Mental overpopulation and mental action: Protecting intentions from mental birth control

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):49-65 (2007)
Abstract
Many philosophers of action afford intentions a central role in theorizing about action and its explanation. Furthermore, current orthodoxy in the philosophy of action has it that intentions play a causal role with respect to the etiology and explanation of action. But action theory is not without its heretics. Some philosophers have challenged the orthodox view. In this paper I examine and critique one such challenge. I consider David-Hillel Ruben's case against the need for intentions to play a causal role in the etiology and explanation of mental actions. Contra Ruben, I defend the orthodox view that intentions play an indispensable causal and explanatory role with respect to mental actions.
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