Hegel and Externalism About Intentions

The Owl of Minerva 41 (1/2):107-142 (2009)
Authors
Aaron Mead
University of California, Los Angeles
Abstract
My aim in this paper is to suggest that intentions are, as G. E. M. Anscombe puts it, not exclusively “private and interior” act-descriptions that agents alone determine. Rather, I argue that the true intention of an action is frequently constrained, and sometimes even determined, by the intersubjective and retrospective view of an action. I begin by offering an interpretation of Hegel’s account of intention in The Philosophy of Right—an interpretation that fits well with work by Charles Taylor and Michael Quante, but not with a recent paper by Arto Laitinen. Next I offer examples that support the view—consistent with my reading of Hegel—that sometimes the intersubjective and retrospective account of an action trumps the agent’s prior subjective act-description. Finally, I suggest that the Hegelian view I sketch might be taken as a kind of externalism about intentions, on the order of externalism about epistemic justification.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl2009/2010411/228
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