Monday, December 24, 2007

Menuge's argument for the claim that our intentionality is designed

Angus Menuge suggests the following argument in support of the claim that our intentionality is the result of a prior intentionality:

1. If something has a purpose, then it is designed.

2. Intentinality has the purpose of guiding behavior.

3. So intentionality is designed. (1 and 2)

4. But clearly, our intentionality was not designed by us, although it does enable us to convey our own designs.

5. Thus, our intentionality is the result of prior design. (3 and 4)

6. But…if something is designed, then it is the product of intentionality.

7. So, if our intentionality is the product of prior intentionality.

If this argument is correct, then intentionality can be grounds for thinking that our intentionality is the product of a prior intentionality.



At 12/24/2007 10:27:00 PM , Blogger exapologist said...

Hmmm. Doesn't the argument prove too much? For presumably God's intentionality characterizing God's mental states guide *his* behavior, in which case we can run the argument on God and conclude that God's intentionality is designed.

On the other hand, if we deny this for God, then premise (1) goes false, and the argument is unsound.

At 12/25/2007 01:08:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

He'd need to define purpose, and establish that intentionality has the purpose (in the defined sense) of guiding behavior. Premises 1 and 2 hang on doing these things.

As it stands, I say the heart has a purpose: to pump blood. This doesn't imply there is a designer. So what sense of purpose is he using that excludes your garden-variety purpose-claims in biology (though it is usually described as functions).

At 12/25/2007 11:32:00 AM , Blogger properly basic said...

Merry Christmas, to the biggest baddest Doc, Vic Reppert AND the rest of you fine Metaphysicians!

Loving the material,


At 12/25/2007 01:36:00 PM , Blogger Darek Barefoot said...

I don't have a comment about the virtues or faults of Menuge's argument.

However, I am intrigued by the concept of design itself. By what objective, scientific criteria do we say that something, including any human product, is "designed"? I doubt there are any, the speculations of ID theorists notwithstanding. Is a beehive designed? A bird's nest? All hives and nests have similarities, but each individual structure is adapted to its surroundings; no two hives or nests are exactly alike. Ditto human habitations. Any proposed difference in the adaptabilty of human versus animal habitations is arbitrary, a matter of degree only. Same for tools.

I think design must entail some advance conception of the thing being made, a mental "picture" or representation of the as-yet-unrealized artifact. But this is no objective, scientific criterion, even potentially. It is accessed purely through introspection.

Naturalistically, "design" is an altogether empty concept--an illusion. But I think there is a major coherence problem in claiming that there is no such thing as "design." Design parallels reason in that respect.

At 12/26/2007 06:22:00 AM , Blogger Doctor Logic said...

I agree with BDK, Menuge's argument is as fuzzy as they come.


Here's my definition of design:

An entity has control over a configuration that will have different outcomes. The entity can simulate and predict these outcomes to some degree of precision. The entity has a preference for one or more of the outcomes. The entity chooses to impose the configuration that satisfies its preference for an outcome.

By this definition, evolution does not commit design because evolution does not simulate or predict the outcome of any step. It takes many steps, and discards the ones that are least fit. (Interestingly, this is what humans do when they are "inventing" in new territory, but humans are more systematics and are less likely to try the same thing over and over again. IMO, a human who tries random stuff, and finds something that works, hasn't really designed his solution. It's serendipity.)

Whether a beehive is "designed" under my definition depends on whether bees envision their alternatives, or whether they create their hives by instinctive programming. Bees surely have some sort of feedback corrective mechanism, but feedback is not design in my book because it does not entail simulation. The bee does not think "what if I use pentagons instead of hexagons?", simulate the outcome, and reject it on practical grounds. At best, the bee thinks "this is an imperfect cell!"

I see nothing out of reach of naturalism under this definition of design.

At 12/26/2007 06:24:00 AM , Blogger Doctor Logic said...

properly basic,

Merry Christmas, to the biggest baddest Doc, Vic Reppert AND the rest of you fine Metaphysicians!

Who, me? A metaphysician? :P

Loving the material

You materialist, you!

Happy holidays and a happy new year to you too. And to all you other metaphysicians!

At 12/26/2007 01:53:00 PM , Blogger exapologist said...

A belated Merry Christmas, all!

At 12/26/2007 07:44:00 PM , Blogger Darek Barefoot said...

PB, DL & Exap

Thank you for seasons greetings.


>>Whether a beehive is "designed" under my definition depends on whether bees envision their alternatives, or whether they create their hives by instinctive programming.<<

I think that any physiological machinery within a bee that produces hives would most simply and scientifically be interpreted as instinctive programming. Ditto for a human engineer.

Here are two questions to consider:

How do you know what it is to run?

How do you know what is to ponder alternatives?

You probably know what it is to run by seeing people (and animals) run. You would know that you yourself were running if you saw and felt your legs moving, saw the ground passing underneath you, etc. What is true of running is true of every other physical activity. You learn what it is by some kind of sensory contact with it.

The way you learned what it is to ponder alternatives is different than the way you learned what it is to run. And the way you know when you are pondering alternatives is not seeing yourself in the mirror, chin on fist with knitted brow. You experience it, but you make no sensory contact with it. True, a physical activity occurs in your brain when you ponder, but you make no sensory contact with that activity.

If you could neither see nor feel nor otherwise sense your legs moving, you could not know with much assurance that you were running; but you know with a high degree of certainty when you are pondering aside from any sensory contact with anything in your brain. We learn what it is to ponder without monitoring brain chemistry, and by monitoring brain chemistry no one who is ignorant of what it is to ponder could learn what it is.

There are physical processes that are too distant or occur on too small a scale for us to sense them directly, but we sense them indirectly through instruments such as telescopes and microscopes. We learn about those events through indirect sensory contact.

At the very least, then, we have a divide between the processes we experience through direct/indirect sensory contact with them and those we experience apart from such contact. Inspection is for one class of things, introspection for another. There is a dualism of epistemic access if nothing else.

My point was that if design is a process that we access apart from the senses, then it is no use trying to define it within the sense-based framework of science. If design requires pondering alternatives and if pondering is only known by introspection, it cannot be shoehorned into categories that are established by inspection.

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