What happens to our conception of mind and rational agency when we take seriously future-directed intentions and plans and their roles as inputs into further practical reasoning? The author's initial efforts in responding to this question resulted in a series of papers that he wrote during the early 1980s. In this book, Bratman develops further some of the main themes of these essays and also explores a variety of related ideas and issues. He develops a planning theory of intention. (...)Intentions are treated as elements of partial plans of action. These plans play basic roles in practical reasoning, roles that support the organization of our activities over time and socially. Bratman explores the impact of this approach on a wide range of issues, including the relation between intention and intentional action, and the distinction between intended and expected effects of what one intends. (shrink)
Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This paper provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue of representing outcomes; (...) but, unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interlock with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions. (shrink)
This paper argues that a popular account of intentions can be extended to beliefs. Beliefs are stable all-out states that allow for planning and coordination in a way that is tractable for cognitively limited creatures like human beings. Scepticism is expressed that there is really anything like credences as standardly understood.
In the literature of collective intentions, the ‘we-intentions’ that lie behind cooperative actions are analysed in terms of individual mental states. The core forms of these analyses imply that all Nash equilibrium behaviour is the result of collective intentions, even though not all Nash equilibria are cooperative actions. Unsatisfactorily, the latter cases have to be excluded either by stipulation or by the addition of further, problematic conditions. We contend that the cooperative aspect of collective intentions is (...) not a property of the intentions themselves, but of the mode of reasoning by which they are formed. We analyse collective intentions as the outcome of team reasoning, a mode of practical reasoning used by individuals as members of groups. We describe this mode of reasoning in terms of formal schemata, discuss a range of possible accounts of group agency, and show how existing theories of collective intentions fit into this framework. (shrink)
There has been a long-standing dispute in the philosophical literature about the conditions under which a behavior counts as 'intentional.' Much of the debate turns on questions about the use of certain words and phrases in ordinary language. The present paper investigates these questions empirically, using experimental techniques to investigate people's use of the relevant words and phrases. g.
Among philosophers, there are at least two prevalent views about the core concept of intentional action. View I (Adams 1986, 1997; McCann 1986) holds that an agent S intentionally does an action A only if S intends to do A. View II (Bratman 1987; Harman 1976; and Mele 1992) holds that there are cases where S intentionally does A without intending to do A, as long as doing A is foreseen and S is willing to accept A as a consequence (...) of S’s action. Joshua Knobe (2003a) presents intriguing data that may be taken to support the second view.1 Knobe’s data show an asymmetry in folk judgements. People are more inclined to judge that S did A intentionally, even when not intended, if A was perceived as causing a harm (e.g. harming the environment). There is an asymmetry because people are not inclined to see S’s action as intentional, when not intended, if A is perceived as causing a beneﬁt (e.g. helping the environment). In this paper we will discuss Knobe’s results in detail. We will raise the question of whether his ordinary language surveys of folk judgments have accessed core concepts of intentional action. We suspect that instead Knobe’s surveys are tapping into pragmatic aspects of intentional language and its role in moral praise and blame. We will suggest alternative surveys that we plan to conduct to get at this difference, and we will attempt to explain the pragmatic usage of intentional language. (shrink)
Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not _evaluative _considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by the hypothesis (...) that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.<b> </b>. (shrink)
Ethologists and others studying animal behavior in a spirit are in need of a descriptive language and method that are neither anachronistically bound by behaviorist scruples nor prematurely committed to particular Just such an interim descriptive method can be found in intentional system theory. The use of intentional system theory is illustrated with the case of the apparently communicative behavior of vervet monkeys. A way of using the theory to generate data - including usable, testable data - is sketched. The (...) underlying assumptions of this approach can be seen to ally it directly with theorizing in evolutionary biology, which has recently come under attack from Stephen Gould and Richard Lewontin, who castigate it as the Their arguments, which are strongly analogous to B. F, Skinner's arguments against point to certain pitfalls that attend the careless exercise of such thinking (and rival varieties of thinking as well), but do not constitute a fundamental objection to either adaptationist theorizing or its cousin, intentional system theory. (shrink)
