A preface paradox for intention

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Journal article

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Philosophers' Imprint

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University of Michigan * Library


In this paper I argue that there is a preface paradox for intention. The preface paradox for intention shows that intentions do not obey an agglomeration norm. But what norms do intentions obey? I argue that intentions come in degrees. These `partial' intentions are governed by the norms of the probability calculus.

First, I give a dispositional theory of partial intention. Dispositions come in degrees. Intentions are dispositions. So the degree to which you intend to A is simply the degree to which you possess the dispositions characteristic of intending to A. Second, I use this theory to defend probabilism about intentions. Intentions involve some degreed dispositions. Degrees can be ordered from 0 to 1. So an agent's degree of dispositions involved in Aing can satisfy the probability calculus. I show that if they do not, the agent is irrational.

But this argument assumes my particular theory of partial intention. One might look for a more general approach. In the rest of the paper, I offer a decision theoretic argument for probabilism about intentions. I show that if an agent's partial intentions do not satisfy the probability calculus, then she violates a variety of plausible decision theoretic norms. These arguments extend `epistemic utility' theory from beliefs to intentions.



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Copyright © 2016 Simon Goldstein.

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Recommended Citation

Goldstein, S. D. (2016). A preface paradox for intention. Philosophers' Imprint, 16(14), 1-20.