## Friday, February 4, 2022

### Fixing an earlier regress argument about intentions

In an earlier post, I generated a regress from:

1. If you are responsible for x, then x is an outcome of an intentional act with an intention that you are responsible for,

where both responsibility and outcomehood are partial. But I am now sceptical of 1. It is plausible when applied to things that aren’t actions, but there is little reason to think an action I am responsible for has to be the outcome of another action of mine.

Maybe what I should say is this:

1. Any action that I responsible for has an intention I am responsible for.

2. Anything that isn’t an action that I am responsible for is an outcome of an action I am responsible for.

This still seems to generate a regress or circle. By (3), if I am responsible for anything, I am responsible for some action, say A1. This will have an intention I1 that I am responsible for. Now either I1 is itself an action A2 or an outcome of some action A2 that I am responsible for. In both cases, I am responsible for A2. And then A2 will have an intention I2 that I am responsible for. And so on.

How can we arrest this? I think there are exactly two ways out:

1. Some action An is identical with its intention In.

2. Some action An has its own intention In as an outcome of itself.

William said...

Perhaps intention formation is an act of sorts and is also its own intention of sorts, so the regress could stop at intention formation.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Maybe, but if I engage in an act of intention formation to form J, I don't think J is the intention *of* the act of intention formation. For I think I initiate an act of intention formation with a different intention, e.g., the intention to decide between J and K.

My current thought is that you can be responsible for an outcome of an act without being responsible for the intention behind the act, at least in the special case of the act of intention formation. For instance, I may just HAVE TO decide between intentions J and K. I engage in an act of intention formation with the intention to decide between J and K. I need not be responsible for the intention to decide between J and K, but when I come out with some intention, say J, then I may very well be responsible for that.

William said...

The act of intention in the above instance would be the act of deciding to come to a decision between J and K (concrete example: decide what color of gloves to buy). So the non-regress is at deciding to intend to buy the blue gloves versus intend to buy the red gloves, for example.

PRPortinho said...

Dear professor,

I think we cannot properly address this question through reductionism, as we dont know, and cannot know what is precisely an act and an intention. Acts and intentions are never objective.
The only objective thing we can imagine, that depends only on itself to exist, is reality as a whole. There is no part that can be truly objective.
I made a very distinct and different proposal about God's existence problem, using non causal logics.
Would be honored to send you a copy. Please let me know. Keep in mind that I wrote the book to convince atheists.
Thanks!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F2P8S3H