For the first time, Robert Audi presents in Action, Intention, and Reason a full version of his theory of the nature, explanation, freedom, and rationality of human action. Ove the years Audi has set out in journal articles different aspects of a unified theory of action. This volume offers the unity of a single, seamless book with thirteen self-contained chapters, two of them previously unpublished, and a new overview of action theory and the book's contribution to it. The book is (...) divided into four parts, each addressing a major problem area. The chapters in Part One describe the motivational grounds of action, explicate desire, belief, intention, and volition, and give a distinctive account of their interconnections. In the second part, Audi sets out a theory of the explanation of action and argues that actions can be both law-governed and performed for reasons. The third part provides an account of free action and its relation to causation and responsibility. Chapters in the fourth and final part construct an account of rational action and its connections with practical reasoning, self-deception, and weakness of will. (shrink)
What are the most detailed descriptions under which subjects intend to perform bodily actions? According to Pacherie, these descriptions may be found by looking into motor representations—action representations in the brain that determine the movements to be performed. Specifically, for any motor representation guiding an action, its subject has an M-intention representing that action in as much detail. I show that some M-intentions breach the constraints that intentions should meet. I then identify a set of intentions—motor (...) class='Hi'>intentions—that represent actions in as much detail as some motor representations while meeting the constraints that intentions should meet. (shrink)
This article explores the question: what is it for two or more people to intend to do something in the future? In a technical phrase, what is it for people to share an intention ? Extending and refining earlier work of the author’s, it argues for three criteria of adequacy for an account of shared intention (the disjunction, concurrence, and obligation criteria) and offers an account that satisfies them. According to this account, in technical terms explained in the paper, people (...) share an intention when and only when they are jointly committed to intend as a body to do such-and-such in the future. This account is compared and contrasted with the common approach that treats shared intention as a matter of personal intentions, with particular reference to the work of Michael Bratman. (shrink)
Each of the following claims has been defended in the scientific literature on free will and consciousness: your brain routinely decides what you will do before you become conscious of its decision; there is only a 100 millisecond window of opportunity for free will, and all it can do is veto conscious decisions, intentions, or urges; intentions never play a role in producing corresponding actions; and free will is an illusion. In Effective Intentions Alfred Mele shows that (...) the evidence offered to support these claims is sorely deficient. He also shows that there is strong empirical support for the thesis that some conscious decisions and intentions have a genuine place in causal explanations of corresponding actions. In short, there is weighty evidence of the existence of effective conscious intentions or the power of conscious will. Mele examines the accuracy of subjects' reports about when they first became aware of decisions or intentions in laboratory settings and develops some implications of warranted skepticism about the accuracy of these reports. In addition, he explores such questions as whether we must be conscious of all of our intentions and why scientists disagree about this. Mele's final chapter closes with a discussion of imaginary scientific findings that would warrant bold claims about free will and consciousness of the sort he examines in this book. (shrink)
A full account of purposive action must appeal not only to propositional attitude states like beliefs, desires, and intentions, but also to motor representations, i.e., non-propositional states that are thought to represent, among other things, action outcomes as well as detailed kinematic features of bodily movements. This raises the puzzle of how it is that these two distinct types of state successfully coordinate. We examine this so-called “Interface Problem”. First, we clarify and expand on the nature and role of (...) motor representations in explaining intentional action. Next, we characterize the respective functions of intentions and motor representations, the differences in representational format and content that these imply, and the interface challenge these differences in turn raise. We then evaluate Butterfill and Sinigaglia’s recent answer to this interface challenge, according to which intentions refer to action outcomes by way of demonstrative deference to motor representations. We present some worries for this proposal, arguing that, among other things, it implicitly presupposes a solution to the problem, and so cannot help to resolve it. Finally, we suggest that we may make some progress on this puzzle by positing a “content-preserving causal process” taking place between intentions and motor representations, and we offer a proposal for how this might work. (shrink)
