Anscombe on Intentions and Commands

Klesis 35:90-107 (2016)
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Abstract
The title of this essay describes its topic. I open by discussing the two-knowledges/one-object worry that Anscombe introduces through her famous example of the water-pumper. This sets the context for my main topic, viz., Anscombe’s remarks in _Intention_ on the similarities and differences between intentions and commands. These remarks play a key role in her argument’s shift from practical knowledge to the form of practical reasoning and in its subsequent shift back to practical knowledge. The remarks should be seen as framing her account of practical reasoning’s distinctive logical form: they motivate the need for the account, and they then are then illuminated by the account in order to resolve the two-knowledges/one-object puzzle. I tackle these exegetical issues over the course of the essay, but my goals are not limited to exegesis. I think there are lessons both in the philosophy of mind and in ethics to be gleaned from a close study of these remarks on intentions and commands. Intentions, we discover, must not be understood as self-commands; once we see why, we can better understand Anscombe’s rather cryptic dismissal of Kantian ethics in "Modern Moral Philosophy ." The essay closes on this last point.
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Archival date: 2017-09-14
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