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.
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    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 66:370-376.

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