Faces of Intention

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Faces of IntentionSelected Essays on Intention and Agency

This collection of essays by one of the most prominent and internationally respected philosophers of action is concerned with deepening our understanding of intention and agency. In Bratman's view when we settle on a plan for action we are committing ourselves to future conduct in ways that help support important forms of coordination and organization both within the life of the agent and interpersonally. These essays enrich that account of commitment involved in intending and explore its implications for our understanding of temptation and self-control, shared intention and shared cooperative activity, and moral responsibility. The essays offer extensive discussions of related views by, among others, Donald Davidson, Hector-Neri Castaiieda, J. David Velleman, Christine Korsgaard, Harry Frankfurt, and P. F. Strawson. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students and will also be of interest to social and developmental psychologists, AI researchers, and game and decision theorists.

Michael E. Bratman is Howard H. and Jessie T. Watkins University Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.

C A M B R I D G E S T U D I E S IN P H I L O S O P H Y General editor ERNEST SOSA (Brown University) Advisory editors: JONATHAN DANCY (University of Reading) JOHN HALDANE (University of St. Andrews) GILBERT HARMAN (Princeton University) FRANK JACKSON (Australian National University) WILLIAM G. LYCAN (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) SYDNEY SHOEMAKER (Cornell University) JUDITH j . THOMSON (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

RECENT TITLES E. j . LOWE Subjects of ExperienceExplaining Attitudes LYNNE R U D D E R BAKER

ROBERT A. WILSON Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds BARRY MAUND ColoursMICHAEL DEVITT Coming to Our Senses

MICHAEL j . ZIMMERMAN The Concept of Moral Obligation MICHAEL STOCKER with ELIZABETH HEGEMAN Valuing Emotions SYDNEY SHOEMAKER The First-Person Perspective and Other Essays NORTON NELKIN Consciousness and the Origins of Thought MARK LANCE and JOHN O'LEARY HAWTHORNE The Grammar of Meaning D. M. A R M S T R O N G A World of States of Affairs PIERRE JACOBS What Minds Can Do ANDRE GALLOIS The World Without the Mind WithinF R E D FELDMAN Utilitarianism, Hedonism, and Desert In Defense of Pure Reason LAURENCE BONJOUR

DAVID LEWIS Papers in Philosophical Logic DAVID COCKBURN Other Times RAYMOND MARTIN Self-Concern WAYNE DAVIS ImplicatureDAVID LEWIS Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology Fiction and Metaphysics AMIE T H O M A S S O N


Michael E. Bratman




The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United KingdomCAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK http: //www.cup.cam.ac.uk 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA http: //www.cup.org 10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh, Melbourne 3166, Australia Michael E. Bratman 1999 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 1999 Typeface Bembo 10.5/13 pt. System Penta [RF]

A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Bratman, Michael. Faces of intention : selected essays on intention and agency / Michael E. Bratman. p. cm. (Cambridge studies in philosophy) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-521-63131-9 (hardcover), - ISBN 0-521-63727-9 (pbk.) 1. Intentionality (Philosophy) 2. Agent (Philosophy) B105.156B73 1998 128'.4-dc21 I. Title. 98-26459 CIP II. Series.

ISBN 0 521 63131 9 hardback ISBN 0 521 63727 9 paperback

Transferred to digital printing 2004

For Susan


Acknowledgments 1 Introduction: Planning Agents in a Social World PART ONE. ACCEPTANCE AND STABILITY 2 3 4 Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context Planning and Temptation Toxin, Temptation, and the Stability of Intention PART TWO. SHARED AGENCY 5 6 7 8 Shared Cooperative Activity Shared Intention Shared Intention and Mutual Obligation I Intend That We J

page xi 1

15 35 58

93 109 130 142

PART THREE. RESPONSIBILITY AND IDENTIFICATION 9 10 Responsibility and Planning Identification, Decision, and Treating as a Reason PART FOUR. CRITICAL STUDIES Davidson's Theory of Intention Castafieda's Theory of Thought and Action Cognitivism about Practical Reason Review of Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity Index 165 185

