Is Searle an Internalist?

Philosophical Writings 35 (2) (2007)
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Abstract

We can trace two components in Searle’s overall theory of intentionality: his internalist account of intentional states and his invocation of ‘the Background’. There is a tension between these two components analogous to the tension that exists between Husserl’s and Heidegger’s views on intentionality. Searle, however, does not think that his talk of non-intentional background skills and capacities opposes Heidegger’s and Husserl’s internalist approaches. He attempts to make this point particularly in terms of the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment. This attempt, I argue, is not a promising one, which must lead us to question Searle’s labelling of himself as an internalist

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