Dennett Daniel Dennett Is an American Professor Term Paper

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Daniel Dennett is an American professor of philosophy, and a renowned writer. His research in the field of philosophy largely revolves around the philosophy of the mind and philosophy of science. Daniel Dennett coined in the term of "Intentional System" to describe the mental properties of something with regard to their intentional behavior towards a system.

Dennett described the workings of the mind in the following words, in his book, the Intentional Stance; "Here is how it works: first you decide to treat the object whose behavior is to be predicted as a rational agent; then you figure out what beliefs that agent ought to have, given its place in the world and its purpose. Then you figure out what desires it ought to have, on the same considerations, and finally you predict that this rational agent will act to further its goals in the light of its beliefs. A little practical reasoning from the chosen set of beliefs and desires will in most instances yield a decision about what the agent ought to do; that is what you predict the agent will do." (Dennett, 1989). In layman's terms, Intentional Systems theory interprets the behaviors of things, be it human, animal or any other artificial intelligence item, by treating it as though it is a rational agent, i.e., it has a sound mind of its own with which it can make the choice of performing an action or not, based on its beliefs and other desires.

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Hence, the theory can be used to analyze the meaning of phrases such as "intend," "desire," "believe," "decide," etc. And to interpret the behavior of not only humans but also animals, as well as artificial intelligence, such as computers in their context. Although, the question here shall arise of whether is it safe to assume that certain things have a mind of their own, such as computers, and the conditions under which they can be said to use that mind with regard to its intentions, desires, believes etc. but, in light of the Intentional Systems theory, this can easily be evaluated.

Section Two

Term Paper on Dennett Daniel Dennett Is an American Professor Assignment

Dennett's Intentional System's theory has an element of folk psychology added to the psychology of the mind, which is comfort zone and usual area of work. Folk psychology, also often called commonsense psychology or belief-desire psychology, consists of not only the theory of mind (the term that describes the ability of a human being or an animal to have intentional and representational states in which they understand, know, believe and desire etc., and also have an understanding and knowledge of the beliefs and desires of others), but also emotions, empirical generalizations about behavior of entities, and other qualitative states and traits that an agent is bound to posses. Dennett's Intentional Systems theory takes folk psychology and theory of the mind to construct an abstract what these intentional states really are, and on how to predict the behaviors when an entity is in one.

The terms of belief and desire in the Intentional Systems Theory have been borrowed from folk psychology but have been given a technical twist. According to Dennett, desires and beliefs possess the nature of logical constructs, thus having physical existence. However, they are not reducible to any specific brain-states. Desires and beliefs cannot exist in isolation, and new desires and beliefs stem from the previous desire-belief profile of the agent.

Section Three

The methodological problem that Dennett mentions in his theory refers to the methods employed to achieve success in predicting and evaluating the behavior of an entity. The methods employed to understand the consciousness of the mind such as idealism, the intentional stance can be used. Idealism suggests that the material world is nothing but a coherent dream shared by all individuals. Dennett argues this with the intentional stance that there is a middle ground that can be reached between realism and instrumentalism to provide grounds on the consciousness of the mind. He argues using the intentional stance that the mind and the conscious self is a being that is as real as a center of gravity but is operationally valid. Dennett is the great demystifier of consciousness. According to him there is, in the final analysis, nothing fundamentally inexplicable about the way we attribute intentions and conscious feelings to people. We often attribute feelings or intentions metaphorically to non-human things, after all. We might say our car is a bit tired today, or that our pot plant is thirsty. At the end of the day, our attitude to other human beings is just a version - a much more sophisticated version - of the same strategy. Attributing intentions to human animals makes it much easier to work out what their behavior is likely to be.

Section Four

There are varying levels of abstraction involved in the Intentional Systems Theory. While predicting the behavior of systems, we can use the context of any of these levels. One of the levels is the physical stance. This is concerned with the physics and chemistry of the system and its environment. Other scientific forces such as mass, speed, energy and chemical composition will also be taken into account during the prediction. For example, the speed with which an object will fall down will be based upon its mass and the pull of gravity on it. Another is the design stance which is slightly more abstract on its evaluation as it concerns variables such as the purpose, design and function of a system or a part of that system. And the most abstract of all, the intentional stance, which involves the minds and artificial intelligence. This level is mainly concern with the belief and intent of the system, and that its action shall be based on these variables alone.

Section Five

It is seen from Dennett's statements that he supports the notion that the explanation about the human nature and behavior can be predicted using the intentional stance. However, he later contradicts this statement in a different chapter that the existence of perfect rational systems is not possible, which also includes the human beings. In the second statement, Daniel Dennett flatly rejects the notion of the psychological term 'qualia'. This term is used in psychology to refer to subjective instances and of those of the conscious experience that the humans have. Therefore, 'qualia' supports the fact that materialism exists and thus, the experiences we as human beings have are in fact partly responsible for the beliefs and desires we grow within ourselves. However, Dennett has written that 'qualia' is 'an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us'. Therefore, this statement presents the fact that Dennett is of the view that does not accept the existence of 'qualia' and thus, denying the notion of materialism. This concludes the fact that, although he supported the intentional stance in explain and predicting the human behavior and thereby accepting its materialism in a manner, Dennett is an eliminative materialist denying the existence of beliefs and desires of the human beings.

The existence of the ontological problem has persisted throughout the physiological studies. This problem states that the existence of us as humans, other living things and the surroundings is not real and is rather a simulation projected to us by the conscience. This problem presents the notion that whatever we experience around us is a part of a dream. Dennett, on the other hand, has presented the idea of the intentional stance for the level of abstraction in which the behavior of an object is viewed in terms of mental properties. One of these levels explained by Dennett is the concrete existence of the physical stance which incorporates the region of physics and chemistry. From his focus on the intentional stance,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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