Dennett has always refused to build a grand system and some of the contributors clearly find this frustrating: many of the papers are less assessments of his work than attempts to pin him down, to place his ideas into a broader system or in some cases to construct such a system for them. Others attack Dennett on different fronts. In his sixty page response "With a Little Help From My Friends" Dennett finds some suggestions useful, rebuts criticisms, and gracefully and urbanely refuses to be systematized.
- Don Ross' introduction outlines the "Denettian Stance" and glances over the other contributions.
- Evolutionary biologist Timothy Crowe critiques Dennett's "ultra-adaptationism", following Gould and Lewontin in stressing the importance of historical contingency.
- Paul Dumouchel constructs an antinomy of natural reason in the distinction between "Good Tricks" and "Forced Moves" in evolution.
- Ruth Millikan continues a long-running debate with Dennett over the theory of meaning, arguing among other things that the design stance is more basic than the intentional stance.
- Timothy Kenyon asks "What would have to be the case in order for mental properties to be real?" and concludes that "psychological states are both real and mind dependent".
- William Seager argues that we have to reject a naive "scientific picture of the world" in favour of a "surface metaphysics", a modern empiricism "that takes mind or 'patterns' as basic".
- Christopher Viger argues that there are two ontological positions — instrumentalist and small "r" realist — mixed up in Dennett's "intentional stance", and offers a reconciliation of them consistent with both his agendas.
- Don Ross constructs a complete ontological system, a "comprehensive metaphysic", for Dennett.
- Dan Lloyd argues that rejecting Cartesianism isn't enough, that we should extend Dennett's insights and "renounce representationalism in all its forms", espousing instead a phenomenal realism.
- David Thompson argues that Dennett could learn from a closer look at Husserl.
- Andrew Brook looks back, after eight years, at the "multiple drafts" model presented in Consciousness Explained.
- Thomas Polger takes up Dennett's "zombie challenge", presenting a taxonomy of zombies (and zimboes) and claiming demonstration of a coherent, non-question-begging definition thereof.
- David Rosenthal rejects first-person operationalism, arguing for the presence of higher-order thoughts as a criteria for distinguishing conscious mental states.
- T. Brian Mooney expands on Dennett's naturalist critiques of deontological and utilitarian ethics.