Critics of wide functionalism have traditionally sought to attack the theory by exposing weaknesses in its account of the qualitative content of experience. Wide functionalist theories of intentionalcontent, however, were spared philosophical scrutiny. I propose that wide functionalist accounts of the intentionalcontent are equally susceptible to attack. I will attempt to demonstrate this by enlisting the functionalist's old foe from the qualia wars - the inverted spectrum hypothesis - in a new way. If (...) the argument is sound, not only will I have shown that the inverted spectrum hypothesis may have more use than philosophical literature recognizes, I will have also exposed a weakness in a dominant philosophical theory: the wide functionalist theory of intentionalcontent. (shrink)
Proponents of phenomenal intentionality share a commitment that, for at least some paradigmatically intentional states, phenomenal character constitutively determines narrow intentionalcontent. If this is correct, then any two states with the same phenomenal character will have the same narrow intentionalcontent. Using a twin-earth style case, I argue that two different people can be in intrinsically identical phenomenological states without sharing narrow intentional contents. After describing and defending the case, I conclude by considering (...) a few objections that help to further illustrate the problem. (shrink)
In this essay I defend meaning holism against certain criticisms that Jerry Fodor has presented against it. In "Psychosemantics" he argued that meaning holism is incompatible with the development of scientific psychology given the ways in which scientific psychology adverts to intentionalcontent. In his recent book "Holism" (co-authored with Ernest Lepore) he indicates that he still upholds this argument. I argue that Fodor's argument fails, and argue in favor of the compatibility of meaning holism with scientific psychology. (...) I also argue positively in favor of meaning holism, arguing in part that, contrary to Fodor's claims, psychofunctionalism provides a strong basis for defending meaning holism. As part of this argument, I contend, contrary to Fodor, that narrow content, as derived from psychofunctionalism, should be construed as semantic. (shrink)
In this adventurous contribution to the project of combining philosophy and biology to understand the mind, Carolyn Price investigates what it means to say that mental states--like thoughts, wishes, and perceptual experiences--are about things in the natural world. Her insight into this deep philosophical problem offers a novel teleological account of intentionalcontent, grounded in and shaped by a carefully constructed theory of functions. Along the way she defends her view from recent objections to teleological theories and indicates (...) how it might be applied to notable problems in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
In her landmark book, Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories (Millikan1984),1 Ruth Garrett Millikan utilizes the idea of a biological function to solve philosophical problems associated with the phenomena of language, thought, and meaning. Language and thought are activities of biological organisms, according to Millikan, and we should treat them as such when trying to answer related philosophical questions. Of special interest is Millikan’s treatment of intentionality. Here Millikan employs the notion of a biological function to explain what it is (...) for one thing in nature, a bee dance (43), for example, to be about another, in this case, the location of a nectar source. My concern in this paper is to understand whether Millikan’s account of intentionality adequately explains how humans achieve reference, in language or thought, to individuals and groups in their environment. In bringing her theory of intentionalcontent to bear on human activities, Millikan focuses largely on natural language. Thus, in what follows, I begin by laying out the biology-based principles that underlie Millikan’s theory of content, then proceed with an explanation of how the theory is to apply to natural language. As it appears, Millikan’s account of how content is determined for natural language terms and sentences rests on the determinacy of intentionalcontent at the psychological level. This leads me to take a careful look at what Millikan says about the content of mental representations, in hopes of finding a sufficient basis there for the application of Millikan’s theory of content to natural language. Ultimately, I conclude that Millikan’s theory faces a problem of vacuity. If we approach the theory as a theory of intentionalcontent, intended to explain the nature of reference, the theory is lacking in an extremely important respect: Millikan explains how it could be one of the biological functions of a mental or natural language term to refer, without telling us precisely what in the natural order constitutes the reference relation.. (shrink)
