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An person's intention in performing an action is his or her specific purpose in doing so, the end or goal that is aimed at, or intended to accomplish. Whether an action is successful or unsuccessful depends at least on whether the intended result was brought about. Other consequences of someone's acting are called unintentional. However, recent research in experimental philosophy has shown that other factors may also matter for whether or not an action is counted as intentional. Intentional behavior can also be just thoughtful and deliberate goal-directedness.
In recent years, there has been a large amount of work done on the concept of intentional action in experimental philosophy. This work has aimed at illuminating and understanding the factors which influence people's judgments of whether an action was done intentionally. For instance, research has shown that unintended side-effects are often considered to be done intentionally if the side-effect is considered bad and the person acting knew the side-effect would occur before acting. Yet when the side-effect is considered good, people generally don't think it was done intentionally, even if the person knew it would occur before acting. The most well-known example involves a chairman who implements a new business program for the sole purpose to make money but ends up affecting the environment in the process. If he implements his business plan and in the process he ends up helping the environment, then people generally say he unintentionally helped the environment; if he implements his business plan and in the process he ends up harming the environment, then people generally say he intentionally harmed the environment. The important point is that in both cases his only goal was to make money. While there have been many explanations proposed for why the "side-effect effect" occurs, researchers on this topic have not yet reached a consensus.
Neurobiology of intention
G.E.M Anscombe made the topic of intentional action a major topic of analytic philosophy with her 1957 work Intention. She argued that intentional action was coextensive with action of which one could ask "why were you doing that?" In the sense that Anscombe meant her question, it was "refused application" by the answer "I was not aware that I was doing that," but not by "for no reason at all." Therefore Anscombe held that it was possible to act intentionally for no reason at all. She also claimed that intentional action was subject to "knowledge without observation."
- In the philosophy of mind, intentionality is the property of being "about" something else, or to have some subject matter, in a certain way. Many states of mind, such as thinking about the pyramids, are characteristically about things (in this case the pyramids). Other things, such as words and paintings, can also have kinds of intentionality. Rocks and tables, in general, do not have intentional states.
- Behavioral intention
- Belief-Desire-Intention software model
- Executive function
- Free will
- Intraparietal sulcus
- Intentional community
- Intentional learning
- Intentional stance
- Paradoxical intention
- Planned behavior
- Theory of planned behavior
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