Brandom on Hegel and the Retrospective Determination of Intention

Hegel Bulletin 44 (3):446-471 (2023)
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Abstract

In this paper I examine Brandom's account of Hegel's claim that the content of an intention can only be determined retrospectively. While Brandom's account, given in Chapter 11 of A Spirit of Trust, sets a new standard for thinking about this topic, I argue that it is flawed in three important respects. First, Brandom is not able to make sense of a distinction that is central for Hegel, namely, between the consequences of an action that ought to have been foreseen by an acting agent, given the right of objectivity of the action, and unforeseeable consequences that are completely contingent. Second, Brandom incorrectly conceptualizes the disparity and unity that all actions display as temporally successive features of an action, rather than as speculatively identical features. Third, Brandom's account cannot make sense of cases of retrospective determination that involve self-deception, and this demonstrates that he misses something critical about Hegel's account of action, namely, that action is expressive of the logic of essence.

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Steven Levine
University of Massachusetts, Boston

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References found in this work

Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:321-332.
Self-reference and self-awareness.Sydney S. Shoemaker - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (October):555-67.
Hegel and the philosophy of action.Charles Taylor - 2010 - In Arto Laitinen & Constantine Sandis (eds.), Hegel on action. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

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