Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 26, number 76-77, abril/agosto 1994
Una posición intermedia entre el fisicalismo y el intencionalismo: Dennett
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Salma Saab
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

salma@servidor.unam.mx

Abstract: This article assesses Dennett’s position with respect to mental states, intermediate between the extremes of physicalism and intentionalism. Dennett concentrates most of his theses with respect to our atribution of mental states to others, or to other systems, on what he calls the intentional stance. One of his main claims is that, ontologically speaking, mental states as such do not exist but that nevertheless they do have some sort of reality. The elimination of mental entities as “abstracta”. These “abstracta” play an important role in our explanation of what people do and of the way in which certain systems are designed.

Dennett assumes the correctness of Quine’s indeterminacy thesis of translation, which leads Quine to reject the existence of facts of the matter on the one hand and to admit the pragmatic value of certain non-physical explanations on the other. In the article, an attempt is made to clarify Quine’s thesis and the way in which Dennett’s use of the indeterminacy thesis differs from Davidson’s.

It is suggested that one can make certain analogies between Dennett’s proposal and Wittgenstein’s use of the term “seeing as”. The analogy with “seeing as” has the advantage of preserving Dennett’s main claims, while eliminating the use for “abstracta”, thus avoiding the discomfort that some philosophers have felt with regard to “abstracta”. The identification of characteristics common to mental discourse and “seeing as” allows the author to make sense of the claim that there are certain aspects of things or of situations, such as patterns, which while they properly belong to the things or situations themselves, nevertheless depend for their recognition on the skills of the observer.
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