Stalnaker and Field on Truth and Intentionality

Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1990)

In a series of publications, Robert Stalnaker and Hartry Field have undertaken a dispute about what is the correct way to explain intentionality naturalistically. Field wishes to assimilate mental intentionality to linguistic intentionality and to explain both kinds of intentionality using Tarskian truth theory plus the causal theory of reference. Stalnaker wishes to subsume mental intentionality under the notion of indication and to explain it on the model of measurement theory, leaving linguistic intentionality to be explained derivatively. I attempt to adjudicate their dispute, paying particular attention to the question whether Tarskian truth theory has a role to play in explaining intentionality naturalistically. ;The first half of the dissertation examines Tarski's theory. I argue that Field and Stalnaker are incorrect when they agree that Tarski's reduction of the notion of truth is defective and I explain Tarski's 'structural' notion of truth. In the second half of the dissertation, I argue that Stalnaker's criticisms of Field mostly do not stand up to scrutiny, but that Field's theory is unsatisfactory nonetheless; I also argue that certain criticisms of Stalnaker do more damage than he thinks. I conclude that neither has solved 'the problem of intentionality', but that Stalnaker is right that truth theory as such will not have a role in the correct solution.
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