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Authors: Pacherie, Elisabeth
Title: Conscious intentions : the social creation myth
Online publication date: 26-Oct-2016
Language: english
Abstract: What are intentions for? Do they have a primary purpose or function? If so, what is this function? I start with a discussion of three existing approaches to these questions. One account, associated with Michael Bratman's planning theory of agency, emphasizes the pragmatic functions of intentions: having the capacity to form intentions allows us to place our actions more firmly under the control of deliberation and to coordinate our actions over time. A second account, inspired by Elizabeth Anscombe's theory of intentions, emphasizes their epistemic function and their contribution to self-knowledge. A third account, developed by David Velleman, suggests instead that the capacity for intentions may be an accident or a spandrel, that is, a byproduct of some more general and fundamental endowments of human nature. I argue that these accounts are at best partial and largely overlook two important dimensions of intention. I introduce and motivate a further pragmatic function of intentions, namely their role in the control and monitoring of ongoing action and argue that acknowledging the existence and importance of this function allows us to plug gaps in these accounts. I further argue that this pragmatic function of intentions plays a crucial role in contexts of joint action where agents must align their representations in order to coordinate their actions towards a joint goal. I speculate that a capacity for conscious control might have become established because of the role it served in solving inter-agent coordination problems in social contexts and because of the benefit conferred by the forms of cooperation it thus made possible.
DDC: 100 Philosophie
100 Philosophy
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:77-publ-550342
Version: Published version
Publication type: Buchbeitrag
License: in Copyright
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Citation: Open MIND
Metzinger, Thomas
Pages or article number: Kap. 29(T)
Publisher: MIND Group
Publisher place: Frankfurt am Main
Issue date: 2015
Publisher URL:
Publisher DOI: 10.15502/9783958570122
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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