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Publication Details

Intentions and Agency

(Original title: Intentions and Agency)
Filozofia, 64 (2009), 8, 739-747.
Type of work: Pohľad za hranice
Publication language: English

n my paper I investigate Harry G. Frankfurt’s philosophy of action from the point of view of the concept of intentionality in action. Many influential philosophers of action assume that agents have a separate faculty to form intentions. Most notably, Michael E. Bratman, David J. Velleman and Gary Watson claim that this ability is centrally important to our ability to act. To be agents, it seems to be necessary to actively influence our behavior, and intentions play a significant role in this process. However, very controversially, Frankfurt’s philosophy seems to imply that we do not have a separate ability to form intentions. Rather, our intentions are reducible to a certain type of complex desires. So it seems that in the same way as he reduces reason to desires (most notably in his book The Reasons of Love), he reduces our ability to form intentions to a special way of desiring as well. In the paper I discuss some difficulties of this view, and I try to point out some advantages of the contrary view according to which we have a separate faculty to actively form intentions.


Philosophy of action, Intentions as complex desires, Ability to act

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