How We Know What We're Doing

Philosophers' Imprint 9:1-24 (2009)
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Abstract

G.E.M. Anscombe famously claimed that acting intentionally entails knowing "without observation" what one is doing. Among those that have taken her claim seriously, an influential response has been to suppose that in order to explain this fact, we should conclude that intentions are a species of belief. This paper argues that there are good reasons to reject this "cognitivist" view of intention in favor of the view that intentions are distinctively practical attitudes that are not beliefs and do not constitutively involve the belief that one will do what one intends. A theory is then proposed on behalf of Distinctive Practical Attitude views of intention to explain Anscombe's non-observational knowledge phenomenon. It is argued that intentions do not embody non-observational knowledge, but they do provide the evidential basis for it: we know without observation what we are doing by inferring from our intentions.

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Sarah Paul
New York University, Abu Dhabi

Citations of this work

Mental action.Antonia Peacocke - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (6):e12741.
Knowledge-how is the Norm of Intention.Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1703-1727.

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