More than ever, it is in vogue to argue that no norms either play a role in or directly follow from the theory of mental content. In this paper, I present an intuitive theory of intentionality (including a theory of mental content) on which norms are constitutive of the intentional properties of attitude and content in order to show that this trend is misguided. Although this theory of intentionality—the teleological theory of intentional representation—does involve a commitment to representational norms, these norms are not problematic in the way critics have suggested they would be. In particular, these norms do not guide thinking by motivating intentional agents to (intentionally) accord with them; as a result, no obvious vicious regress threatens the theory. In the final section of this paper, I argue that accepting this teleological theory of intentionality need not commit one to thinking that intentionality is the product of natural selection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas