There is thinking, conducted by a single person, about how to live. And there is thinking together– a kind of “language infused”(5) shared activity – about how to live together. In the first of these fascinating and deeply probing Tanner Lectures Allan Gibbard is concerned with both of these phenomena and with how they interact.
In my 1987 book I tried to understand intentions as, in the basic case, elements of larger and typically partial plans whose primary roles in our lives are ones of coordination and organization, both cross-temporal and social.1 I called this the planning theory of intention. Central to the planning theory is the idea that intentions – in contrast with ordinary desires -- are both embedded in characteristic regularities and are subject to distinctive rational pressures for consistency and coherence. There is, (...) in particular, a rational demand that one’s intentions, taken together with one’s beliefs, fit together into a consistent model of one’s future. There is, further, a rational demand that one’s intentions be means-end coherent in the sense, roughly, that it not be true that one intends E, believes that E requires that one intend means M, and yet not intend M.3 And these norms of consistency and coherence are operative in a planning agent’s practical reasoning. (shrink)
The practical thought of planning agents is subject to distinctive rationality norms. In particular, there are norms of intention consistency and of means-end coherence. I discuss the normative significance of these norms and their relation to practical reasons. I seek a path between views that see these norms as, at bottom, norms of theoretical rationality, and views that see the idea that these norms have distinctive normative significance as a 'myth'. And I seek to distinguish these norms from principles about (...) the transmission of practical reasons. In the end, my view draws on claims about what is involved in being a self-governing planning agent. (shrink)
Two approaches to instrumental rationality Suppose I intend end E, believe that a necessary means to E is M, and believe that M requires that I intend M. My attitudes concerning E and M engage a basic requirement of practical rationality, a requirement that, barring a change in my cited beliefs, I either intend M or give up intending E.2 Call this the Instrumental Rationality requirement – for short, the IR requirement.
Cases of modest sociality are cases of small scale shared intentional agency in the absence of asymmetric authority relations. I seek a conceptual framework that adequately supports our theorizing about such modest sociality. I want to understand what in the world constitutes such modest sociality. I seek an understanding of the kinds of normativity that are central to modest sociality. And throughout we need to keep track of the relations—conceptual, metaphysical, normative—between individual agency and modest sociality. In pursuit of these (...) theoretical aims, I propose that a central phenomenon is shared intention. I argue that an adequate understanding of the distinctiveness of the intentions of individuals allows us to provide a construction of attitudes of the participants, and of relevant inter-relations and contexts that constitutes shared intention. I explain how shared intention, so understood, differs from a simple equilibrium within common knowledge. And I briefly contrast my views with aspects of views of John Searle and Margaret Gilbert. (shrink)
Human beings act together in characteristic ways. Forms of shared activity matter to us a great deal, both intrinsically – think of friendship and love, singing duets, and the joys of conversation -- and instrumentally – think of how we frequently manage to work together to achieve complex goals. My focus will be on activities of small, adult groups in the absence of asymmetric authority relations within those groups. My approach begins with an underlying model of individual planning agency, and (...) then seeks a conceptual and metaphysical bridge from such individual planning agency to modest forms of sociality. (shrink)
This chapter sketches a model of deliberation that is anchored in plan-like commitments of the agent, commitments that constitute a form of valuing. These anchors need not be inescapable, they can sensibly vary from person to person, they can stand in complex relations to judgments about the good, and they play basic roles in the coss-temporal organization of practical thought and action. And deliberation so understood is, I conjecture, central to autonomy and self-government. The model sketched here is located in (...) the space between Frankfurtian appeals to volitional necessity and Platonic appeals to judgments about the best. It sees anchors for deliberation as valuings that have agential authority, are potentially revocable, can diverge across rational agents, and bear complex relations to judgments about the best. Their reasonable stability involves defeasible presumptions both against reconsideration and against revision, presumptions characteristic of plan-like commitments and supported by considerations of cross-temporal instrumentality, integrity and autonomy. And this support for stability by connections to cross-temporal organization goes in part by way of the connection between cross-temporal organization and agential authority. (shrink)
This is a collection of published and unpublished essays by distinguished philosopher Michael E. Bratman of Stanford University. They revolve around his influential theory, know as the "planning theory of intention and agency." Bratman's primary concern is with what he calls "strong" forms of human agency--including forms of human agency that are the target of our talk about self-determination, self-government, and autonomy. These essays are unified and cohesive in theme, and will be of interest to philosophers in ethics and metaphysics.
