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How to be an Intentionalist

Abstract

The general aim of this paper is to establish the plausibility of a postfoundational intentionalism. Its specific aim is to respond to criticisms of my work made by Vivienne Brown in a paper “On Some Problems with Weak Intentionalism for Intellectual History”. Postfoundationalism is often associated with a new textualism according to which there is no outside to the text. In contrast, I suggest that postfoundationalists can legitimate our postulating intentions, actions, and other historical objects outside of the text. They can do so by reference to, first, philosophical commitments to general classes of objects, and, second, inference to the best explanation with respect to particular objects belonging to such classes. This postfoundational intentionalism sets up a suitable context within which to address Brown’s more specific questions.

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