Some mental states seem to be "of" or "about" things, or to "say" something. For example, a thought might represent that grass is green, and a visual experience might represent a blue cup. This is intentionality. The aim of this book is to explain this phenomenon. -/- Once we understand intentionality as a phenomenon to be explained, rather than a posit in a theory explaining something else, we can see that there are glaring empirical and in principle difficulties with currently (...) popular tracking and functional role theories of intentionality, which aim to account for intentionality in terms of tracking relations and functional roles. -/- This book develops an alternative theory, the phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), on which the source of intentionality is none other than phenomenal consciousness, the subjective, felt, or qualitative aspect of mental life. While PIT avoids the problems that plague tracking and functional role theories, it faces its own challenges in accounting for the rich and complex contents of thoughts and the contents of nonconscious states. In responding to these challenges, this book proposes a novel version of PIT, on which all intentionality is phenomenal intentionality, though we in some sense represent many non-phenomenal contents by ascribing them to ourselves. This book further argues that phenomenal consciousness is an intrinsic feature of mental life, resulting in a view that is radically internalistic in spirit: Our phenomenally represented contents are literally in our heads, and any non-phenomenal contents we in some sense represent are expressly targeted by us. (shrink)
This dialogue explores the question of whether intentionality—the “ofness”, “aboutness”, or “directedness” of mental states—is a relation. We explore three views: the Naive View, on which intentionality is a relation to ordinary, everyday objects, facts, and other such items; the Abstract Contents View, on which intentionality is a relation to mind-independent abstract entities that are our contents; and the Aspect View, on which intentionality is a matter of having intentional states with particular (non-relational) aspects that are our contents. We consider (...) the challenges facing these views, which include empirical challenges in accounting for all the contents our intentional states can represent, metaphysical challenges in making sense of how contents can be entertained or otherwise represented by us and how they can play a psychological role in the mental economy, and challenges in making sense of how intentionality connects us to the world—if at all. Along the way, we consider the question of how consciousness is related to intentionality and how this affects one’s choice of views. (shrink)
Philosophers traditionally recognize two main features of mental states: intentionality and phenomenal consciousness. To a first approximation, intentionality is the aboutness of mental states, and phenomenal consciousness is the felt, experiential, qualitative, or "what it's like" aspect of mental states. In the past few decades, these features have been widely assumed to be distinct and independent. But several philosophers have recently challenged this assumption, arguing that intentionality and consciousness are importantly related. This article overviews the key views on the relationship (...) between consciousness and intentionality and describes our favored view, which is a version of the phenomenal intentionality theory, roughly the view that the most fundamental kind of intentionality arises from phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
David Papineau’s _The Metaphysics of Sensory Experience_ is deep, insightful, refreshingly brisk, and very readable. In it, Papineau argues that sensory experiences are intrinsic and non-relational states of subjects; that they do not essentially involve relations to worldly facts, properties, or other items (though they do happen to correlate with worldly items); and that they do not have truth conditions simply in virtue of their conscious (i.e., phenomenal) features. I am in enthusiastic agreement with the picture as described so far. (...) But Papineau also argues that sensory experiences are in no interesting sense essentially representational and that what is responsible for their truth conditions is their correlations with the environment. Here, I disagree. Indeed, I think Papineau does not follow his arguments to their proper conclusions. For if sensory experiences are intrinsic, non-relational, and only contingently correlated with worldly conditions (as Papineau and I agree they are), then the phenomenal features of sensory states are representational in an important sense: they constitute what we think, perceptually experience, or otherwise entertain, making up how things seem to us from a first-person perspective. Because of this, the truth conditions of perceptual experiences cannot be entirely independent of their phenomenal features. They cannot merely be a matter of environmental correlations. If we follow Papineau’s arguments to their proper conclusions, we end up with a view much closer to a version of representationalism that Papineau dismisses, a view he calls “pure phenomenal intentionalism”. (shrink)
It is a live possibility that certain of our experiences reliably misrepresent the world around us. I argue that tracking theories of mental representation have difficulty allowing for this possibility, and that this is a major consideration against them.
