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They are more difficult to explain if intention-with-which is the basic material from which intention and intentional action are built. This argument is developed at greater length in Setiya , pp. Pressures of this kind push us towards the second approach, now orthodox in action theory, which aims to explain both intentional action and intention-with-which in terms of intention as a mental state.

There are two immediate difficulties. First, although we sometimes form an intention prior to acting, this is not essential. I can wave my arm intentionally without planning in advance. This fact elicits a refinement often credited to Searle , pp. In the former case, one intends to do A , perhaps at some point in the future. In the latter, one intends to be doing it now. When S is doing A intentionally, she is doing it in execution of an intention in action, though except in very unusual cases she also intends to do A : to complete the action she is in the midst of performing.

This refinement preserves the idea that doing A intentionally requires an intention whose object is doing A. This is what Bratman , p. For now, it is sufficient to note that I sometimes count as doing A intentionally when it is a merely foreseen and unintended consequence of what I intend to do. See Harman , pp. Thus if I am paid to pump water into the cistern of a house, and I continue to do so even when I realize that the water is poisoned, I poison the inhabitants of the house intentionally, despite the fact that I did not intend or desire such harm cf.

Anscombe , pp. Even here, however, an intention is executed: I intend to pump water into the house. In general, when it is not the execution of a directly corresponding intention, doing A intentionally is a foreseen or desired consequence of an action that is. Admittedly, this condition is necessary, not sufficient, for intentional action, a concept whose vagaries are hard to map. But the execution of intention remains the core phenomenon from which all instances of intentional action are derived.


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Along with such matters of detail, two problems of principle can be raised against the present approach. The first contends that it is tacitly circular, because the content of intention always includes the concept of intentionality Wilson , pp. In prospective intention, I intend not only to do A , but to do A intentionally , and the same point holds for the object of intention in action. This prevents us from explaining what it is to act intentionally in terms of intention as a mental state.

The force of this objection is unclear. Our task is not to introduce the concept of intentional action to someone who lacks that concept, but to spell out the metaphysics of doing A intentionally. A more direct response to the challenge would deny its premise. While it is true that the execution of intention is intentional action, it does not follow that the object of intention is doing A intentionally cf.

Searle , pp. If I intend to be smiling and am doing so involuntarily, I am doing what I intend, though not intentionally. Likewise, if I intend to skip breakfast and do so because I forget about it, my intention was fulfilled, though not by intentional action. In that case, my intention is fulfilled, in its entirety, only if I act on them and thereby act intentionally.

See Wallace , pp. On the content of intention, more generally, see Harman , pp. One source of concern about intention as efficient cause is that intention need not precede intentional action, while causes must precede their effects. But causal theorists may deny that claim about the temporality of causes, conceiving intention as the simultaneous, sustaining cause of what one is doing Thalberg , pp. They can also accommodate the case in which intention is essential to, and thus not fully distinct from, the action it causes: for things that cannot be done except intentionally, as perhaps greeting and promising Anscombe , pp.

Even here, intention could play an efficient-causal role in its own execution Setiya a, pp 56—9. If we are trying to say what it is to act intentionally, the condition of doing A because one so intends looks insufficient. For it says nothing about the causal path from intention to action. If I intend to be shaking in order to signal my confederate, and this intention makes me nervous, so that I shake, I am shaking because I intend to do so—though not intentionally. There is a failure of intentional action only when intermediaries are of the wrong kind. Reactions to causal deviance vary widely.

Some are convinced that the problem is hopeless Anscombe , pp. See Thalberg ; Mele , Ch. A recent development finds a problem of causal deviance in the manifestation of dispositions, even when they are dispositions of inanimate objects. Suppose I attach a fragile glass to an explosive device that detects whether it is attached to something fragile and if it is, shatters the object when it is struck.

When the glass is struck, it will break in part because it is fragile without manifesting its fragility: the causal connection is wrong. Because the phenomenon deviance is in this way general, there is reason to hope we can solve it for intentional action by appeal to resources we need elsewhere. See Hyman on dispositions and desires. It is in any case unclear how the dispute about causal deviance bears on the project of explaining intentional action through intention as a mental state.

