Intentional, Unintentional, or Neither? Middle Ground in Theory and Practice

American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (4):369 - 379 (2012)
Abstract
There are intentional actions and unintentional actions. Do we ever perform actions that are neither intentional nor unintentional? Some philosophers have answered "yes" (Mele 1992; Mele and Moser 1994; Mele and Sverdlik 1996; Lowe 1978; Wasserman, forthcoming). That is, they have claimed that there is a middle ground between intentional and unintentional human actions.1 Motivation for this claim is generated by attention to a variety of issues, including two that are of special interest to experimental philosophers of action: the status of side-effect actions, and the status of actions that are instances of luckily succeeding in doing something one is trying to do. This article explores the idea that there is a middle ground between intentional and unintentional human actions, paying special attention to the two issues just identified. The exploration is partly theoretical and partly empirical. Section 2 reports the results of two new studies designed to yield evidence about whether and to what extent nonspecialists recognize this middle ground.
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Thomas Nadelhoffer (2004). On Praise, Side Effects, and Folk Ascriptions of Intentionality. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):196-213.
John Gibbons (2001). Knowledge in Action. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):579-600.
Ryan Wasserman (2011). Intentional Action and the Unintentional Fallacy. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (4):524-534.
Alfred R. Mele (2005). Action. In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy. Oxford University Press. 78-88.
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