Moods and emotions are sometimes thought to be counterexamples to intentionalism, the view that a mental state's phenomenal features are exhausted by its representational features. The problem is that moods and emotions are accompanied by phenomenal experiences that do not seem to be adequately accounted for by any of their plausibly represented contents. This paper develops and defends an intentionalist view of the phenomenal character of moods and emotions on which emotions and some moods represent intentional objects as having sui (...) generis affective properties, which happen to be uninstantiated, and at least some moods represent affective properties not bound to any objects. (shrink)
This paper compares tracking and phenomenal intentionality theories of intentionality with respect to the issue of naturalism. Tracking theories explicitly aim to naturalize intentionality, while phenomenal intentionality theories generally do not. It might seem that considerations of naturalism count in favor of tracking theories. We survey key considerations relevant to this claim, including some motivations for and objections to the two kinds of theories. We conclude by suggesting that naturalistic considerations may in fact support phenomenal intentionality theories over tracking theories.
This paper overviews the current status of debates on tracking representationalism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking features of one's environment in a certain way. We overview the main arguments for the view and the main objections and challenges it faces. We close with a discussion of alternative versions of representationalism that might overcome the shortcomings of tracking representationalism.
Phenomenal intentionality is a kind of intentionality, or aboutness, that is grounded in phenomenal consciousness, the subjective, experiential feature of certain mental states. The phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), is a theory of intentionality according to which there is phenomenal intentionality, and all other kinds of intentionality at least partly derive from it. In recent years, PIT has increasingly been seen as one of the main approaches to intentionality.
Reliable misrepresentation is getting things wrong in the same way all the time. In Mendelovici 2013, I argue that tracking theories of mental representation cannot allow for certain kinds of reliable misrepresentation, and that this is a problem for those views. Artiga 2013 defends teleosemantics from this argument. He agrees with Mendelovici 2013 that teleosemantics cannot account for clean cases of reliable misrepresentation, but argues that this is not a problem for the views. This paper clarifies and improves the argument (...) in Mendelovici 2013 and response to Artiga's arguments. Tracking theories, teleosemantics included, really do need to allow for clean cases of reliable misrepresentation. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This dissertation argues that mental representation is identical to phenomenal consciousness, and everything else that appears to be both mental and a matter of representation is not genuine mental representation, but either in some way derived from mental representation, or a case of non-mental representation.
According to intentionalism, phenomenal properties are identical to, supervenient on, or determined by representational properties. Intentionalism faces a special challenge when it comes to accounting for the phenomenal character of moods. First, it seems that no intentionalist treatment of moods can capture their apparently undirected phenomenology. Second, it seems that even if we can come up with a viable intentionalist account of moods, we would not be able to motivate it in some of the same kinds of ways that intentionalism (...) about other kinds of states can be motivated. In this article, I respond to both challenges: First, I propose a novel intentionalist treatment of moods on which they represent unbound affective properties. Then, I argue that this view is indirectly supported by the same kinds of considerations that directly support intentionalism about other mental states. (shrink)
In The Metaphysics of Sensory Experience, David Papineau offers some metaphysical reasons for rejecting representationalism. This paper overviews these reasons, arguing that while some of his arguments against some versions of representationalism succeed, there are versions of phenomenal intentionalism that escape his criticisms. Still, once we consider some of the contents of perceptual experiences, such as their perspectival contents, it is clear that perceptual experience does not present us with the world as we take it to be. This leads to (...) a rather attenuated form of representationalism, perhaps one that even Papineau could come close to agreeing with. (shrink)
Propositionalism is the view that all intentional states are propositional states, which are states with a propositional content, while objectualism is the view that at least some intentional states are objectual states, which are states with objectual contents, such as objects, properties, and kinds. This paper argues that there are two distinct ways of understanding propositionalism and objectualism: (1) as views about the deep nature of the contents of intentional states, and (2) as views about the superficial character of the (...) contents of intentional states. I argue that we should understand the views in the second way. I also argue that the propositionalism debate is fairly independent from debates over the deep nature of intentionality, and that this has implications for arguments for propositionalism and objectualism from claims about the nature of intentional content. I close with a short discussion of how related points apply to the debate over singular content. (shrink)
Much recent research has sought to uncover the neural basis of moral judgment. However, it has remained unclear whether "moral judgments" are sufficiently homogenous to be studied scientifically as a unified category. We tested this assumption by using fMRI to examine the neural correlates of moral judgments within three moral areas: (physical) harm, dishonesty, and (sexual) disgust. We found that the judgment ofmoral wrongness was subserved by distinct neural systems for each of the different moral areas and that these differences (...) were much more robust than differences in wrongness judgments within a moral area. Dishonest, disgusting, and harmful moral transgression recruited networks of brain regions associated with mentalizing, affective processing, and action understanding, respectively. Dorsal medial pFC was the only region activated by all scenarios judged to be morally wrong in comparison with neutral scenarios. However, this region was also activated by dishonest and harmful scenarios judged not to be morally wrong, suggestive of a domain-general role that is neither peculiar to nor predictive of moral decisions. These results suggest that moral judgment is not a wholly unified faculty in the human brain, but rather, instantiated in dissociable neural systems that are engaged differentially depending on the type of transgression being judged. