Steven Nemes inquires:
Do you think that your stand on intentionality not requiring the existence of the intentional object is contradictory with your argument against haecceity properties (as non-qualitative thisnesses)? You say that an individual can have the property of searching after Atlantis, let's say, even if Atlantis doesn't exist. But your argument against haecceities is that identity-with-Socrates would be nonsense if Socrates didn't exist.
How would you solve the apparent contradiction?
Let's first note an ambiguity that infects 'intentional object.' Intentionality is object-directedness. So there is a clear sense in which every intentional mental state 'takes an accusative,' 'is of or about an object.' That object could be called the intentional object. Accordingly, whether I want a three-headed dog or a one-headed dog, my wanting has an intentional object. The nonexistence of three-headed dogs does not prejudice the object-directedness of my wanting a three-headed dog. It is equally important to note that the existence of one-headed dogs plays no role in making my wanting a one-headed dog object-directed. This is because object-directedness is an intrinsic feature of mental acts. To see this more clearly, suppose I want a one-headed dog that is distinct from every one-headed dog that presently exists. This mental state is object-directed, but its object-directedness does not derive from the present existence of any one-headed dog, or anything else.
But one could also use 'intentional object' to refer to the mind-independent entity, if there is one, that satisfies the description (definite or indefinite) that expresses the content of the intentional state. If we use the term in this second way, then my wanting a three-headed dog does not have an intentional object.
It is only in this second sense that intentionality does not require the existence of the intentional object. It is part of the very essence of wanting as an intentional mental state that it be a wanting of something (that is an objective genitive, by the way, not a subject genitive.) But it doesn't follow that the something exists. Similarly for perceiving, imagining, believing, etc.
As for the haecceity-property identity-with-Socrates, it is nothing at all at times and in worlds in which Socrates doesn't exist. I stick to that self-evident point pace Plantinga. (See A Difficulty With Haecceity Properties)
It seems to me that my line on haecceities is entirely consistent with my line on intentionality. Socrateity (identity-with-Socrates) essentially involves Socrates himself, that very individual, in a way in which seeking Atlantis (construed as a mental state, not as a physical action or actions) does not essentially involve Atlantis itself. And this is a good thing since there is no such island.
You seem to think that an intentional mental state acquires its object-directedness from without in virtue of the mind-independent existence of an entity that the state is directed to. It is this misconception that suggests to you that there is a contradiction in my affirming both
1. An haecceity H of x is nothing if x does not exist
2. It is not the case that a wanting W of x is nothing if x does not exist.
But note that 'H of x' is a subjective genitive whereas 'W of x' is an objective genitive. The haecceity or nonqualitative thisness of Atlantis is nothing at all because Atlantis does not exist. There is nothing for it to be the haecceity of. But a wanting of Atlantis is what it is whether or not Atlantis exists.
And similarly in other cases. An ancient Greek can be a Zeus-worshipper whether or not Zeus exists. But the same Greek cannot own a slave unless there exists some slave he owns. The instance of of ownership requires for its individuation the existence of both relata. But the instance of worshipping does not require the existence of both relata.