Self‐Defeating Goals

Dialectica 70 (4):491-512 (2016)
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Abstract

The typical function of goals is to regulate action in a way that furthers goal achievement. Goals are typically set on the assumption that they will help bring the agent closer to the desired state of affairs. However, sometimes endorsement of a goal, or the processes by which the goal is set, can obstruct its achievement. When this happens, the goal is self-defeating. Self-defeating goals are common in both private and social decision-making but have not received much attention by decision theorists. In this paper, we investigate different variants of three major types of self-defeating mechanisms: The goal can be an obstacle to its own fulfilment, goal-setting activities can impede goal achievement, and disclosure of the goal can interfere with its attainment. Different strategies against self-defeasance are tentatively explored, and their efficiency against different types of self-defeasance is investigated.

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Author Profiles

John Cantwell
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
Sven Ove Hansson
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

Citations of this work

Uncertainty and Control.Sven Ove Hansson - 2017 - Diametros 53:50-59.

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Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Collective Intentions and Actions.John Searle - 1990 - In Philip R. Cohen Jerry Morgan & Martha Pollack (eds.), Intentions in Communication. MIT Press. pp. 401-415.
The Nature of Rationality.Robert Nozick - 1994 - Princeton University Press.
Shared Cooperative Activity.Michael E. Bratman - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):327-341.

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