Advertisement

Axiomathes

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 293–308 | Cite as

Much Ado About Nothing: Toward a Structural Realist Theory of Intentionality

  • Majid Davoody BeniEmail author
Original Paper
  • 88 Downloads

Abstract

Building upon Brentano’s (in: McAlister LL (ed) Psychology from an empirical standpoint. Routledge, London, [1874] Brentano 1995) reintroduction of the concept of intentionality to the contemporary philosophy, Tim Crane has famously presented the intentionality as the mark of the mental. Accordingly, the problem of “intentional existence” (or rather “intentional inexistence”) has resurfaced in Crane’s revival of the Brentanoian theme (Crane in The objects of thought, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013; Aspects of psychologism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2014). Here, I revise Crane’s construal of Brentano’s notion of intentional inexistence and reinterpret it in terms of a moderate version of relationalism. My relationalist theory of intentionality is inspired by what goes by the name of Noneliminativist Structural Realism (NSR) in the contemporary philosophy of science. NSR allows for a robust realist interpretation of the role of scientific models. The underlying insight of the paper is that it is best to be realist about the structure of the intentionality, which is the common element of the diverse theories of intentional objects. The Outcome is Structural Realist theory of Intentionality (SRI for short). I argue that SRI is not liable to the notorious objection of the impossibility of relata-less relations. I conclude that SRI fulfils the goal of robust psychological realism more economically and straightforwardly than Crane’s application of the notion of models.

Keywords

Intentionality Relationalism Brentano Structural realism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I benefited from the constructive comments of the anonymous referee of this journal. The debt is gratefully acknowledged.

References

  1. Beni MD (2016) Structural realist account of the self. Synthese 193(12):3727–3740.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1098-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beni MD (2017a) On the thinking brains and tinkering with the scientific models. Axiomathes.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10516-017-9334-6 Google Scholar
  3. Beni MD (2017b) The downward path to epistemic informational structural realism. Acta Anal.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12136-017-0333-4 Google Scholar
  4. Brentano F (1995) In: McAlister LL (ed) Psychology from an empirical standpoint. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Bueno O, French S, Ladyman J (2002) On representing the relationship between the mathematical and the empirical. Philos Sci 69:497–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crane T (1998) Intentionality as the mark of the mental. In: O’Hear A (ed) Contemporary issues in the philosophy of mind, vol 43. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 229–251.  https://doi.org/10.1017/s1358246100004380 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crane T (2013) The objects of thought. Oxford University Press, Oxford.  https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199682744.001.0001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crane T (2014) Aspects of psychologism. Harvard University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crane T (2015) The mental states of persons and their brains. R Inst Philos Suppl 76(2–3):253–270.  https://doi.org/10.1017/s1358246115000053 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dennett DC (1989) The intentional stance. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. Esfeld M, Lam V (2008) Moderate structural realism about space-time. Synthese 160(1):27–46.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-006-9076-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Esfeld M, Lam V (2010) Ontic structural realism as a metaphysics of objects. In: Bokulich A, Bokulich P (eds) Scientific structuralism. Springer, Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 143–159.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9597-8_8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. French S (2014) The structure of the world: metaphysics and representation. Oxford University Press, Oxford.  https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684847.001.0001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. French S, Ladyman J (2003) Remodelling structural realism: quantum physics and the metaphysics of structure. Synthese 136(1):31–56.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024156116636 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. French S, Ladyman J (2011) In defence of ontic structural realism. In Scientific Structuralism 281:25–42.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9597-8_2 Google Scholar
  16. Giere RN (1999) Using models to represent reality. In: Magnani L, Nersessian NJ, Thagard P (eds) Model-based reasoning in scientific discovery. Springer, US, Boston, pp 41–57.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-4813-3_3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Godfrey-Smith P (2006) The strategy of model-based science. Biol Philos 21(5):725–740.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-006-9054-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hasselman F, Seevinck MP, Cox RFA (2010) Caught in the undertow: there is structure beneath the ontic stream. SSRN Electron J.  https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2553223 Google Scholar
  19. Jacob P (2014) Review of Tim Crane’s the objects of thought. Notre Dame Philos Rev. https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-objects-of-thought/
  20. Jellema T, Baker CI, Wicker B, Perrett DI (2000) Neural representation for the perception of the intentionality of actions. Brain Cognit 44(2):280–302.  https://doi.org/10.1006/brcg.2000.1231 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kriegel U (2007) Intentional inexistence and phenomenal intentionality. Philos Perspect 21(1):307–340.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1520-8583.2007.00129.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ladyman J (1998) what is structural realism? Stud Hist Philos Sci Part A 29(3):409–424.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0039-3681(98)80129-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ladyman J (2007) On the identity and diversity of objects in a structure. In: Proceedings of the aristotelian society, supplementary volumes. Oxford University Press, The Aristotelian Society.  https://doi.org/10.2307/20619100
  24. Muller FA (2011) Withering away, weakly. Synthese 180(2):223–233.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9609-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Psillos S (2001) Is structural realism possible? Philos Sci 68(S3):S13–S24.  https://doi.org/10.1086/392894 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Quine WVO (1948) On what there is. Rev Metaphys 2(5): 21–38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20123117?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  27. Schultz J, Imamizu H, Kawato M, Frith CD (2004) Activation of the human superior temporal gyrus during observation of goal attribution by intentional objects. J Cognit Neurosci 16(10):1695–1705.  https://doi.org/10.1162/0898929042947874 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Suppes P (1967) What is a scientific theory? In: Morgenbesser S (ed) Philosophy of science today, Basic Books, New York, pp 55–67. https://www.google.com/_/chrome/newtab?espv=2&ie=UTF-8
  29. Van Fraassen BC (1980) The scientific image. Oxford University Press, Oxford.  https://doi.org/10.1093/0198244274.001.0001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Weisberg M (2007) Who is a modeler? Br J Philos Sci 58(2):207–233.  https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axm011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Worrall J (1989) Structural realism: The best of both worlds? Dialectica 43(1–2):99–124.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-8361.1989.tb00933.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy of Science Group, Department of Management, Science and TechnologyAmirkabir University of TechnologyTehranIran

Personalised recommendations