Like the theory of intending as being embarked upon intentional action, the disjunctive conception agrees with Aristotle that action is, or can be, the conclusion of practical thought. Corresponding issues have been pursued in the philosophy of perception, where causal and disjunctive theories are often opposed as by Snowdon —1 , and in epistemology more broadly. Instead of explaining knowledge as belief that meets further conditions, some epistemologists treat knowledge as basic, explaining mere belief as its defective form McDowell ; Williamson A question for this view is how the state of intending can be a form of something dynamic: the event or process of acting.

To answer this question, we need to say more about the kind of state intention is. If intention is a mental state in relation to which doing A amounts to doing A intentionally, or with the further intention of doing B , that fact would unify the modes of intention with which we began. It would, however, tell us little about intending itself.

Does this state involve desire? Belief about what one is doing or what one is going to do? Evaluative judgement? Similar questions arise for those who deny that intention is a mental state and explain it as being on the way to intentional action. Must I want to perform an action I am thus embarked upon?

Believe that I am engaged in it? Hold it to be in some way good? He made two further refinements. If the judgement is merely that a given action is no less desirable than others, it permits me to intend A and intend B , even if I know that they are incompatible. A related objection is that we can fail to act, or intend, in accordance with our evaluations. In a typical case of akrasia , I conclude that I ought to quit, but decide to continue smoking instead. All things considered judgement is the special case of this in which r includes all the considerations one holds relevant.

There is no inconsistency in judging that the sum of these particular considerations favours A over B while judging that B is better than A , perhaps in light of other considerations one has not specifically considered. Since it is the latter judgement that constitutes intention, one can act intentionally against the former. This is how Davidson makes sense of my continuing to smoke. A recent critic is McDowell Or fail to intend in accordance with one? He may intend this to be trivial, counting that fact that A is better than B among the relevant truths.

But it is both plausible and non-trivial to claim that A is better than B , in the relevant sense, if and only if the balance of reasons favours A over B , where the reasons are distinct from that evaluative fact. A consequence of this fact is the need to distinguish weakness as akrasia from weakness as failure of will; see Holton , Ch. Whichever way we go, we will need to motivate the evaluative theory. What is it about the role of intention in intentional action, or in practical reasoning, that requires it to take an evaluative shape?

What is missing from theories of intention on which it does not? For Bratman , intention is a distinctive practical attitude marked by its pivotal role in planning for the future. The plans for action contained in our intentions are typically partial and must be filled out in accordance with changing circumstances as the future comes.

Among the advantages of being able to commit ourselves to action in advance, albeit defeasibly, are: i the capacity to make rational decisions in circumstances that leave no time to deliberate, or lend themselves to deliberative distortion; ii the capacity to engage in complex, temporally extended projects that require coordination with our future selves; and iii the capacity for similar coordination with others.

Bratman , Ch. This conception is, on the one hand, too weak, since it treats the fact that I have settled on doing A as just one consideration among many in favour of doing it, whereas means-end coherence is a strict or peremptory demand. And it is, on the other hand, too strong, since it permits a form of illicit bootstrapping in which an irrational decision can generate a reason that tips the balance in favour of acting on it. Do intentions ever provide reasons? Many deny this; see, for instance, Broome ; Brunero ; Cullity ; Kolodny For versions of this point, see Chang ; Ferrero ; Smith But it faces problems of its own.

This structure prompts a serious dilemma. If reasons for adopting a practice or pattern of reasoning transmit to the actions or inferences that fall under it, as Rawls once argued, the problems of bootstrapping and peremptoriness return. All we have is a theory of why intentions provide reasons. Neither option is appealing. By the same token, there is no need to admit that intentions provide reasons for acting. We thus avoid both horns of the dilemma sketched above.

How far this strategy succeeds is a matter of ongoing dispute Setiya b; Bratman b; Brunero ; Way A further objection to the demands for consistency and coherence in intention turns on an implication that Bratman , Ch. According to the Simple View, doing A intentionally involves an intention whose object is A. As Bratman argues, however, it is sometimes rational to attempt both A and B , hoping to achieve one or the other, when I know that I cannot do both.