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are two distinct kinds of senses, immediate senses and reflective senses. Immediate senses are what we are immediately aware of when we are in an intentional mental state, while reflective senses are what we understand of an intentional mental state's (putative) referent upon reflection. I suggest an account of immediate and reflective senses that is based on the phenomenal intentionality theory, a theory of intentionality in terms of phenomenal consciousness. My focus is on the immediate (...) and reflective senses of thoughts and the concepts they involve, but it also applies to other mental instances of intentionality. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences seem to in some sense have singular contents. For example, a perceptual experience of a dog as fluffy seems to represent some particular dog as being fluffy. There are important phenomenological, intuitive, and semantic considerations for thinking that perceptual experiences represent singular contents, but there are also important phenomenological, epistemic, and metaphysical considerations for thinking that they do not. This paper proposes a two-tier picture of the content of singular perceptual experiences that is based on phenomenal intentionality theories (...) of intentionality combined with self-ascriptivism about derived representation, a combination of views that allows mental states to have two types of contents: phenomenal contents and derived contents. On the proposed picture, singular perceptual experiences represent singular phenomenal contents, which do not involve worldly objects, as well as singular derived contents, which do involve worldly objects. This picture accommodates and reconciles the considerations for and against thinking that perceptual experiences have singular contents. (shrink)
Moods are sometimes thought to be counter-examples to intentionalism, the view that a mental state’s phenomenal features are exhausted by its representational features. The problem is that moods are accompanied by phenomenal experiences that do not seem to be adequately accounted for by any of their plausibly represented contents. This paper develops and defends an intentionalist view of the phenomenal character of moods on which moods represent intentional objects as having sui generis affective properties that are not bound to any (...) objects. (shrink)
This chapter argues that olfactory experiences represent either everyday objects or ad hoc olfactory objects as having primitive olfactory properties, which happen to be uninstantiated. On this picture, olfactory experiences reliably misrepresent: they falsely represent everyday objects or ad hoc objects as having properties they do not have, and they misrepresent in the same way on multiple occasions. One might worry that this view is incompatible with the plausible claim that olfactory experiences at least sometimes justify true beliefs about the (...) world. This chapter argues that there is no such incompatibility. Since olfactory experiences reliably misrepresent, they can lead to true and justified beliefs about putatively smelly objects. (shrink)
The most pressing worry for panpsychism is arguably the combination problem, the problem of intelligibly explaining how the experiences of microphysical entities combine to form the experiences of macrophysical entities such as ourselves. This chapter argues that the combination problem is similar in kind to other problems of mental combination that are problems for everyone: the problem of phenomenal unity, the problem of mental structure, and the problem of new quality spaces. The ubiquity of combination problems suggests the ignorance hypothesis, (...) the hypothesis that we are ignorant of certain key facts about mental combination, which allows the panpsychist to avoid certain objections based on the combination problem. (shrink)
In their monograph Narrow Content, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne argue that all versions of internalism about mental content are either false or "pointless" (roughly, of no interest). We overview Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne's main line of argument and suggest that, while largely correct, it does not touch the core internalist claim that mental states have internally determined contents. Instead of engaging with this claim, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne attack a variety of stronger or weaker claims. The stronger claims fall prey to the Mirror (...) Man argument and other considerations. The weaker claims fall prey to the charge of pointlessness. But the core internalist view is left untouched. (shrink)
According to Lynne Rudder Baker’s Practical Realism, we know that we have beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes independent of any scientific investigation. Propositional attitudes are an indispensable part of our everyday conception of the world and not in need of scientific validation. This paper asks what is the nature of the attitudes such that we may know them so well from a commonsense perspective. I argue for a self-ascriptivist view, on which we have propositional attitudes in virtue of ascribing (...) them to ourselves. On this view, propositional attitudes are derived representational states, deriving their contents and their attitude types from our self-ascriptions. (shrink)
Abstract In slogan form, the thesis of this paper is that beliefs are self-verifying fictions: We make them up, but in so doing, they come to exist, and so the fiction of belief is in fact true. This picture of belief emerges from a combination of three independently motivated views: (1) a phenomenal intentionalist picture of intentionality, on which phenomenal consciousness is the basis of intentionality; (2) what I will call a “self-ascriptivist” picture of derived representation, on which non-fundamental representational (...) features are a matter of our ascribing contents to ourselves or our mental states or contents; and (3) a representationalist picture of the attitudes, on which the attitude components of mental states (e.g., the “belief” bit of a belief that P) are represented contents. This paper outlines and motivates the view of beliefs as self-verifying fictions, compares the view to alternative views of belief, and contrasts beliefs on the resulting picture to other belief-like mental states. (shrink)
Philip Woodward's review of The Phenomenal Basis of Intentionality (PBI) raises objections to the specific version of the phenomenal intentionality theory proposed in PBI, especially to identity PIT, representationalism, the picture of derived mental representation, some tentative proposals regarding intentional structure, and the matching theory of truth and reference. In this reply, I argue that the version of PIT defended in PBI can withstand these objections.
