Flat intentions – crazy dispositions?

Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):54-69 (2017)
Jens Gillessen
University of Marburg
Future-directed intentions, it is widely held, involve behavioral dispositions. But of what kind? Suppose you now intend to Φ at future time t. Are you thereby now disposed to Φ at t no matter what? If so, your intention disposes you to Φ even if around t you will come to believe that Φ-ing would be crazy. And would not that be a crazy intention to have? – Like considerations have led Luca Ferrero and others to believe that only intentions with strong internal conditions are capable of rationality. This paper explores in how far a broadly dispositional view of intention supports their claims. Its first point will come as a surprise: Intentions indeed involve dispositions toward follies in plenty. Natural objections against this bizarre-sounding claim are shown to fail, and standard counterfactual analyses of disposition locutions are shown to underpin it further. However, since the dispositions at issue are pro tanto dispositions, the consequences are not as odd as might be expected: When hedged by reasonable habits to reconsider one’s intentions, dispositions toward follies do not entail any actual crazy behavior. On balance, unconditional intention is therefore found rational after all. Dispositions toward crazy actions need not be crazy dispositions.
Keywords intention  dispositions  counterfactuals  conditional attitudes  pro tanto states  Luca Ferrero
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2016.1246668
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