism - the view that the natural properties, events, and individuals are the only properties, events, and individuals that exist. Fodor puts this intuition nicely in this oft-quoted passage: " I suppose that sooner or later the physicists will complete the catalogue they've been compiling of the ultimate and irreducible properties of things. When they do, the likes of _spin_, _charm_, and _charge_ will perhaps appear upon their list. But _aboutness_ surely won't; intentionality simply doesn't go that deep.... If aboutness is real, it must be really something else. " Some philosophers have reacted to this clash by giving up one of the two views generating the tension. For example, Churchland, 1981 ] opts for intentional irrealism in order to save ontological naturalism, while
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