Rational and Irrational Intentions: An Argument for Externalism

In Verena Mayer & Sabine A. Döring (eds.), Die Moralität der Gefühle. De Gruyter. pp. 163-174 (2002)
  Copy   BIBTEX


There is plenty of evidence, e.g. in mathematics, in the sciences, and in economics, that rationality is paramount to all other cognitive powers. There is further evidence that intentions are borne and originate in the mind. We therefore might be inclined to conclude that rational intentions are brought about in the mind internally by the best of all cognitive powers. In this case it would be enough to analyse mental representations which are antecedent to decision making in order to find the basic ingredients causing rational or irrational intentions. But there is neither evidence for representations of this sort nor for mental causes of rational intentions. It is true that intending is a mental state or act, but it would, indeed, be false to believe that intentions are produced or brought about internally, i.e., without reference to the external world. Some intentions seem to be irrational although their mental origin is not different from the origin of rational ones. I shall argue that this indifference of origin of rational and irrational intentions is due to the fact that intentions like all volitional attitudes - have external meanings. This implies that the criteria of rationality themselves are external to the mental activities of reasoning and intending. `External' here means that the contents of volitional attitudes are individuated by the objects they are directed to and not by the mental acts or performances of intending themselves. I shall further argue that the indifference of origin of rational and irrational intentions sheds light on the hybrid nature of rationality. For the sake of argument I shall use examples from the theory of choice. The gist of my argument is that intentional states enable us to choose mental acts, speech acts or non-verbal actions without reflecting alternatives beforehand.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,378

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

How Can Intentions Make Actions Rational?Joe Mintoff - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):331 - 354.
Rational Cooperation, Irrational Retaliation.Joseph Mintoff - 1993 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74 (4):362-380.
Conditional Intentions.Luca Ferrero - 2009 - Noûs 43 (4):700 - 741.
Intentions are mental states.Jing Zhu & Andrei A. Buckareff - 2006 - Philosophical Explorations 9 (2):235 – 242.
Scepticism About Reflexive Intentions Refuted.Maciej Witek - 2009 - Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 5 (1):69-83.
How to be a Cognitivist about Practical Reason.Jacob Ross - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:243-281.
The content of intentions.Elisabeth Patherie - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (4):400-432.
Intentions as Complex Entities.Marco Mazzone - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (4):767-783.
Agent’s Knowledge and First-person Authority.Stephen Voss - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 42:199-205.
Reasons and Intentions.Bruno Verbeek (ed.) - 2007 - Ashgate.


Added to PP

38 (#359,838)

6 months
2 (#638,860)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references