Introduction to Philosophy, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive topically organized collection of classical and contemporary philosophy available. Building on the exceptionally successful tradition of previous editions, this edition for the first time incorporates the insights of a new coeditor, John Martin Fischer, and has been updated and revised to make it more accessible. Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, the text includes sections on the meaning of life, God and evil, knowledge and reality, the philosophy of science, the mind/body problem, (...) freedom of will, consciousness, ethics, and philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. It presents seventy substantial--and in some cases complete--selections from the best and most influential works in philosophy, offering a unique balance between classical and contemporary material. An extensive glossary of philosophical terms is also included. The fourth edition features fifteen new readings, including work by Albert Camus, Roderick M. Chisholm, Daniel Dennett, Harry G. Frankfurt, William Paley, Derek Parfit, John Perry, Richard Taylor, Peter Van Inwagen, Bernard Williams, and Susan Wolf. Part III, Knowledge and Reality, has been restructured and now includes Plato's Thaetetus, selections by Edmund L. Gettier and Robert Nozick, and an essay by Christopher Grau that explores the philosophical concepts presented in the popular film The Matrix. Two new ethics puzzles--"The Trolley Problem" and "Ducking Harm and Sacrificing Others"--are also included. This edition incorporates Study Questions after each reading and is accompanied by an Instructor's CD and a Student Companion Website, both containing helpful resources. (shrink)
In "Action and Responsibility,'' Joel Feinberg pointed to an important idea to which he gave the label "the accordion effect.'' Feinberg's discussion of this idea is of interest on its own, but it is also of interest because of its interaction with his critique, in his "Causing Voluntary Actions,'' of a much discussed view of H. L. A. Hart and A. M. Honoré that Feinberg labels the "voluntary intervention principle.'' In this essay I reflect on what the accordion effect is (...) supposed by Feinberg to be, on differences between Feinberg's understanding of this idea and that of Donald Davidson, and on the interaction between Feinberg's discussion of the accordion effect and his critique of the voluntary intervention principle. (shrink)
You can sometimes have and be moved by desires which you in some sense disown. The problem is whether we can make sense of these ideas of---as I will say---ownership and rejection of a desire, without appeal to a little person in the head who is looking on at the workings of her desires and giving the nod to some but not to others. Frankfurt's proposed solution to this problem, sketched in his 1971 article, has come to be called the (...) hierarchical model. Indeed, it seems that, normally, if an agent's relevant higher-order attitudes are not to some extent shaped by her evaluative reflections and judgments her agency will be flawed. But this suggests a Platonic challenge to the hierarchical account of ownership. The challenge is to explain why we should not see such evaluative judgments---rather than broadly Frankfurtian higher-order attitudes---as the fundamental basis of ownership or rejection of desire. I do think that a systematic absence of connection between higher-order Frankfurtian attitude and evaluative judgment would be a breakdown in proper functioning. But I want to explain how we can grant this point and still block the Platonic challenge. (shrink)
I consider two inter-related problems in the philosophy of action. One concerns the role of the agent in the determination of action, and I call it the problem of agential authority. The other concerns the relation between motivating desire and the agent's normative deliberation, and I call it the problem of subjective normative authority. In part by way of discussion of work of Harry Frankfurt and Christine Korsgaard, I argue that we make progress with these problems by appeal to certain (...) kinds of higher-order policies and to their role in the cross-temporal organization of the deliberation and action of temporally persisting agents like us. (shrink)
This collection of essays by one of the most prominent and internationally respected philosophers of action theory is concerned with deepening our understanding of the notion of intention. In Bratman's view, when we settle on a plan for action we are committing ourselves to future conduct in ways that help support important forms of coordination and organization both within the life of the agent and interpersonally. These essays enrich that account of commitment involved in intending, and explore its implications for (...) our understanding of temptation and self-control, shared intention and shared cooperative activity, and moral responsibility. The essays offer extensive discussions of related views by, among others, Donald Davidson, Hector-Neri Castañeda, Christine Korsgaard, Harry Frankfurt, and P. F. Strawson. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students. (shrink)