Intentional action involves both a series of neural events in the motor areas of the brain, and also a distinctive conscious experience that ''I'' am the author of the action. This paper investigates some possible ways in which these neural and phenomenal events may be related. Recent models of motor prediction are relevant to the conscious experience of action as well as to its neural control. Such models depend critically on matching the actual consequences of a movement against its internally (...) predicted effects. However, it remains unclear whether our conscious experience of action depends on a precise matching process, or a retrospective inference that ''I'' must have been responsible for a particular event. We report an experiment in which normal subjects judged the perceived time of either intentional actions, involuntary movements, or subsequent effects (auditory tones) of these. We found that the subject's intention to produce the auditory tone produced an intentional binding between the perceived times of the subject's action and the tone. However, if the intention was interrupted by an imposed involuntary movement, followed by the identical tone, no such binding occurred. The phenomenology of intentional action requires an appropriate predictive link between intentions and effects, rather than a retrospective inference that ''I'' caused the effect. (shrink)
Philosophers have proposed accounts of shared intentions that aim at capturing what makes a joint action intentionally joint. On these accounts, having a shared intention typically presupposes cognitively and conceptually demanding theory of mind skills. Yet, young children engage in what appears to be intentional, cooperative joint action long before they master these skills. In this paper, I attempt to characterize a modest or ‘lite’ notion of shared intention, inspired by Michael Bacharach’s approach to team–agency theory in terms of (...) framing, group identification and team reasoning. I argue that the account of shared intentions this approach yields is less cognitively and conceptually demanding than other accounts and is thus applicable to the intentional joint actions performed by young children. I also argue that it has limitations of its own and that considering what these limitations are may help us understand why we sometimes need to take other routes to shared intentions. (shrink)
This paper explores principles governing the rational balance among an agent's beliefs, goals, actions, and intentions. Such principles provide specifications for artificial agents, and approximate a theory of human action (as philosophers use the term). By making explicit the conditions under which an agent can drop his goals, i.e., by specifying how the agent is committed to his goals, the formalism captures a number of important properties of intention. Specifically, the formalism provides analyses for Bratman's three characteristic functional roles (...) played by intentions [7, 9], and shows how agents can avoid intending all the foreseen side-effects of what they actually intend. Finally, the analysis shows how intentions can be adopted relative to a background of relevant beliefs and other intentions or goals. By relativizing one agent's intentions in terms of beliefs about another agent's intentions (or beliefs'), we derive a preliminary account of interpersonal commitments. (shrink)
Accepting a promise is normatively significant in that it helps to secure promissory obligation. But what is it for B to accept A’s promise to φ? It is in part for B to intend A’s φ-ing. Thinking of acceptance in this way allows us to appeal to the distinctive role of intentions in practical reasoning and action to better understand the agency exercised by the promisee. The proposal also accounts for rational constraints on acceptance, and the so-called directedness of (...) promissory obligation. Finally, the proposal, conjoined with Cognitivism about intentions, addresses recent criticism of Scanlon’s expectation-based view of promissory obligation. (shrink)
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
People intend to do things, try to do things, and do things. Do they also will to do things? More precisely, if people will to do things and their willing bears upon what they do, is willing, or volition, something distinct from intending and trying? This question is central to the intention/volition debate, a debate about the ingredients of the best theory of the nature and explanation of human action. A variety of competing conceptions of volition, intention, and trying have (...) been advanced in the literature; it would be impossible to examine each thoroughly in a single paper. We can show, however, that the major functional roles ascribed to volition are nicely filled by a triad composed of intention, trying, and information feedback. Sections I and II below develop an account of the connection between intention and trying. Section III examines leading arguments for the existence of volitions and decomposes volitions into members of the triad just identified. (shrink)
Philosophical orthodoxy identifies weakness of will with akrasia: the weak willed person is someone who intentionally acts against their better judgement. It is argued that this is a mistake. Weakness of will consists in a quite different failing, namely an over-ready revision of one's intentions. Building on the work of Bratman, an account of such over-ready revision is given. A number of examples are then adduced showing how weakness of will, so understood, differs from akrasia.
