Acta Analytica

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 397–417 | Cite as

Physical Intentionality, Extrinsicness, and the Direction of Causation

  • William A. Bauer


The Physical Intentionality Thesis claims that dispositions share the marks of psychological intentionality; therefore, intentionality is not exclusively a mental phenomenon. Beyond the standard five marks, Alexander Bird introduces two additional marks of intentionality that he argues dispositions do not satisfy: first, thoughts are extrinsic; second, the direction of causation is that objects cause thoughts, not vice versa. In response, this paper identifies two relevant conceptions of extrinsicness, arguing that dispositions show deep parallels to thoughts on both conceptions. Then, it shows that Bird’s discussion of direction of causation overlooks complexities of dispositionality and intentionality that problematize apparent differences between thoughts and dispositions. The paper ends with a discussion of why we find these parallels between thoughts and dispositions.


Intentionality Physical intentionality Dispositions Extrinsicness Grounding Direction of causation 



Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for extremely helpful, detailed comments and suggestions concerning multiple aspects of this paper. Thanks also to participants at a meeting of the Alabama Philosophical Society (October 2, 2015) for discussion of ideas in section 4.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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