Agentive phenomenal intentionality and the limits of introspection

Terry Horgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I explore the prospects for overcoming the prima facie tension in the following four claims, all of which I accept: (1) the phenomenal character of experience is narrow; (2) virtually all aspects of the phenomenal character of experience are intentional; (3) the most fundamental kind of mental intentionality is fully constituted by phenomenal character; and yet (4) introspection does not by itself reliably generate answers to certain philosophically important questions about the phenomenally constituted intentional content of experience. The apparent tension results from the following initially plausible thought: if indeed the answers to such questions are entirely fixed by phenomenal character by itself, then presumably these answers should be directly available introspectively. I focus the discussion specifically on certain questions about the phenomenal intentional content of agentive experience—e.g., the question whether the content of agentive experience is compatible with causal determinism. I consider three alternative possibilities for explaining why the answers to such questions are not directly available introspectively—two of which I argue against and the third of which I embrace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsyche (Pasadena)
Issue number2007
StatePublished - 2007


  • Agent-Exclusion Problem
  • Agentive Experience
  • Introspection
  • Phenomenal Intentionality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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