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Intentional Objects

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The idea of an intentional object, or an object of thought, gives rise to a dilemma for theories of intentionality. Either intentional objects are existing objects, in which case it is impossible, contrary to appearances, to think about something which does not exist. Or some intentional objects are non-existent real objects. But this requires an obscure and implausible metaphysics. I argue that the way out of this dilemma is to deny that being an intentional object is being an entity of any kind. ‘Object’ here does not mean thing or entity. Rather, to say that something is an intentional object is just to say that it is an object of thought (or other intentional state or act) for a subject. It is further argued that theories of intentionality should not dispense with the idea of an intentional object.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2001


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