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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 1, Winter 2017

James D. Madden
Pages 1-28
DOI: 10.5840/acpq20161212104

Is a Thomistic Theory of Intentionality Consistent with Physicalism?

I argue that a Thomistic theory of intentionality is both philosophically plausible and inconsistent with physicalism. I begin by distinguishing two types of intentionality and two senses in which something can be said to be non-physical. After sketching the relevant background hylomorphic philosophy of nature, I develop a Thomistic theory of intentionality that supports a certain kind of anti-physicalism. I then consider criticisms of the Thomistic theory of intentionality raised by Peter King and Robert Pasnau. In reply I argue that (a) King’s position would have the Scholastics adopt an approach to intentionality that fails to solve the very problem such a theory is supposed to address; and (b) contrary to Pasnau’s objection, there are ample resources available to show that the Thomist does not commit a content fallacy.