Considerations of symmetry imply that I also intended to do B. But then my intentions are not jointly consistent with my beliefs. Bratman concludes that the Simple View is false, since it would be irrational to have such intentions. Instead, I intend to try doing A and to try doing B , knowing that I can make both attempts, though both cannot succeed. But he finds this phrase ambiguous. On one reading, it ascribes the intention to do A , but in the present case it does not. What is more, there are natural alternatives.

One equates intention with guiding desire, defends the Simple View, and finds the requirement of consistency defeasible. There is rational pressure to conform to it, in general, but this pressure can be outweighed, as when it makes sense to intend both A and B , despite their manifest inconsistency, hoping to achieve just one.

The question is whether such accounts reveal the unity of intentional action, intention for the future, and intention-with-which. The more basic objection is about the role of intention in intentional action. But it is open to question how deep the envisaged unity goes.

Why must there be intention in intentional action, if intentions are plans? A partial answer cites the need for direction and guidance in doing anything that takes time or requires the selection of means. But it is not clear that such guidance requires intention see Bratman , pp. Why must reasons attach to what I am doing by way of plans or guiding desires? One response is to admit that they may not: there can be intentional action without intention see Bratman , pp.

But if we hope to unify intention with intentional action, we cannot accept this. Intention must figure in the correct account of acting for a reason, and thus intentionally. In order to avoid disunity, the theory of intentions as plans or as guiding desires needs such an account. Acknowledging these problems, some philosophers turn back to Davidson and the project of reducing intention to desire and means-end belief see, especially, Ridge ; Sinhababu ; and, for discussion, Mulder But others see a promise of unity in the idea—influentially proposed by Elizabeth Anscombe , pp.

What is more, acting for a reason, in a sense that contrasts with mere purposive behavior of the sort characteristic of other animals , essentially involves such knowledge: in acting for a reason, I know an explanation of what I am doing that cites that reason, and therefore know that I am doing it.

Intentional action turns on knowing the answer to that question. This picture raises many difficulties, and needs considerable refinement and defence. Some will resist the claim that acting for a reason is acting with self-knowledge—though it is important to stress that the knowledge attributed here need not involve conscious belief. There is also disagreement about the kind of explanation involved in giving the reasons for which one acts Wilson , Ch. But if the picture is basically right, it suggests that the unity of intention can be found in knowledge or belief about action.

Assuming that knowledge entails belief, the basic thought is that intention in action involves the belief that one is doing A. And prospective intention, or intention for the future, involves a belief about what one is going to do and why. The idea that intention involves belief is what unifies intentional action, prospective intention, and intention-with-which. See the treatment of mistakes below. The claim that intention entails belief—most commonly, that if one intends to do A , one believes that one is going to do it—is widespread among those who draw no particular inspiration from Anscombe.

See Audi ; Harman ; Davis ; Ross As Grice , pp. See Davidson , pp. So far, we have only the fragment of a theory, an alleged condition of intending, not an adequate account of what intention is. Here there are several possibilities. On the simplest proposal, to intend an action is to believe that one will perform it and to have an appropriate guiding desire Audi , p. But a mere conjunction seems insufficient: the desire and belief could be utterly unrelated Davis , pp. This prompts the suggestion that, when S intends to do A , his belief rests on his desire: to intend an action is to believe that one will perform it on the ground that one wants to do so Davis , p.

The principal defect of this account is that it makes the belief component of intention epiphenomenal. Something similar is true on more subtle theories that divorce the motivational role of intention from belief; as, for instance, Ross , pp. For objections of this kind, see Bratman , pp. There is variation even among those accounts that give a motivational role to belief.

Such expectations interact with a general desire for self-knowledge to motivate action by which they are confirmed. More recently, Velleman has replaced the desire for self-knowledge with a sub-personal aim or disposition Velleman 19— Either way, his view threatens to generate what Bratman , pp. A different proposal, due to Harman , p.

But it seems possible to intend an action spontaneously, for no particular reason. In later work, Harman looks downstream of intention, rather than upstream: an intention is a belief about what one is doing or what one is going to do that has the power to guide and motivate action through practical thought Harman , pp.


