David Bourget
University of Western Ontario
Angela Mendelovici
University of Western Ontario
Over the past few decades, the dominant approach to explaining intentionality has been a naturalistic approach, one appealing only to non-mental ingredients condoned by the natural sciences. Karen Neander’s A Mark of the Mental (2017) is the latest installment in the naturalist project, proposing a detailed and systematic theory of intentionality that combines aspects of several naturalistic approaches, invoking causal relations, teleological functions, and relations of second-order similarity. In this paper, we consider the case of perceptual representations of colors, which is a challenging case for Neander’s theory. This case will brings out a general methodological concern with Neander’s and other naturalistic theories: these theories generally rest on the assumption that the mental intentionality we are acquainted with in everyday life—the phenomenon exhibited by desires for cups of coffee, perceptual experiences of dogs playing in yards, and thoughts about the weather—is the very same kind of phenomenon that cognitive science studies under labels such as “mental representation” and, in some cases, “information processing.” This assumption is dubious, as the case of Neander’s theory illustrates.
Keywords color, intentionality, mental representation, teleosemantics, teleological theories of content, naturalizing intentionality
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