Edmund Husserl (1859—1938) was an influential thinker of the first half of the twentieth century. His philosophy was heavily influenced by the works of Franz Brentano and Bernard Bolzano, and was also influenced in various ways by interaction with contemporaries such as Alexius Meinong, Kasimir Twardowski, and Gottlob Frege. In his own right, Husserl is considered the founder of twentieth century Phenomenology with influence extending to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and to contemporary continental philosophy generally. (...) Husserl’s philosophy is also being discussed in connection with contemporary research in the cognitive sciences, logic, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind, as well as in discussions of collective intentionality. At the center of Husserl’s philosophical investigations is the notion of the intentionality of consciousness and the related notion of intentionalcontent (what Husserl first called ‘act-matter’ and then the intentional ‘noema’). To say that thought is “intentional” is to say that it is of the nature of thought to be directed toward or about objects. To speak of the “intentionalcontent” of a thought is to speak of the mode or way in which a thought is about an object. Different thoughts present objects in different ways (from different perspectives or under different descriptions) and one way of doing justice to this fact is to speak of these thoughts as having different intentional contents. For Husserl, intentionality includes a wide range of phenomena, from perceptions, judgments, and memories to the experience of other conscious subjects as subjects (inter-subjective experience) and aesthetic experience, just to name a few. Given the pervasive role he takes intentionality to play in all thought and experience, Husserl believes that a systematic theory of intentionality has a role to play in clarifying and founding most other areas of philosophical concern, such as the theory of consciousness, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic, epistemology, and the philosophies of action and value. This article presents the key elements of Husserl’s understanding of intentionality and intentionalcontent, specifically as these are developed in his works Logical Investigations and Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. (shrink)
Book Information Functions in Mind: A Theory of IntentionalContent. Functions in Mind: A Theory of IntentionalContent Carolyn Price Oxford Clarendon Press 2001 vi + 263 Hardback £35 By Carolyn Price. Clarendon Press. Oxford. Pp. vi + 263. Hardback:£35.
One of the main problems of current theory of intentionality concerns the possibility of ahistorical intentionalcontent, that is, content in the absence of any developmental history of the respective item. Biosemanticists like Millikan (1984) argue that content is essentially historical, while computationalists like Cummins (1989) hold that a system's current ahistorical state alone determines content. In the present paper, this problem is discussed in terms of some popular 'cosmic accident' thought experiments, and the conceptual (...) framework of these experiments is enriched by some new versions like accidental 'duplicates' without any preexisting original. As a result of these evaluations, it is argued that for an item to bear intentionalcontent it is necessary to have a 'function' in the forward-looking sense introduced by Bigelow & Pargetter (1987). Since historicity is not necessary for functionality, ahistorical states can be intentional as long as they have functions. This result does not support computationalism, since functionality cannot be determined in terms of current ashistorical state alone, but only with reference to the present and future environmental context of the cognitive system that harbours these states. (shrink)
Strong or Pure Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its Intentionalcontent. Strong or Pure Anti-Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its non-Intentional properties. In Chapters One and Two, I consider how best to delineate the opposition between these positions. I reject various characterizations of the distinction, in particular, that (...) it can be captured in modal terms. Pure Intentionalist and Pure Anti-Intentionalist accounts can in fact share a modal profile. The most fundamental way of distinguishing Intentionalism from Anti-Intentionalism is in terms of the Intentionalist claim that experiences have contents with truth or satisfaction conditions. Characterized in this way, Intentionalism is committed to the claim that perceptual experience exhibits a certain kind of generality in that perceptual experiences essentially present their objects as being certain general ways. In contrast, the anti-Intentionalist denies that talk of seeing objects as certain kinds of object or as particular objects of those kinds provides a characterization of any aspect of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. Anti-Intentionalist theories must, therefore, account for phenomenal character wholly in terms of particularist properties. In Chapters Three and Four, I argue that neither of these pure views of experience can do justice to the phenomenology of our ordinary perceptual encounters with the world. In Chapter Three, I contend that Pure Anti- Intentionalism, at least in the form of Bill Brewer’s Object View, fails to provide a satisfactory account of the phenomenology of aspect shifts and continuous aspect perception. Furthermore, I argue that the Object View’s accounts of perceptual illusion are ill-motivated and fundamentally unsatisfactory. In Chapter Four, I argue that Pure Intentionalism is inconsistent with the phenomenologically evident fact that experiences are durational events which unfold over time. Accordingly, the assumption that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience must be wholly characterized in terms of one kind of property, be it Intentionalist or non-Intentionalist, should be rejected. Any plausible theory of experience must appeal to different kinds of phenomenal property. In Chapter Five, I defend a view which does just this: the Catholic View of experience. The Catholic View claims that the phenomenal character of any mature human experience must be characterized in terms of both particularist and Intentional properties. I conclude by showing how this account avoids the most serious criticisms that have been levelled against the idea of non-representational, or ‘given’ elements in experience. (shrink)