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In the bad case, one merely intends to act. If not its causal role, however, what distinguishes knowledge in intention from knowledge of other kinds? Intention sets a standard of success for what does. For discussions of this point, see Frost ; Setiya a; Campbell a; Campbell b. Intention is justified by the former, not the latter: by practical not theoretical reasoning Anscombe , pp.

It is often regarded as a virtue of such cognitivism that it explains why there should be an indefeasible requirement of consistency among intentions and beliefs Ross , pp. It has also been argued that the requirement of means-end coherence follows from requirements of theoretical reason on the beliefs that figure in our intentions Harman , p. If I intend to do E and thus believe that I will do it, and I believe that doing M is a necessary means to doing E , but do not intend or believe that I am going to do M , I fail to believe a practically salient logical consequence of what I believe.

The principal challenge for a cognitivist account of means-end coherence is to explain why one must avoid such theoretical failures by forming the relevant intention, not just the corresponding belief Bratman a. But once again, one need not defend cognitivism, even in its less ambitious form, in conceiving intention as a kind of belief. There are two main arguments against this conception. The first turns on apparent cases of intention without belief. Or imagine I am recovering from paralysis, and movement slowly returns to my hand.

At a certain point, I am not sure that I can clench my fist. As it happens, I can. But if I try to do so behind my back, under anesthesia, I may not believe that I am clenching my fist, even though—on the face of it—I am doing so intentionally, and that is just what I intend Setiya , pp. Something similar crops up in planning for the future. Such examples can be dealt with in various ways. One strategy insists that, when I do not believe that I am clenching my fist, or that I will mail the bills, I do not intend the corresponding actions, I merely intend to try Harman , pp.

But do I really act as I intended if I try and fail? See Pears , p. And when I know that I am forgetful, do I even believe that I will try to mail the bills? A more radical theory points to the simplifying assumption, often made in epistemology, that belief is binary and does not come by degree. On that assumption, it may be harmless to claim that intention involves belief. But the truth is bound to be more complex: that in forming an intention one becomes more confident than one would otherwise be Setiya , pp.

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A final response casts doubt on the examples. It is not a condition of being embarked on intentional action that one will in fact succeed. The same might be said when I am clenching my first, if what I know is merely that I am in progress towards doing so, in some liminal way. This points back to the theory of intending as doing, discussed in section 1. This strategy struggles with prospective intention and the belief that I am going to act. But its advocates may insist that the content of prospective intention is also imperfective Thompson , pp. We have practical knowledge only of what is in progress, not what has happened, or what will.

The second objection is epistemic. If forming an intention is, among other things, coming to believe that one is doing A , or that one is going to do A , what entitles us to form such beliefs? Not, or not ordinarily, that we have sufficient evidence of their truth. Forming an intention is not predicting the future on the basis of what one takes to be, or what ought to be, adequate grounds. Even though he hopes to reduce practical to theoretical reasoning, and holds that intention involves belief, he denies that intentions are formed on the basis of sufficient prior evidence.

Anscombe and Velleman concede that knowledge in intention often rests in part on observation; the claim is that it goes beyond what observation, or inference from prior evidence, can support. For differing views of the role of perception in practical knowledge, see Pickard ; Gibbons ; Schwenkler ; Ford The postulation of beliefs formed without sufficient prior evidence is sometimes taken as a fatal flaw. In a memorable formulation, Grice , p. Instead, we know what we are doing, or what we are going to do, by inference from the condition of our will, along with premises about our own abilities Grice , pp.

The condition of the will cannot itself involve belief. Reactions to this problem vary widely. Those who restrict the content of intention to what is in progress and emphasize how little is involved in being embarked on intentional action may suggest that the beliefs in question verify themselves. It is sufficient for doing A intentionally, in the relevant sense, that one intends to do it. As we saw in section 1, however, there are reasons to doubt this sufficiency. And the view seems to deflate the interest of practical knowledge. Non-reliabilists may dismiss the need for prior evidence, holding that we are entitled to form a belief if we know that it will be true, and that we will have sufficient evidence for its truth, once formed; this condition can be met when we form an intention to act Harman , p.