Recent empirical work calls into question the so-called Simple View that an agent who A’s intentionally intends to A. In experimental studies, ordinary speakers frequently assent to claims that, in certain cases, agents who knowingly behave wrongly intentionally bring about the harm they do; yet the speakers tend to deny that it was the intention of those agents to cause the harm. This paper reports two additional studies that at first appear to support the original ones, but argues that in (...) fact, the evidence of all the studies considered is best understood in terms of the Simple View. (shrink)
How come we can represent Bigfoot even though Bigfoot does not exist, given that representing something involves bearing a relation to it and we cannot bear relations to what does not exist? This is the problem of intentional inexistence. This paper develops a two-step solution to this problem, involving an adverbial account of conscious representation, or phenomenal intentionality, and the thesis that all representation derives from conscious representation. The solution is correspondingly two-part: we can consciously represent Bigfoot because consciously representing (...) Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather instantiating a certain non-relational property of representing Bigfoot-wise; and we can non-consciously represent Bigfoot because non-consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather bearing a relation to conscious representations of Bigfoot. (shrink)
Ten years ago, one of us proposed a dynamic hierarchical model of intentions that brought together philosophical work on intentions and empirical work on motor representations and motor control (Pacherie, 2008). The model distinguished among Distal intentions, Proximal intentions, and Motor intentions operating at different levels of action control (hence the name DPM model). This model specified the representational and functional profiles of each type of intention, as well their local and global dynamics, and the (...) ways in which they interact. A core insight of the model was that action control is the result of integrated, coordinated activity across these levels of intention. Since the proposal of the model, empirical and theoretical works in philosophy and cognitive science have emerged that would seem to support and expand on this central insight. In particular, an updated understanding of the nature of sensorimotor processing and motor representations, as well as of how the different levels of intention and control interface and interact, allows for the further specification and precisification of the original DPM model. (shrink)
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
It is nearly 10 years since Patrick Haggard and colleagues first reported the ‘intentional binding’ effect . The intentional binding effect refers to the subjective compression of the temporal interval between a voluntary action and its external sensory consequence. Since the first report, considerable interest has been generated and a fascinating array of studies has accumulated. Much of the interest in intentional binding comes from the promise to shed light on human agency. In this review we survey studies on intentional (...) binding, focusing, in particular, on the link between intentional binding and the sense of agency . We suggest that, whilst it is yet to be fully explicated, the link between intentional binding and the sense of agency is compelling. We conclude by considering outstanding questions and future directions for research on intentional binding. (shrink)
Cognitivists about intention hold that intending to do something entails believing you will do it. Non-cognitivists hold that intentions are conative states with no cognitive component. I argue that both of these claims are true. Intending entails the presence of a belief, even though the intention is not even partly the belief. The result is a form of what Sarah Paul calls Non-Inferential Weak Cognitivism, a view that, as she notes, has no prominent defenders.
It is argued that intentionally omitting requires having an intention with relevant content. And the intention must play a causal role with respect to one’s subsequent thought and conduct. Even if omissions cannot be caused, an account of intentional omission must be causal. There is a causal role for one’s reasons as well when one intentionally omits to do something.
In this paper, I will discuss the various ways in which intentions can be said to be conditional, with particular attention to the internal conditions on the intentions’ content. I will first consider what it takes to carry out a conditional intention. I will then discuss how the distinctive norms of intention apply to conditional intentions and whether conditional intentions are a weaker sort of commitments than the unconditional ones. This discussion will lead to the idea (...) of what I call the ‘deep structure’ of intentions. Roughly, this is the idea that the conditional nature of our intentions is only partially made explicit in the expressions we use to communicate our intentions and in the explicit form of our thinking about and reasoning with them. Most conditions that qualify our intentions are part of a deep functional structure that can be evinced by observing the actual psychological functioning of intentions and by considering the rational requirements that they engage. I will argue that the deep structure of intentions is characteristically conditional. Genuinely unconditional intentions are only limiting instances of conditional intentions and their contribution to agency can only be understood in light of this fact. I will conclude by showing that the characteristic conditional structure of intentions is intimately related to distinctive features of human agency, especially to its unity over time. (shrink)
This paper offers an analysis of the logical form of plural action sentences that shows that collective actions so ascribed are a matter of all members of a group contributing to bringing some event about. It then uses this as the basis for a reductive account of the content of we-intentions according to which what distinguishes we-intentions from I-intentions is that we-intentions are directed about bringing it about that members of a group act in accordance with (...) a shared plan. (shrink)
