Conditional Intentions

Noûs 43 (4):700 - 741 (2009)
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Abstract

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

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Author's Profile

Luca Ferrero
University of California, Riverside

Citations of this work

The Myth of Practical Consistency.Niko Kolodny - 2008 - European Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):366-402.
Proxy Agency in Collective Action.Kirk Ludwig - 2013 - Noûs 48 (1):75-105.
Plan B.Sarah K. Paul - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):550-564.

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References found in this work

Intention, plans, and practical reason.Michael Bratman - 1987 - Cambridge: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Philosophical papers.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock.
Problems of the Self.Bernard Williams - 1973 - Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press.
A philosophical guide to conditionals.Jonathan Bennett - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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