A structuralist theory of phenomenal intentionality

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This paper argues for a theory of phenomenal intentionality (herein referred to as ‘Structuralism’), according to which perceptual experiences only possess intentional content when their phenomenal components are appropriately related to one another. This paper responds to the objections (i) that Structuralism cannot explain why some experiences have content while others do not, or (ii) why contentful experiences have the specific contents that they have. Against (i), I argue that to possess content, an experience must present itself as an experience of something distinct from itself, and that only experiences whose components are suitably structured satisfy this requirement. Against (ii), I argue that Structuralists can provide a deeper explanation of perceptual content than other theories of phenomenal intentionality by showing how the content-determining relations among our experiences depend on the selection pressures under which our perceptual systems developed.

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Ben White
Oakland University

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