Intentionality and Our Fashionable Philosophies

Bibliographic information:

Smith, R. Scott. “Intentionality and Our Fashionable Philosophies.” Philosophia Christi 12.2 (2010): 319-334.



Many understand intentionality as the ofness or aboutness of mental states yet disagree about it metaphysically. I will argue that (1) intentionality seems best understood as an abstract universal; (2) it is needed to have factual knowledge of reality, yet (3) metaphysical treatments (or uses) of intentionality by several fashionable philosophies land us in constructivism.

I will focus on Daniel Dennett’s treatment of intentionality and then extend my findings to other naturalist and physicalist views, postmodern epistemologies, and nominalism. I also will sketch show how we use intentionality to know reality before suggesting an implication for epistemic externalism.


Evangelical Philosophical Society (website:

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