“Intentionality and Real Patterns: An analysis of Dennett’s perspective in relation to some empirical evidence from cognitive sciences”
The broad goal of this paper is to show a specific example of how empirical sciences and philosophy can enrich their respective fields by approaching the common topics jointly. Specifically, I will analyse Daniel Dennett’s ontological perspective about intentional states and confront it with some salient empirical data provided by Baron-Cohen’s recent experiments. First, I will present Dennett’s account of intentionality, according to which intentional states can be understood as patterns of the human behaviour, and his description of Folk Psychology in terms of the perspective from which these patterns can be tracked. Secondly, I will confront Dennett´s perspective with Baron-Cohen’s two-factor theory of autisms: the “empathizing–systemising” (E-S) theory (2009; 2011). This new theory explains the areas of strength autism syndrome by reference to intact or even superior skill in systemising. According to the author, systemising consists in identifying the patterns and the rules that govern the system in order to make predictions about its behaviour. Finally, and taking into account some of the most relevant experiments that support the Baron-Cohen’s (E-S) theory, I will develop some arguments in order to point out the inconsistencies that arise between Dennett’s approach and the results of Baron-Cohen’s experiments. Despite this criticism of the Dennett’s position that I suggest here, I will consider some aspects under which intentionality can be conceived in relation to patterns and the tracking of them.