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On the Normativity of Intentions

Research paper by Bruno Verbeek

Indexed on: 27 Nov '13Published on: 27 Nov '13Published in: Topoi



Abstract

Suppose you intend now to φ at some future time t. However, when t has come you do not φ. Something has gone wrong. This failing is not just a causal but also a normative failing. This raises the question how to characterize this failing. I discuss three alternative views. On the first view, the fact that you do not execute your intention to φ is blameworthy only if the balance of reasons pointed to φ-ing. The fact that you intended to φ does not add to the reasons for φ-ing at t. On the second view, the fact that you do not execute your intention to φ is blameworthy because you violate a requirement of rationality. Both these views have in common that they deny that intending to φ at t creates a reason to φ at t. The third alternative, the one I defend, claims that you often create reasons to φ by intending to φ.