Anscombe and The Difference Rationality Makes

In Adrian Haddock & Rachael Wiseman (eds.), The Anscombean Mind. New York, NY: Routledge (2021)
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Anscombe famously argues that to act intentionally is to act under a description, and that “it is the agent's knowledge of what he is doing that gives the descriptions under which what is going on is the execution of an intention.” Further, she takes ‘knows’ to mean that the agent can give these descriptions herself. It would seem to follow that animals cannot act intentionally. However, she denies this, insisting that although animals cannot express intentions, they can have them. But how can we speak without equivocation of humans and animals acting intentionally while maintaining that linguistic expressibility is an essential characteristic of only human action? The human capacity for articulation, I argue, transforms animal intention in the following way: Whereas animal intentions are immanent in their behavior, human action is an actualization of the power to make judgments about what is to-be-done; this confers on human intentions a distinctive sort of independence from behavior.



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Eric Marcus
Auburn University

Citations of this work

Are humans the only rational animals?Giacomo Melis & Susana Monsó - 2023 - The Philosophical Quarterly (3):844-864.
Action.George Wilson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Skepticism about practical reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):5-25.
The Normativity of Instrumental Reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1997 - In Garrett Cullity & Berys Nigel Gaut (eds.), Ethics and practical reason. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rational causation.Eric Marcus - 2012 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Problems of rationality.Donald Davidson (ed.) - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
How knowledge works.John Hyman - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (197):433-451.

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