The Subjective Authority of Intention

Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):354-373 (2019)
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While much has been written about the functional profile of intentions, and about their normative or rational status, comparatively little has been said about the subjective authority of intention. What is it about intending that explains the ‘hold’ that an intention has on an agent—a hold that is palpable from her first-person perspective? I argue that several prima facie appealing explanations are not promising. Instead, I maintain that the subjective authority of intention can be explained in terms of the inner structure of intention. In adopting an intention the agent comes to see herself as criticizable depending on whether she executes the intention. This allows us to explain in first-personal terms why the agent becomes disposed to act and deliberate in ways that are characteristic of intention. As intention-formation involves profound changes to reflexive evaluative attitudes, this is the ‘Self-Evaluation’ view of the subjective authority of intention.
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