Intentionality and its objects
A full explication of the phenomenon of intentionality must explain the aboutness or object-directedness of thought and give a theory of the objects that we are related to in thought. I chose to approach the topic of intentionality by investigating the objects of the attitudes. Thus, my dissertation answers a central question concerning intentionality: what are the objects of thought?
My main thesis is that the objects of thought are constructions. By explicating and developing Pavel Tichy's theory of constructions, I show that the theory of constructions makes a significant contribution to the theory of intentionality.
To answer the central question with which I am concerned, I focus on two kinds of puzzles: the diversity puzzle and substitution puzzles. The diversity puzzle concerns the variety of objects that can serve as the objects of the attitudes. This puzzle is a challenge for a theory of intentionality because although there are reasons to accept that the objects of thought are uniform in category, the kinds of objects we can think about are very diverse. Additionally, the substitution puzzles are a rich source of data for discovering the objects of thought, because they alert us to the fact that fine-grained distinctions need to be made.
With the theory of constructions, I solve both of these puzzles. Because constructions are related to a variety of objects such as propositions, properties, concepts, and so on, I argue that the diversity of thought can be accounted for in virtue of these relations. Moreover, since constructions can be structured objects, I show how they can solve a number of fine-grained puzzles.