We are planning agents and we are, or so we suppose, responsible agents. How are these two distinctive aspects of our agency related? In his "Freedom and Resentment" Peter Strawson understands responsible agency in terms of "reactive attitudes" like resentment and gratitude, attitudes which are normally embedded in "ordinary inter-personal relationships." I draw on Strawson''s account to sketch an answer to my question about responsibility and planning. First, the fact that an action is plan-embedded can influence the agent''s degree of (...) culpability for that action; for such embeddings can constitute or indicate important facts about the quality of the agent''s will. Second, general planning incapacities can to some extent exempt an agent from normal judgments of responsibility. My argument for this second claim appeals to the normal roles of planning in "ordinary inter-personal relationships.". (shrink)
I [try] to understand identification by appeal to phenomena of deciding to treat, and of treating, a desire of one's as reason-giving in one's practical reasoning, planning, and action. Is identification, so understood, "fundamental," as Frankfurt says, "to any philosophy of mind and of action"? Well, we have seen reason to include in our model of intentional agency such phenomena of deciding to treat, and of treating, certain of one's desires as reason-giving. Identification, at bottom, consists in such phenomena — (...) or so I have proposed. Given that such phenomena are important in our practical lives, we may agree with Frankfurt that identification is, in this sense, "fundamental.". (shrink)
I sketch my general model of the roles of intentions in the planning of agents like us-agents with substantial resource limitations and with important needs for coordination. I then focus on the stability of prior intentions: their rational resistance to reconsideration. I emphasize the importance of cases in which one's nonreconsideration of a prior intention is nondeliberative and is grounded in relevant habits of reconsideration. Concerning such cases I argue for a limited form of two-tier consequentialism, one that is restricted (...) in ways that aim at blocking an analogue of Smart's concerns about rule-worship. I contrast this with the unrestricted two-tier consequentialism suggested by McClennen. I argue that my restricted approach is superior for a theory of the practical rationality of reflective, planning agents like us. But I also conjecture that an unrestricted two-tier consequentialism may be more appropriate for the AI project of specifying a high level architecture for a resource-bounded planner. (shrink)
What happens to our conception of mind and rational agency when we take seriously future-directed intentions and plans and their roles as inputs into further practical reasoning? The author's initial efforts in responding to this question resulted in a series of papers that he wrote during the early 1980s. In this book, Bratman develops further some of the main themes of these essays and also explores a variety of related ideas and issues. He develops a planning theory of intention. Intentions (...) are treated as elements of partial plans of action. These plans play basic roles in practical reasoning, roles that support the organization of our activities over time and socially. Bratman explores the impact of this approach on a wide range of issues, including the relation between intention and intentional action, and the distinction between intended and expected effects of what one intends. (shrink)
In a case of weak-willed action the agent acts-freely, deliberately, and for a reason-in a way contrary to his best judgment, even though he thinks he could act in accordance with his best judgment. The possibility of such actions has posed one problem in moral philosophy, the exact nature of the problem it poses another. In this essay I offer an answer to the latter problem: an explanation of why a plausible account of free, deliberate and purposive action seems to (...) preclude the possibility of weak-willed action. I then try to resolve the first problem by developing this account in a way which allows for this possibility. The possibility of weak-willed action is made problematic by an account which sees free, deliberate and purposive action as involving the conclusion of a piece of practical reasoning. Solving the problem does not require us to abandon this conception but, rather, to notice certain special features of the relation between premises and conclusion in such reasoning. (shrink)