11 12 13 14

209 225 250 265 279



I have tried to acknowledge my many, many intellectual debts in each of the essays. I would like also to express my gratitude to a number of institutions for their support of my research. Some of my work has been generously supported by the Center for the Study of Language and Information. Several essays were written while I was a Fellow at the Stanford University Humanities Center. I learned much from discussions with participants in the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers that I directed in 1993. I made some progress while I was Olmsted Visiting Professor in the Yale University Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics. Most recently, a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences has provided the occasion for calm reflection needed to bring this project to completion. I am grateful for financial support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Throughout I have benefited greatly from the stimulation and support of colleagues and students in the Stanford University Philosophy Department. My deepest thanks go to my family - Susan, Gregory, and Scott. Without their support this book simply would not have been written. All essays other than essay 1 have been previously published. I have updated references, corrected an occasional stylistic infelicity, and have also made minor changes in essays 2, 6, and 10. Essay 7 has been substantially shortened and somewhat revised. Some of these changes have been made to decrease repetition. A good deal of repetition


remains, however. This is in part because I wanted to ensure that each essay continues to stand on its own, and in part because (with the exception of essay 7) I did not want to make large changes to essays that had already appeared and been the target of discussion. The notes in essay 10 have been renumbered to conform with the style of the other papers. In each case I am very grateful for permission to reprint the essays. The original locations of the essays are as follows: 2. "Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context," Mind 101 (1992): 114. By permission of Oxford University Press. 3. "Planning and Temptation," in Larry May, Marilyn Friedman, and Andy Clark (eds.), Mind and Morals: Essays on Ethics and Cognitive Science (Cambridge: Bradford/MIT, 1995), pp. 293-310. By permission of the MIT Press. 4. "Toxin, Temptation, and the Stability of Intention," in Jules L. Coleman and Christopher W. Morris (eds.), Rational Commitment and Social Justice: Essays for Gregory S. Kavka (Cam-

bridge University Press, 1998), pp. 59-83. 5. "Shared Cooperative Activity," The Philosophical Review 101 (1992): 327-341. Copyright 1992 Cornell University. R e printed by permission of the publisher. 6. "Shared Intention," Ethics 104 (1993): 97-113. Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press ( 1993 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.) 7. "Shared Intention and Mutual Obligation" is from "Intention Partagee et Obligation Mutuelle," in Jean-Pierre Dupuy and Pierre Livet (eds.), Les limites de la rationalite, Volume 1. Trans, by Joelle Proust (Paris: Editions La Decouverte, 1997), pp. 246266. By permission of Editions La Decouverte & Syros. 8. "I Intend That We J / ' in Raimo Tuomela and Ghita Holmstrom-Hintikka (eds.), Contemporary Action Theory, Volume 2: Social Action (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997), pp. 49-63. With kind permission from Kluwer Academic Publishers. 9. "Responsibility and Planning," The Journal of Ethics 1 (1997): 27-43. With kind permission from Kluwer Academic Publishers.


10. "Identification, Decision, and Treating as a Reason," Philosophical Topics 24 (1996): 1-18. By permission of Philosophical Topics. 11. "Davidson's Theory of Intention," in Bruce Vermazen and Merrill Hintikka (eds.), Essays on Davidson: Actions and Events (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 13-26. By permission of Oxford University Press. 12. "Castaiieda's Theory of Thought and Action," appeared in James E. Tomberlin (ed.), Agent, Language and the Structure of the World: Essays Presented to Hector-Neri Castaneda, with His Replies (1983), pp. 149-169. (Copyright by Ridgeview Publishing Co., Atascadero, CA.) Reprinted by permission of Ridgeview Publishing Company. 13. "Cognitivism about Practical Reason," Ethics 102 (1991): 117128. Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press ( 1991 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.) 14. "Review of Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity,y} Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (1998): 699-709. By permission of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.


1Introduction: Planning Agents in a Social World

We are planning agents. Our purposive activity is typically embedded in multiple, interwoven quilts of partial, future-directed plans of action. We settle in advance on such plans of action, fill them in, adjust them, and follow through with them as time goes by.