Daniel Dennett's Ideas And Presuppositions Essay

663 words - 3 pages

Daniel Dennett's Ideas and Presuppositions


In response to problems surrounding the ascription of beliefs, Daniel Dennett developed his essay True Believers, where he outlined an intentionalist theory. My intent in this paper is to explain his ideas and defend on of his presuppositions, namely, that most of what people believe is true. First I will briefly explain intentionalism and point out why Dennett feels that his syst3em is so useful. Then I will explain the necessary pretension that most beliefs ascribed are true and explain the validity of that position in greater detail. With a more concise explanation it will then become clear that Dennett’s position is not as implausible as it may seem.

With both Identity and Functionalist theories in the mainstream, Dennett attempts to provide a better explanation of the mid- one which is neither too rigid nor too broad. Dennett’s method involves two main parts, the first being attribution of particular beliefs X would have in its given situation. The possible attributed beliefs are notably quite a bit greater in volume than the somewhat fleeing metaphysical or cosmological ones, which immediately spring to mind. Not only do these beliefs include every minor detail our X may have stored in memory, but also every desire they may have, such as the desire to eat if they are hungry (founded upon the desire to satisfy their hunger and the belief that eating will ease that desire). Secondly, it must be assumed that our subject is what Dennett calls a ‘rational agent’. Meaning, simply that X will act upon some internal connection between its beliefs and desires. That faculty of reason does not need be as developed as in the Vulcan sense, but must show some connection between beliefs and desires along the lines of desires based on beliefs and action based on desires. Moreover, one could not begin to try and predict the...

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