So long as I know what I intend, and that my intention will be effective, I have sufficient evidence for what I am doing, or what am I going to do, even though this evidence did not precede the forming of my intention. Critics may object to the necessity of these conditions. A more common objection is that the conditions are not sufficient. They assimilate intention to faith, as when I form the belief that I can leap a great chasm even though I have no evidence of my ability to do so, knowing that the belief itself will ensure success.

On an alternative view, there is a general demand for prior evidence in forming beliefs, but our intentions are sometimes exempt from it, as perhaps when we know how to perform the relevant acts Setiya ; Setiya ; Setiya It is know-how that explains why the execution of our intentions, and thus the truth of the beliefs that they involve, can be credited to us. Is practical knowledge exempt from ordinary requirements of evidence because there is a mistake of performance, not of judgement, when its object is false? Marriage, Misc Political Theory.

What is normativity? It is argued here that normativity is best understood as a property of certain concepts: normative thoughts are those involving these normative concepts; normative statements are statements that express normative thoughts; and normative facts are the facts if such there be that make such normative thoughts true. Many philosophers propose that there is a single basic normative concept—perhaps the concept of a reason for an action or attitude—in terms of which all other norm… Read more What is normativity?

Many philosophers propose that there is a single basic normative concept—perhaps the concept of a reason for an action or attitude—in terms of which all other normative concepts can be defined. It is argued here that this proposal faces grave difficulties.

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According to a better proposal, what these normative concepts have in common is that they have a distinctive sort of conceptual role—a reasoning-guiding conceptual role. This proposal is illustrated by a number of examples: different normative concepts differ from each other in virtue of their having different conceptual roles of this reasoning-guiding kind. Normativity, Misc. This account is defended on the basis of the text of Meno, Phaedo, and the Republic, against some objections — especially objections that are due to Gail Fine. Plato: Knowledge and Belief. In this discussion, I shall simply assume, for the sake of argument, that this view is correct.

My goal here is to explore a particular approach to understanding the basic principles that explain which of these normative judgements are true. Specifically, this approach is based on the assumption that all such normative principles are grounded in facts about values, and the normative principles that apply to beliefs in particular are grounded in facts about alethic value——a kind of value that is exemplified by believing what is true and not believing what is false.

In this chapter, I shall explain what I regard as the best way of interpreting this approach. In doing so, I shall also show how this interpretation can solve some problems that have recently been raised for approaches of this kind by Selim Berker, Jennifer Carr, Michael Caie, and Hilary Greaves. Rationality, Misc Epistemic Value. Normal agents in the actual world are limited: they cannot think about all the options that are available to them—or even about all options that are available to them according to their evidence.

Moreover, agents cannot choose an option unless they have thought about that option. Such agents can be irrational in two ways: either by making their choice too quickly, without canvassing enough options, or by wasting time canvassing ever more options when they have already thought of enough options. This chapter proposes an account of this kind of rationality for limited agents.

To be rational, such agents need a kind of background sensitivity to whether or not continuing to search for more options has greater expected value than deciding right away. According to this proposal, it is the unavoidable predicament of choice that all rational decision-making depends on the unconscious operation of mental dispositions. Topics in Decision Theory, Misc. There are three well-known models of how to account for perceptual belief within a probabilistic framework: a a Cartesian model; b a model advocated by Timothy Williamson; and c a model advocated by Richard Jeffrey.

Each of these models faces a problem—in effect, the problem of accounting for the defeasibility of perceptual justification and perceptual knowledge. It is argued here that the best way of responding to this the best way of responding to this problem effectively vindicates the … Read more There are three well-known models of how to account for perceptual belief within a probabilistic framework: a a Cartesian model; b a model advocated by Timothy Williamson; and c a model advocated by Richard Jeffrey.

It is argued here that the best way of responding to this the best way of responding to this problem effectively vindicates the Cartesian model. Finally, it is argued that, given the best interpretation of the probabilistic framework, that the Cartesian model is not vulnerable to the main criticisms that have been raised against it.