Carolyn Price investigates what it means to say that mental states -- thoughts, wishes, perceptual experiences, and so on -- are about things in the world. Her answer to this deep philosophical problem is a novel teleological account of intentionalcontent, grounded in and shaped by a carefully constructed theory of functions. Price's teleological account centres on the claim that the content of an intentional state depends both on the information that it is supposed to carry (...) and on the way in which it is used -- whether to trigger a simple response, to help keep track of an object or place, to help in planning a route through the environment, or in a sophisticated process of reasoning. Along the way she defends her view from recent objections to teleological theories, and indicates how it might be applied to some notable problems in the philosophy of mind.Functions in Mind is an adventurous comtribution to the project of bringing together philosophy and biology in order to understand the mind as part of the natural world. (shrink)
In this chapter I argue that there is such a barrier created by self-conscious intentional states—conscious intentional states that are about one’s own conscious intentional states. As we will see, however, this result is entirely compatible with a scientific theory of mind, and, in fact, there is an elegant non-reductive framework in which just such a theory may be pursued.
This paper addresses Prinz's naturalistic theory of conceptual content, which he has defended in several works (Prinz, 2000; 2002; 2006). More precisely, I present in detail and critically assess his account of referential content, which he distinguishes from nominal or cognitive content. The paper argues that Prinz's theory faces four important difficulties, which might have significant consequences for his overall empiricist project.
A significant part of perception, especially in visual perception, is characterized by particularity (roughly, the view that in such cases the perceiver is aware of particular objects in the environment). The intuition of particularity, however, can be made precise in at least two ways. One way (proposed by Searle) is consistent with the view that the content of perception is to be thought of as existentially quantified. Another way (the “demonstrative element” view championed by Evans, Campbell and others in (...) diverse ways) is not. This paper reconstructs the argumentative context in which these views are put forward, and, after mentioning some drawbacks of both views, as these have been advanced to date, suggests a new view that may be regarded as a compromise between the contenders. (shrink)
Based on Pacherie’s dynamic theory of intentions, this study investigated how the way an intention is formed and sustained affects action performance and the experience of control during acting. In Experiment 1, task-irrelevant verbal commands were given while participants responded to stimuli in a two-choice reaction time task. The commands referred to an action goal congruent or incongruent with the actor’s current intention, or ordered the initiation or abortion of the action. In Experiment 2, the same commands were given as (...) participants freely chose between two actions. The distractors affected performance in the reactive task only. In both experiments, feelings of control were based on movement parameters as well as perceived matches between distractors and intended actions. These findings suggest that the way an intention is implemented affects how well it can be shielded against external perturbations and how much one feels in control. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall defend Russell's view that Mont Blanc, with all of its snow elds, is a component part" or constituent of what is actually asserted when one utters Mont Blanc is more than 4000 meters high," and of what one believes, when one believes that Mont Blanc is 4000 meters high. I also claim, however, that a proposition that does not have Mont Blanc as a constituent plays an important role in the assertion and the belief that (...) Mont Blanc is more than 4000 meters high. Taken somewhat out of context, the quotes from Frege and Russell express insights that pull in di erent directions in the contemporary philosophy of language. Behind Frege's remark is the insight that reference is not direct but mediated. When we think and talk about things, our thoughts and words are not in direct contact with the things thought about and talked about. The meanings of our words, and the cognitive roles of our ideas, do not in and of themselves determine their reference. They get at objects via some aspects of.. (shrink)
In this paper I examine following Jerry Fodor a distinction between Standard Realism about psychological States and intentional or content realism. I try to assess whether Standard Realism and Intentional Realism can satisfy the following two conditions: condition a The content of psychological states can satisfy a type-token distinction. condition b. The content of psychological states is causally relevant to action.
