The Metaphysics of Practical Rationality: Intentional and Deontic Cognition

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (4):549-568 (2021)
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Despite growing appreciation in recent decades of the importance of shared intentional mental states as a foundation for everything from divergences in primate evolution, to the institution of communal norms, to trends in the development of modernity as a socio-political phenomenon, we lack an adequate understanding of the relationship between individual and shared intentionality. At the same time, it is widely appreciated that deontic reasoning concerning what ought, may, and ought not be done is, like reasoning about our intentions, an exercise of practical rationality. Taking advantage of this fact, I use a plan-theoretic semantics for the deontic modalities as a basis for understanding individual and shared intentions. This results in a view that accords well with what we currently have reason to believe about the phylogenetic and ontogenetic development of norm psychology and shared intentionality in human beings, and where original intentionality can be understood in terms of the shared intentionality of a community.

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Preston Stovall
University of Hradec Králové

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