As a young Anglican clergyman, Joseph Butler published the first edition of his Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel in ; a revised edition appeared in Almost immediately, it was widely understood that these sermons present a strikingly subtle and careful form of a relatively traditional conception of ethics, in contrast to the more radical views of other philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes. Only a few years later, David Hume was much concerned to assimilate Butler's insights, w… Read more As a young Anglican clergyman, Joseph Butler published the first edition of his Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel in ; a revised edition appeared in Only a few years later, David Hume was much concerned to assimilate Butler's insights, while himself arguing for more radical views; and those who sought to respond to Hume, such as Richard Price and Thomas Reid, drew deeply on Butler's thought.

Such early utilitarians as Jeremy Bentham and J. This essay examines the epistemology of evaluative, and especially moral, thinking, and attempts an analysis of value-concepts. It proposes an account according to which sentiment plays a central role in all rational evaluative thinking. But this account diverges sharply from traditional emotivism: it insists that rational evaluative thinking must be principled; it defends the pursuit of systematic moral theory through seeking reflective equilibrium; and, though committed to holding that value-j… Read more This essay examines the epistemology of evaluative, and especially moral, thinking, and attempts an analysis of value-concepts.

But this account diverges sharply from traditional emotivism: it insists that rational evaluative thinking must be principled; it defends the pursuit of systematic moral theory through seeking reflective equilibrium; and, though committed to holding that value-judgments can be straightforwardly true, it is compatible with many metaphysical positions about the nature of evaluative truth, ranging from subjectivism to non-reductive realism about values. A philosophical study of a concept should offer a non-circular account of what it is to grasp the concept; and grasp of a concept involves mastery of the basic rules for forming rational beliefs involving the concept.

This implies internalism: value-judgments are essentially connected to an actual or imagined motivation to act accordingly. To avoid circularity, such an internalist account must assign an evidential role in evaluative thinking to emotions or sentiments. But one can counteract this fallibility only by constructing a set of general principles, through seeking reflective equilibrium on the basis of one's sentiments, and thereby simultaneously refining both one's sentiments and one's value-judgments.

Finally, various sceptical challenges to our moral capacities are considered. Moral Emotivism and Sentimentalism.

Hypothesis and Theory ARTICLE

Here is a definition of knowledge: for you to know a proposition p is for you to have an outright belief in p that is correct precisely because it manifests the virtue of rationality. This definition is compati… Read more Here is a definition of knowledge: for you to know a proposition p is for you to have an outright belief in p that is correct precisely because it manifests the virtue of rationality.

Ralph Wedgwood gives a general account of what it is for states of mind and processes of thought to count as rational. Whether you are thinking rationally depends purely on what is going on in your mind, but rational thinking is a means to the goal of getting things right in your thinking, by believing the truth or making good choices. Schroeder on expressivism: For — or against? Moral Expressivism. Many philosophers working on the branches of philosophy that deal with the normative questions have adopted a " Reasons First" program.

This paper criticizes the foundational assumptions of this program. In fact, there are many different concepts that can be expressed by the term 'reason' in English, none of which are any more fundamental than any others. Indeed, most of these concepts are not particularly fundamental in any interesting sense. Virtue Ethics, Misc Rationality, Misc.

Let us take an example that Bernard Williams made famous. Suppose that you want a gin and tonic, and you believe that the stuff in front of you is gin. In fact, however, the stuff is not gin but petrol. So if you drink the stuff even mixed with tonic , it will be decidedly unpleasant, to say the least. Should you choose to drink the stuff or not? According to John Broome, akrasia consists in a failure to intend to do something that one believes one ought to do, and such akrasia is necessarily irrational.

Why Do Humans Act Irrationally?

In fact, however, failing to intend something that one believes one ought to do is only guaranteed to be irrational if one is certain of a maximally detailed proposition about what one ought to do; if one is uncertain about any part of the full story about what one ought to do, it could be perfectly rational not to intend to do something… Read more According to John Broome, akrasia consists in a failure to intend to do something that one believes one ought to do, and such akrasia is necessarily irrational.