I argue that the idea that mental states possess a primitive intentionality in virtue of which they are able to represent or ‘intend’ putative particulars derives largely from Brentano‘s misinterpretation of Aristotle and the scholastics, and that without this howler the application of intentionality to phenomenal content would never have gained currency.
This essay argues for internalism in maintaining that there is a sense of “determination” – namely “a selection of one” – according to which phenomenological content determines the object of an experience. The subject may not be able to describe the object in a way which distinguishes it from all other objects, but the object is nevertheless determined by the unity of sense, or noema, which presents it.
The aim of this article is to introduce the work of Leopold Blaustein — philosopher and psychologist, who studied under Kazimierz Twardowski in Lvov and under Husserl in Freiburg im Breisgau. In his short academic career Blaustein developed an original philosophy that drew upon both phenomenology and Twardowski’s analytical approach. One of his main publications concerns Husserl’s early theory of intentional act and object, introduced in Logische Untersuchungen. In the first part of the article I briefly present Blaustein’s biography (...) and some general features of his philosophy. The second part provides an overview of Blaustein’s dissertation concerning Husserl’s early phenomenology. In the third and final part I summarize Blaustein’s research, including the critical remarks of Roman Ingarden. (shrink)
Philosophers debate whether all, some or none of the represcntational content of our sensory experience is conccptual, but the technical term "concept" has different uses. It is commonly linked more or less closely with the notions of judgdment and reasoning, but that leaves open the possibility that these terms share a systematic ambiguity or indeterminacy. Donald Davidson, however, holds an unequivocal and consistent, if paradoxical view that there are strictly speaking no psychological states with representational or intentional (...) class='Hi'>content except the propositional attitudes of language users, since thc source or fundamental bearer of intentionality is the employed sentence. Accordingly he claims that what has content in ordinary sense experience is not sensation, but propositional belief caused, but not justified, by sensation. John McDowell, sharing some ofDavidson's premises,holds a less paradoxical, but (l will argue) equivocal and incoherent view that post-infantile human sensory expcrience must have content in so far as it is what grounds perceptual belief but that this content is itself conceptual or propositional, dependent on language and culture. Reasons are givcn in the present article for rejecting both views, and their common premises. It is argued that perceptual or sensory states have intentionalcontent which is no more conceptual or propositional than the world is. Recognition that perceptual content and conceptual content are, in a certain unsurprising way incommensurable allows for a more realistic understanding of the relationship between Language and the world as we experience it. (shrink)
The consensus in contemporary philosophy of mind is that how a perceptual experience represents the world to be is built into its sensory phenomenology. I defend an opposing view which I call ‘moderate separatism’, that an experience's sensory phenomenology does not determine how it represents the world to be. I argue for moderate separatism by pointing to two ordinary experiences which instantiate the same sensory phenomenology but differ with regard to their intentionalcontent. Two experiences of an object (...) reflected in a mirror can possess the same spatial phenomenology while representing that object to occupy different spatial locations. So, contrary to the current consensus, the representation of spatial location is not fixed by an experience's sensory phenomenology. (shrink)
Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of perceptual representation (...) systems. It is widely agreed that any satisfactory theory of concepts must account for how concepts semantically compose (the compositionality requirement) and explain how their intentionalcontent is determined (the content determination requirement). In this paper, I argue that concept empiricism has serious problems satisfying these two requirements. Therefore, although stored perceptual representations may facilitate some traditionally conceptual tasks, concepts should not be identified with copies of perceptual representations. (shrink)
