Self-Forming Acts and Conflicts of Intention

Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (1):93-100 (2015)
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In this paper I examine Robert Kane’s account of a self-forming action (SFA), in which an agent makes dual efforts of will to form two incompatible intentions. In addition to the frequently raised objection to this account, that such dual efforts would be irrational, I discuss a further conceptual problem, that it does not make sense to speak of efforts to form particular intentions. I then propose an alternative model of an SFA, in which an agent deliberates and selects between two possible but incompatible intentions. Finally, I discuss some research on “conflicts of intention” in split-brain patients which suggests that in normal cases, SFAs do indeed involve such a selection between competing intention-possibilities, and that it is only in abnormal cases, when such selection is inhibited, that agents are led to make dual efforts of will.



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Leigh Vicens
Augustana University

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