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Approaches to Intentionality$
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William Lyons

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198752226

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198752226.001.0001

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The Appeal to Teleology

The Appeal to Teleology

(p.75) 3 The Appeal to Teleology
Approaches to Intentionality

William Lyons

Oxford University Press

This chapter starts by discussing Ruth Gerrett Millikan's views on psychology as biology in her book Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories, where she demonstrates that intentionality is an objective natural feature of humans, and not a subjective Cartesian or Brentanian one. She argues that biology is the firm foundation for human knowledge and introduces a concept called ‘biosemantics’ that maps the meaning of a word. In his book Mental Content, Colin McGinn extends and defends the teleological-cum-biological account of intentionality elaborated by Millikan. He proposes that a teleological account of beliefs or desires can be expressed as a variety of a more general viewpoint about mental states, called ‘externalism’. The rest of the chapter examines the objections against the teleological theory of intentionality, particularly those of Jerry Fodor.

Keywords:   Millikan, intentionality, biosemantics, Mental Content, Fodor, McGinn, externalism, psychology as biology

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