Hegel and Externalism About Intentions

The Owl of Minerva 41 (1-2):107-142 (2009)
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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