An argument is offered against three naturalistic theories of intentionalcontent: causal-covariation theories, teleological theories, and certain versions of conceptual role semantics. The strategy involves focusing on a normative problem regarding the practice of associating content expressions (e.g., that-clauses) with internal entities (states, symbol structures, etc.). The problem can be expressed thus: Which content expressions are the right ones to associate with internal entities? I argue, first, that an empirical solution to this problem—what I call the (...) Normative Problem—will follow naturally from a descriptive-explanatory account of the practice of associating content expressions with internal entities; and second, that the empirical solution will be accepted and adopted within cognitive science. Naturalistic theories of content also entail solutions to the Normative Problem, and such theories are shown to be false by showing that their solutions to the Normative Problem are inconsistent with the empirical solution coming out of cognitive science. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, to make intentional actions fully intelligible, we need to posit representations of action the content of which is nonconceptual. I further argue that an analysis of the properties of these nonconceptual representations, and of their relation- ships to action representations at higher levels, sheds light on the limits of intentional control. On the one hand, the capacity to form nonconceptual representations of goal-directed movements underscores the capacity to acquire executable concepts of (...) these movements, thus allowing them to come under intentional control. On the other hand, the degree of autonomy these nonconceptual representations enjoy, and the specific temporal constraints stemming from their role in motor control, set limits on intentional control over action execution. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the extent to which Daniel Dennett’s Intentional Stance Theory fits into the overall proposal for a programme on naturalizing mental content outlined by Daniel Hutto and Glenda Satne in this issue. I argue that in order to fit the proposal, two changes need to be made: the reality of intentional states should not be grounded in the reality of behavioral patterns but in the ascription-independent status of Ur-intentionality that is the at the (...) root of all intentionality, including content-involving intentonality. This is tricky since Ur-intentionality resembles ‘original intentionality’, which is a notion Dennett rejects, and the ascription-dependent status of content-involving intentionality should be kept intact. adopting the intentional stance is possible only as part of socio-cultural practices, which implies that this is an exclusively human capacity. I also argue that both changes to the theory are feasible and should be considered improvements relative to the original position developed by Dennett. (shrink)
Some intentional attitudes (beliefs, fears, desires, etc.) have a common focus in spite of there being no object at that focus. For example, two beliefs may be about the same witch even when there are no witches, different astronomers had beliefs directed at Vulcan, even though there is no such planet. This relation of having a common focus, whether or not there is an actual concrete object at that focus, is called intentional identity. In the first part of (...) this thesis I develop a new theory of intentional identity, the triangulation theory, and argue that it has significant advantages over the extant theories of intentional identity in the literature. Empty attitudes (attitudes that are not, prima facie, about anything that exists) will serve as useful cases for testing theories of intentional identity. -/- In the second part, I put the theory developed in the first part to work. I use triangulation theoretic tools to shed light on other debates about intentional attitudes. Some issues to which intentional identity are relevant are the debate about the content of intentional attitudes, the issue of whether or not we need to appeal to external constraints on the content of intentional attitudes, how we should understand the agreement and disagreement of attitudes, how we should construe communication and how we ought to solve Kripke’s puzzle about belief. The second part of this thesis also motivates a broadly internalist and individualistic approach to the con-tent of intentional attitudes; it turns out that if we take a closer look at the narrowly construed psychological states of agents we find materials that allow us to make sense of phenomena usually associated with externalist constraints on the content of attitudes (such as causal constraints and eligibility constraints) in a new way. (shrink)
We review the current state of play in the game of naturalizing content and analyse reasons why each of the main proposals, when taken in isolation, is unsatisfactory. Our diagnosis is that if there is to be progress two fundamental changes are necessary. First, the point of the game needs to be reconceived in terms of explaining the natural origins of content. Second, the pivotal assumption that intentionality is always and everywhere contentful must be abandoned. Reviving and updating (...) Haugeland’s baseball analogy in the light of these changes, we propose ways of redirecting the efforts of players on each base of his intentionality All-Star team, enabling them to start functioning effectively as a team. Only then is it likely that they will finally get their innings and maybe, just maybe, even win the game. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal intentionality research program, a state’s intentionalcontent is fixed by its phenomenal character. Defenders of this view have little to say about just how this grounding is accomplished. I argue that without a robust account of representation, the research program promises too little. Unfortunately, most of the well-developed accounts of representation – asymmetric dependence, teleosemantics, and the like – ground representation in external relations such as causation. Such accounts are inconsistent with the core of (...) the phenomenal intentionality program. I argue that, however counter-intuitive it may seem, the best prospect for explaining how phenomenal character represents appeals to resemblance. (shrink)
