Impossible intentions

American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (4):319-332 (2021)
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Abstract

Philosophers are divided on whether it is possible to intend believed-impossible outcomes. Several thought experiments in the action theory literature suggest that this is conceptually possible, though they have not been tested in ordinary social cognition. We conducted three experiments to determine whether, on the ordinary view, it is conceptually possible to intend believed-impossible outcomes. Our findings indicate that participants firmly countenance the possibility of intending believed-impossible outcomes, suggesting that it is conceptually possible to intend to do something that one believes is impossible.

Author Profiles

John Turri
University of Waterloo
Wesley Buckwalter
George Mason University
David Rose
Stanford University

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