A redated post.
William Hasker, in the preface to The Emergent Self,(Cornell, 1999) x, wrote:
But there is one kind of approach to these issues that is unlikely to be affected by the views and arguments contained in this book. As an example of this approach, (though by no means not the only one) we may take Daniel Dennett, as he presents himself in his essay in A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind (Blackwell, 1995). He tells us that, having come to distrust the methods employed by other philosophers, he decided that "before I could trust my intuitions about the mind, I had to figure out how the brain could possibly accomplish the mind's work." This means accepting, right from the outset that the brain is a "syntactic engine" that mimics the competence of "semantic engines. (How we mere syntactic engines could ever know what a semantic engine might be is not addressed). All this is dictated by an "initial allegiance....to the physical sciences and the third-person point of view," an allegiance which in turn is justified by appeal to an evolutionary perspective. The foundational commitment to mechanistic materialism is unmistakable. This commitment is subsequently refined and elaborated, but it is never subjected to a fundamental re-evaluation; rather, data that conflict with it are dismissed as illusory. ("This conviction that I, on the inside, deal directly with meanings turns out to be something rather like a benign 'user illusion.'") In view of this, it seems appropriate to characterize Dennett's physicalism as a dogmatic presupposition--and such dogmatism is hardly rendered benign by the fact that it is fairly widespread in the philosophy-of-mind community.