Are intentions self-referential?

Philosophical Studies 52 (3):309-329 (1987)
What is it, precisely, that an agent intends when he intends, as we might say, to clean his stove today? What is the content of his intention? In recent years, Gilbert Harman and John Searle have maintained that all intentions are self-referential -- that is, that an adequate expression of the content of any intention makes essential reference to the intention whose content is being expressed. I shall call this the self-referentiality thesis (SRT). Harman, in his paper 'Practical Reasoning', argues that "the intention to do A is the intention that, because of that very intention, one will do A". Searle, in his book, Intentionality, contends similarly that the "Intentional content" of an agent's "prior intention" to A identifies that very intention as a cause of the agent's (prospective) A-ing. In Sections 1-3 below, I show that the main arguments for the SRT are unsuccessful and that the thesis is problematic. In Section 4, I sketch an alternative account of the contents of intentions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 14,816
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Michael Bratman (1983). Taking Plans Seriously. Social Theory and Practice 9 (2/3):271-287.
Alfred R. Mele (1984). Intending and the Balance of Motivation. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66 (4):370-376.

View all 7 references

Citations of this work BETA
Alfred R. Mele (1989). She Intends to Try. Philosophical Studies 55 (1):101-106.
Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

53 ( #56,738 of 1,707,754 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #104,804 of 1,707,754 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.