Let me go and try

Philosophical Explorations 24 (3):340-358 (2021)
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Abstract
This paper argues for a deflationary account of trying on which ‘x tried to ϕ’ abbreviates ‘x did something with the intention of ϕ-ing’, where ‘did something’ is treated as a schematic verb. On this account, tryings are not a distinctive sort of episode present in some or all cases of acting. ‘x tried to ϕ’ simply relates some doing of x’s to a further aim x had, which may or may not have been achieved. Consequently, the analysis of ‘x tried to ϕ’ adds nothing to our basic understanding of the nature of action or agency. The account handles examples of naked trying, trying without acting – for example, trying but failing to move when paralyzed – by construing ‘did something’ as a schematic verb for a broader class of purposive events than actions, subsuming inter alia the formation of intentions-in-action. It gives a technical sense to ‘doing with the intention of ϕ-ing’ so that it includes any doing that can be construed as for the purpose of executing the intention of ϕ-ing. This subsumes as a limiting case the formation of an intention-in-action to ϕ, which is for the purpose of executing that very intention.
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Archival date: 2021-08-14
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2021-08-09

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