Personal value, i.e., what is valuable for us, has recently been analysed in terms of so-called for-someone’s- sake attitudes. This paper is an attempt to add flesh to the bone of these attitudes that have not yet been properly analysed in the philosophical literature. By employing a distinction between justifiers and identifiers, which corresponds to two roles a property may play in the intentionalcontent of an attitude, two different kinds of for-someone’s- sake attitudes can be identified. Moreover, (...) it is argued that one of these kinds is particularly difficult to include in an analysis of value simpliciter but not in an analysis of value for. (shrink)
: Tim Crane maintains that beliefs cannot be conscious because they persist in the absence of consciousness. Conscious judgments can share their contents with beliefs, and their occurrence can be evidence for what one believes; but they cannot be beliefs, because they don’t persist. I challenge Crane’s premise that belief attributions to the temporarily unconscious are literally true. To say of an unconscious agent that she believes that p is like saying that she sings well. To say she sings well (...) is to say that when she sings, her singing is good. To say that she believes that p is to say that when she consciously considers the content that p she consciously affirms it. I also argue that the phenomenal view of intentionalcontent Crane appears to endorse prima facie commits him to the view, at least controversial, perhaps incoherent, that there is unconscious phenomenology. Keywords : Belief; Consciousness; Unconscious; IntentionalContent; Judgment. Credenze coscienti Riassunto: Tim Crane sostiene che le credenze non possano essere coscienti, dal momento che perdurano anche in assenza di coscienza. I giudizi formulati consapevolmente possono condividere i loro contenuti con le credenze e il loro verificarsi può essere una forma di evidenza a supporto di quanto uno crede. E tuttavia essi non possono essere credenze, dal momento che non perdurano. Nel commento metto in discussione la premessa di Crane secondo cui porre l’attribuzione di credenze su un piano temporaneamente inconscio sia vero in senso letterale. Dire di un agente non cosciente che esso creda che p è come dire che canti bene. Dire che canti bene è dire che quando canta, il suo canto è buono. Dire che crede che p è dire che quando considera consapevolmente il contenuto p costui lo afferma consapevolmente. Inoltre intendo affermare che la visione fenomenica del contenuto intenzionale che Crane sembra abbracciare lo impegni prima facie nei confronti della prospettiva, quantomeno controversa e probabilmente incoerente, secondo cui esisterebbe una dimensione fenomenica inconscia. Parole chiave: Credenza; Coscienza; Inconscio; Contenuto intenzionale; Giudizio. (shrink)
In Sense and Content , Christopher Peacocke points out that two equally-sized trees at different distances from the perceiver are normally represented to be the same size, despite the fact that in a certain sense the nearer tree looks bigger ; he concludes on the basis of this observation that visual experiences possess irreducibly phenomenal properties. This argument has received the most attention of all of Peacocke’s arguments for separatism—the view that the intentional and phenomenal properties of experiences (...) are independent of one another. However, despite its notoriety, the argument is widely misunderstood and underappreciated. I argue that once the structure of the argument is clarified and the replies that have been offered are considered closely, one must conclude that the trees argument is successful. (shrink)
I argue that intentional psychology does not stand in need of vindication by a lower-level implementation theory from cognitive science, in particular the representational theory of mind (RTM), as most famously Jerry Fodor has argued. The stance of the paper is novel in that I claim this holds even if one, in line with Fodor, views intentional psychology as an empirical theory, and its theoretical posits as as real as those of other sciences. I consider four metaphysical arguments (...) for the idea that intentional psychological states, such as beliefs, must be seen as requiring in-the-head mental representations for us to be able to understand their characteristic causal powers and argue that none of them validly generate their desired conclusions. I go on to argue that RTM, or some computational version thereof, is not motivated by appeal to the nature of cognitive science research either. I conclude that intentional psychology, though an empirical theory, is autonomous from details of lower level mechanism in a way that renders RTM unwarranted. (shrink)