Minds, models and mechanisms: a new perspective on intentional psychology

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In this article, I argue that intentional psychology (i.e. the interpretation of human behaviour in terms of intentional states and propositional attitudes) plays an essential role in the sciences of the mind. However, this role is not one of identifying scientifically respectable states of the world. Rather, I argue that intentional psychology acts as a type of phenomenological model, as opposed to a mechanistic one. I demonstrate that, like other phenomenological models in science, intentional psychology is a methodological tool with its own benefits and insights that complements our mechanistic understanding of systems. As a result, intentional psychology's distinctive scientific benefit is its ability to model systems in unique, non-mechanistic, ways. This allows us to generate predictions that we cannot otherwise generate using the mechanistic models of neuroscience and cognitive psychology necessary for various scientific tasks.
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