Can I Only Intend My Own Actions?

In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford studies in agency and responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. (1) 70-94 (2013)
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In this paper, I argue against the popular philosophical thesis---aka the ‘own action condition’---that an agent can only intend one’s own actions. I argue that the own action condition does not hold for any executive attitude, intentions included. The proper object of intentions is propositional rather than agential (‘I intend that so-and-so be the case’ rather than ‘I intend to do such-and-such’). I show that, although there are some essential de se components in intending, they do not restrict the content of intentions to one’s own actions. I then discuss the special way in which one’s own actions can figure in the content of one’s intentions, which shows that the distinction between intending and acting is less stark than it appears at first. This is a conclusion that many defenders of the own action condition might find appealing but which, I argue, is better supported by rejecting the own action condition.

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Luca Ferrero
University of California, Riverside


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