The paper motivates a novel research programme in the philosophy of action parallel to the ‘Knowledge First’ programme in epistemology. It is argued that much of the grounds for abandoning the quest for a reductive analysis of knowledge in favour of the Knowledge First alternative is mirrored in the case of intentional action, inviting the hypothesis that intentional action is also, like knowledge, metaphysically basic. The paper goes on to demonstrate the sort of explanatory contribution that intentional action can make (...) once it is no longer taken to be a target for reductive analysis, in explaining other, non-intentional kinds of action and voluntariness. (shrink)
This paper constructs a theory according to which an intention is not a mental state but an action at a certain developmental stage. I model intention on organic life, and thus intention stands to action as tadpole stands to frog. I then argue for this theory by showing how it overcomes three problems: intending while merely preparing, not taking any steps, and the action is impossible. The problems vanish when we see that not all actions are mature. Just as some (...) frogs are immature frogs, some actions are immature actions. (shrink)
This paper gives an up-to-date account of we-intentions and responds to some critics of the author’s earlier work on the topic in question. While the main lines of the new account are basically the same as before, the present account considerably adds to the earlier work. For one thing, it shows how we-intentions and joint intentions can arise in terms of the so-called Bulletin Board View of joint intention acquisition, which relies heavily on some underlying mutually accepted (...) conceptual and situational presuppositions but does not require agreement making or joint intention to form a joint intention. The model yields categorical, unconditional intentions to participate in the content of the we-intention and joint intention (viz. shared we-intention upon analysis). The content of a we-intention can be, but need not be a joint action. Thus a participant alone cannot settle and control the content of the intention. Instead the participants jointly settle the content and control the satisfaction of the intention. These and some other features distinguish we-intentions from “action intentions”, viz. intentions that an agent can alone settle and satisfy. The paper discusses weintentions (and other “aim-intentions”) from this perspective and it also defends the author’s earlier account against a charge of vicious circularity that has been directed against it. (shrink)
According to William Alston, we lack voluntary control over our propositional attitudes because we cannot believe intentionally, and we cannot believe intentionally because our will is not causally connected to belief formation. Against Alston, I argue that we can believe intentionally because our will is causally connected to belief formation. My defense of this claim is based on examples in which agents have reasons for and against believing p, deliberate on what attitude to take towards p, and subsequently acquire an (...) attitude A towards p because they have decided to take attitude A. From the possibility of intentional belief, two conclusions follow. First, the kind of control we have over our propositional attitudes is direct; it is possible for us to believe at will. Second, the question of whether what we believe is under our control ultimately depends on whether our will itself is under our control. It is, therefore, a question of the metaphysics of free will. (shrink)
John Rawls claims that public reasoning is the reasoning of ‘equal citizens who as a corporate body impose rules on one another backed by sanctions of state power’. Drawing on an amended version of Michael Bratman’s theory of shared intentions, I flesh out this claim by developing the ‘civic people’ account of public reason. Citizens realize ‘full’ political autonomy as members of a civic people. Full political autonomy, though, cannot be realised by citizens in societies governed by a ‘constrained (...) proceduralist’ account of democratic self-government, or the ‘convergence’ account of public justification formulated recently by Gerald Gaus and Kevin Vallier. (shrink)
Moods are sometimes claimed to constitute an exception to the rule that mental phenomena are intentional (in the sense of representing something). In reaction, some philosophers have argued that moods are in fact intentional, but exhibit a special and unusual kind of intentionality: they represent the world as a whole, or everything indiscriminately, rather than some more specific object(s). In this paper, I present a problem for extant versions of this idea, then propose a revision that solves the problem but (...) also entrains an important change in our understanding of the nature of moods – and indeed of the nature of mind. What emerges is an intentionalist account that emphasizes the role of attitude rather than content in determining the character of moods. (shrink)
In order to be doing something intentionally, must one know that one is doing it? Some philosophers have answered yes. Our aim is to test a version of this knowledge thesis, what we call the Knowledge/Awareness Thesis, or KAT. KAT states that an agent is doing something intentionally only if he knows that he is doing it or is aware that he is doing it. Here, using vignettes featuring skilled action and vignettes featuring habitual action, we provide evidence that, in (...) various scenarios, a majority of non-specialists regard agents as intentionally doing things that the agents do not know they are doing and are not aware of doing. This puts pressure on proponents of KAT and leaves it to them to find a way these results can coexist with KAT. (shrink)
We shall formulate an analysis of the ordinary notion of intentional action that clarifies a commonsense distinction between intentional and nonintentional action. Our analysis will build on some typically neglected considerations about relations between lucky action and intentional action. It will highlight the often- overlooked role of evidential considerations in intentional action, thus identifying the key role of certain epistemological considerations in action theory. We shall also explain why some vagueness is indispensable in a characterization of intentional action as ordinarily (...) understood. (shrink)