Intentionality and partial belief

Synthese 191 (7) (2014)
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Suppose we wish to provide a naturalistic account of intentionality. Like several other philosophers, we focus on the intentionality of belief, hoping that we may later supplement our account to accommodate other intentional states like desires and fears. Now suppose that we also take partial beliefs or credences seriously. In cashing out our favoured theory of intentionality, we may for the sake of simplicity talk as if belief is merely binary or all-or-nothing. But we should be able to supplement or modify our account to accommodate credences. I shall argue, however, that it is difficult to do so with respect to certain causal or teleological theories of intentionality-in particular, those advanced by the likes of Stalnaker (Inquiry, 1984) and Millikan (J Philos 86:281–297, 1989). I shall first show that such theories are tailor-made to account for the intentionality of binary beliefs. Then I shall argue that it is hard to extend or supplement such theories to accommodate credences. Finally, I shall offer some natural ways of modifying the theories that involve an appeal to objective probabilities. But unfortunately, such modifications face problems.
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