Intentional Action and Knowledge-Centred Theories of Control

Philosophical Studies:1-21 (2022)
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Intentional action is, in some sense, non-accidental, and one common way action theorists have attempted to explain this is with reference to control. The idea, in short, is that intentional action implicates control, and control precludes accidentality. But in virtue of what, exactly, would exercising control over an action suffice to make it non-accidental in whatever sense is required for the action to be intentional? One interesting and prima facie plausible idea that we wish to explore in this paper is that control is non-accidental in virtue of requiring knowledge – either knowledge-that or knowledge-how (e.g., Beddor and Pavese 2021; cf., Setiya 2008; 2012 and Habgood-Coote 2018). We review in detail some key recent work defending such knowledge-centric theories of control, and we show that none of these accounts holds water. We conclude with some discussion about how control opposes the sort of luck intentional action excludes without doing so by requiring knowledge (that- or how).

Author Profiles

J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow
Joshua Shepherd
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


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