Getting Inside the Acting Person

John Finnis claims that in order to judge actions we must approach them from the perspective of the acting person, so that the moral evaluation of actions appears to become private. This paper examines Elizabeth Anscombe’s claim that interior intentions can be discovered through exterior actions. Because deliberation is shaped by the causal features of the world, these causal structures can, when viewed from the outside, serve as a window into the private life of the mind. Therefore, we can usually determine someone’s intention through his observable actions, so that the moral character of actions can become public by way of signs. Causal connections are both effects of intention and causes of intention. Neither of these relations by itself serves as an adequate sign of intention, but the combination of these two (causal structures both as effects and as causes of intention) can serve as signs of intention.
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DOI 10.5840/ipq201050433
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