Realism Without Literalism
This chapter argues that Dennettian stances, including the intentional stance, should be understood as collections of embodied strategies for coping with objects and coordinating with others. A stance is a way of readying your body for action and worldly engagement. The entities that show up from within a stance are loci of norm-governed behavior, resistance, and explanatory power. But there is no separate question to be asked as to whether these entities are literally real. The notion of the literally real only gets a grip from within a specific stance—one that I dub the “interpretive stance.” Outside the interpretive stance, questions about the reality of intrastance entities generally deflate to practical questions about the success of various coping strategies. By these standards, beliefs and desires and intentional systems are straightforwardly real. But there is no extrastance perspective from which to assess the correctness of a stance.
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