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Re: [ontolog-forum] Intentionality Best Practices

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2014 00:57:43 -0400
Message-id: <53856CC7.5030505@xxxxxxxxxxx>
William, Ed, John B, and Simon,    (01)

Intentionality is like an elephant.  Everybody latches onto some
part of it and gives a different description.  But all those issues
fall into place when you ask one simple question:  "Why?"    (02)

For any action that any human or animal does, just ask why.
In every case, the answer is the intention.    (03)

> Even in the philosophy of science [in Chicago], which was then
> heavily  Karl Popper oriented, intentionality was a topic, and
> part of the 'death knell for positivism".  I understood positivism
> to be the foundation for the silliness of behaviorism in psychology.    (04)

Yes, I was criticizing the positivists.  Philosophers seldom call
themselves positivists today, but many still call themselves
nominalists -- and many of their views are similar.  I say more
about those issues in http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (05)

> the enterprise modeling world has done a lot of work on capturing
> intention, none of which is notably rigorous.    (06)

That qualification is true of about 80% of the work on any kind of
ontology.  For a large part of the other 20%, it's not clear whether
the rigor is relevant to solving any problem that needs to be solved.    (07)

> I'm still digesting what Brentano had in mind. Further, Dennett
> and others have also weighed in with their own interpretations.    (08)

Suggestion:  When you read whatever they propose as the intention,
check whether it answers the question "Why?"    (09)

> The best practice for intentionality is probably to take an Intentional
> Stance - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_stance    (010)

That leads to the following statement by Daniel Dennett:
> 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.
> —Daniel Dennett, The Intentional Stance, p. 17    (011)

I don't disagree with Dennett.  But I would note that you would get
the same results just by asking "Why?"  Whenever you get a partial
answer, keep asking "Why?"    (012)

In Peirce's terms, intention is an example of Thirdness.  The question
why asks for the third member of a triad:  X does Y for the reason Z.    (013)

John    (014)

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