Philosophical Studies 52 (3):309-329 (1987)

Alfred Mele
Florida State University
What is it, precisely, that an agent intends when he intends, as we might say, to clean his stove today? What is the content of his intention? In recent years, Gilbert Harman and John Searle have maintained that all intentions are self-referential -- that is, that an adequate expression of the content of any intention makes essential reference to the intention whose content is being expressed. I shall call this the self-referentiality thesis (SRT). Harman, in his paper 'Practical Reasoning', argues that "the intention to do A is the intention that, because of that very intention, one will do A". Searle, in his book, Intentionality, contends similarly that the "Intentional content" of an agent's "prior intention" to A identifies that very intention as a cause of the agent's (prospective) A-ing. In Sections 1-3 below, I show that the main arguments for the SRT are unsuccessful and that the thesis is problematic. In Section 4, I sketch an alternative account of the contents of intentions.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00354051
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References found in this work BETA

Rational Animals.Donald Davidson - 1982 - Dialectica 36 (4):317-28.
Practical Reasoning.Gilbert Harman - 1997 - In Alfred R. Mele (ed.), Review of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 431--63.
A Theory of Human Action.Alvin Ira Goldman - 1970 - Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Rational Animals.Donald Davidson - 1982 - Dialectica 36 (4):317-327.

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Citations of this work BETA

Can I Only Intend My Own Actions?Luca Ferrero - 2013 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Action and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. pp. (1) 70-94.
The Role of Intention in Intentional Action.Frederick Adams & Alfred Mele - 1989 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):511 - 531.
Meaning and Mindreading.J. Robert Thompson - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (2):167-200.
The Logic of Intention Reports.Thomas Grano - 2017 - Journal of Semantics 34 (4):587-632.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

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