What is intentionality? Intentionality is a distinguishing characteristic of states of mind (such as beliefs, thoughts, wishes, dreams, and desires): that they are about things outside themselves. About this book: William Lyons explores various ways in which philosophers have tried to explain intentionality, and then suggests a new way. Part I of the book gives a critical account of the five most comprehensive and prominent
current approaches to intentionality. These approaches can be summarised as the instrumentalist approach, derived from Carnap and Quine and culminating in the work of Daniel Dennett; the linguistic approach, derived from the work of Chomsky and exhibited most fully in the work of Jerry Fodor; the biological
approach, developed by Ruth Garrett Millikan, Colin McGinn, and others; the information-processing approach which has been given a definitive form in the work of Fred Dretske; and the functional role approach of Brian Loar. In Part II, Professor Lyons sets out a multi-level, developmental approach to intentionality. Drawing upon work in neurophysiology and psychology, the author argues that intentionality is to be found, in different forms, at the
levels of brain functioning, prelinguistic consciousness, language, and at the holistic level of `whole person performance' which is demarcated by our ordinary everyday talk about beliefs, desires, hopes, intentions, and the other `propositional attitudes'. Written in a direct, clear, and lively
style, the extended survey of contemporary debate in Part I will be invaluable to the student of philosophy of mind or cognitive science as well as to the scholars and graduate students who will find an original new theory to contend with in Part II.
`an informative book'
Stefaan E. Cuypers, Philosophical Quarterly
`Part I is, inevitably, more successful than the more suggestive second part which attempts a coherent theory of intentionality. The book's strength is its clear, accessible, yet thoughtfully critical portraits not just of the more familiar theories of Dennett and Fodor but also of the less widely known work of Millikan and Loar.'
International Journal of Philosophical Studies
`In Part I ... Lyons critically examines five current theories of intentionality ... Lyons' accounts of these theories range mostly from very good to good ... One shouldn't dismiss Part II of the book, however. Lyons makes some useful observations ... Lyons is a clear writer and a very good summariser. Part I of this book is appropriate for professional philosophers, scholars in other disciplines, graduate students, and undergraduates. Part II is helpful
for those working on theories of intentionality, mainly for the handful of important observations scattered throughout.'
`This ambitious book offers both an introduction to the controversy over intentionality as well as a set of new proposals for approaching the issue. In the first part of the book, Lyons presents a critical history of recent work on intentionality ... This helps make the discussion accessible to a broad audience, and the historical approach provides a useful (if somewhat Procrustean) perspective ... The second part of the book is devoted to Lyons' positive
proposals. Several aspects of this [second part of the] book merit serious consideration.'
Review of Metaphysics
`This ambitious book offers both an introduction to the controversy over intentionality as well as a set of new proposals for approaching the issue.'
Shaun Nichols, College of Charleston, Review of Metaphysics, March '97
Introduction: The Etymology, Definition, Theory, and Problem of Intentionality
PART I: MODERN APPROACHES
1: The Instrumentalist Approach
2: The Return to Representation
3: The Appeal to Teleology
4: The Information-Processing Approach
5: The Purest Functionalism
PART II: A DIFFERENT APPROACH
6: A Brain's-Eye View of Intentionality
7: An Infant's-Eye View of Intentionality
8: An Adult's-Eye View of Intentionality