We distinguish between different problems of “aboutness”: the “hard” problem of explaining the everyday phenomenon of intentionality and three less challenging “easy” sets of problems concerning the posits of folk psychology, the notions of representation invoked in the mind‐brain sciences, and the intensionality (with an “s”) of mental language. The problem of intentionality is especially hard in that, as is the case with the hard problem of phenomenal consciousness, there is no clear path to a solution using current methods. We (...) argue that naturalistic theories of mental representation do not address the hard problem—either they are only intended to address the easy problems, or the claims they make help address the problem of intentionality only under undefended and prima facie implausible assumptions to the effect that the hard problem reduces to some combination of the easy problems. We offer a positive account of what would be required to properly face up to the problem of intentionality. (shrink)
Karen Neander's A Mark of the Mental is a noteworthy and novel contribution to the long-running project of naturalizing intentionality. The aim of the book is to “solve the part of Brentano’s problem that is within reach” (3). Brentano's problem is the problem of explaining intentionality; the part of this problem that is supposedly within reach is that of explaining nonconceptual sensory-perceptual intentionality; and Neander aims to solve it via an informational teleosemantic theory. In this review, we provide a chapter-by-chapter (...) summary followed by some discussion. We argue that Neander's theory yields incorrect predictions in some cases, that the methodological argument for informational teleosemantics does not succeed, and that it is not clear that the book makes contact with its initial target, the everyday phenomenon of intentionality. (shrink)
On explanationist accounts of genealogical debunking, roughly, a belief is debunked when its explanation is not suitably related to its content. We argue that explanationism cannot accommodate cases in which beliefs are explained by factors unrelated to their contents but are nonetheless independently justified. Justification-specific versions of explanationism face an iteration of the problem. The best account of debunking is a probabilistic account according to which subject S’s justification J for their belief that P is debunked when S learns that (...) J is no more likely to be true on the hypothesis that P than on the hypothesis that ¬P. The probabilistic criterion is fully general, applying not only to cases where the learned undercutting defeater is a proposition about our beliefs or other mental states but to any case of undercutting defeat, providing the grounds for a debunking argument against the existence of a special, metacognitive debunking principle. (shrink)
In Brentano’s Philosophical System: Mind, Being, Value, Uriah Kriegel argues that Brentano’s work forms a “live philosophical program” (p. 14, italics omitted) that contemporary philosophy has much to learn from and that is promising and largely correct. To this end, Kriegel argues that Brentano’s notion of consciousness is the contemporary notion of phenomenal consciousness, that Brentano’s rejection of unconscious mentality is a grave mistake that can be fairly neatly excised from his overall view, and that Brentano’s notion of intentionality is (...) the contemporary notion of phenomenal intentionality. This paper raises some doubts about these claims, suggesting that Brentano’s notion of consciousness might more closely align with the contemporary notion of transitive consciousness than with that of phenomenal consciousness, that Brentano’s rejection of unconscious mentality cannot be so easily excised from his overall view but that it is not such a grave mistake, and that Brentano’s notion of intentionality may not be that of phenomenal intentionality but rather that of generic abountness. I wrap up by considering the extent to which we might agree with Kriegel that Brentano’s work forms a live philosophical program that contemporary philosophy has much to learn from. (shrink)