chapter  10
27 Pages

Naturalism and Intentionality


What are the prospects for an account of intentionality that is consistent with the tenets of philosophical naturalism? In this chapter, I take the conclusions of two fellow contributors to this volume who appear to disagree over the answer to that question in order to isolate a crucial false dichotomy. Once that false dichotomy is brought to the fore, the way is cleared for an approach to the study of intentionality that is properly informed by evolutionary biology. Alongside advocating an emphasis on the biological basis of the capacity for mental representation, I will challenge two long-standing assumptions about the products of that capacity. First, I challenge the view that there is a meaningful distinction between original and derived intentionality. Then I go on to criticize the pervasive tendency to take cognitive states like belief as the paradigms of intentional states and the related assumption that, insofar as there are other intentional states, they will be representational in pretty much the same way that beliefs are intentional. 1 So my approach involves both a reconceiving of the nature of intentionality and a focus on its biological underpinnings.