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Mental States and Intentionality:

A Review of the Literature


HCRL Technical Report No. 76
March, 1992

ABSTRACT: In this literature survey I will confront the problems of intentionality, mentality and mental states. My overall aim will be to address the problem of what counts as mental life and I will begin this with an examination of what we consider mental states, in their variety, to be. There will be an investigation of the difference between mental and physical acts, and how mental actions, like intentionality, can be expressed using propositional attitudes. There will be a discussion of two distinct hypotheses, one physicalist, and one reductionist. This will be developed into an argument concerning the criteria for the ascription of mental states to systems other than ourselves. I will conclude this survey with a look at the relation between architecture and the capability of a system to exhibit a variety of actions.

Acknowledgement: This work was funded by an Open University Research Studentship, the support of which is gratefully acknowledged. I would like to thank colleagues in the Human Cognition Research Laboratory for comments on previous drafts of this report.