The Role of Valence in Intentionality

Mind and Matter 15 (1):71-90 (2017)
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Functional intentionality is the dominant theory about how mental states come to have the content that they do. Phenomenal intentionality is an increasingly popular alternative to that orthodoxy, claiming that intentionality cannot be functionalized and that nothing is a mental state with intentional content unless it is phenomenally conscious. There is a consensus among defenders of phenomenal intentionality that the kind of phenomenology that is both necessary and sufficient for having a belief that "there is a tree in the quad" is that the agent be consciously aware of the meaning of "tree" and "quad". On this theory, experiences with a valence -- experiences like happiness and sadness, satisfaction and frustration -- are irrelevant to intentionality. This paper challenges that assumption and considers several versions of "valent phenomenal intentionality" according to which a capacity for valent conscious experiences is either a necessary or a sufficient condition for intentionality (or both).

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David Leech Anderson
Illinois State University


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