Voorthuis, J. (Spreker), Margit van Schaik (Spreker)

Activiteit: Types gesprekken of presentatiesGenodigd sprekerWetenschappelijk


In his essay True Believers, Daniel Dennett explains how the behavior of entities can be predicted by using certain thought strategies.[1] According to him, three stances can be distinguished that are useful and successful for the explanation and prediction of behavior. First, we can speak of the physical stance whereby we determine an entity’s physical constitution and predict its behavior by using knowledge of the laws of physics. In many cases however, this strategy requires too much effort. You cannot efficiently use the physical stance to predict the use that can be made of for example an alarm clock. In such cases it might be more effective to use the design stance. The design stance ignores, or rather takes as given the details on the molecular level and the behavior of the entity is predicted by what it was designed for. To use Dennett’s own example: from the design stance it is easy to predict when an alarm clock will sound, namely the time on which it was set.[2] One does not need to inspect the interior of the clock to understand its mechanisms for this. Only when we want to predict behavior that is not designed, for example when the object is broken in some way, do we need to revert to the physical stance.
In the case of certain agents it is effective to use a third strategy, namely the intentional stance.[3] This is how it works:
‘First you decide to treat the object whose behavior is to be predicted as a rational agent; then you figure out what beliefs that agent ought to have, given its place in the world and its purpose. Then you figure out what desires it ought to have, on the same considerations, and finally you predict that this rational agent will act to further its goals in the light of its beliefs. A little practical reasoning from the chosen set of beliefs and desires will in many – but not all – instances yield a decision about what the agent ought to do; that is what you predict the agent will do.’ (Dennett, 1987:17)
For this paper, the process of adopting the intentional stance will be interpreted as consisting of four steps: 1) determining the way an entity would reason, its rationality, 2) determining its place in the world, 3) determining what beliefs and desires the entity ought to have and 4) predicting the entity’s behavior in the light of all that. With regard to the general use of the intentional stance, these steps are taken according to the scheme in figure 1. We shall conclude, and demonstrate, that the design stance in fact presupposes the intentional stance.
Periode21 jul 2016
LocatieBamberg, Duitsland
Mate van erkenningInternationaal