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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DOI 10.1007/BF00354051
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References found in this work BETA
John Searle (1983). Intentionality. Oxford University Press.
Myles Brand (1986). Intending and Acting. Philosophical Review 95 (2):261-264.
Irving Thalberg (1984). Do Our Intentions Cause Our Intentional Actions? American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (3):249 - 260.

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Citations of this work BETA
J. Robert Thompson (2014). Meaning and Mindreading. Mind and Language 29 (2):167-200.
Tomis Kapitan (1991). Agency and Omniscience. Religious Studies 27 (1):105-120.
Alfred R. Mele (1989). She Intends to Try. Philosophical Studies 55 (1):101-106.
Alfred R. Mele (1990). Exciting Intentions. Philosophical Studies 59 (3):289-312.
Armin Schulz (2013). The Benefits of Rule Following: A New Account of the Evolution of Desires. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (4a):595-603.

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