Intention takes various forms. Must its objects be acts or activities? How much can be encompassed in the content of a single intention? Can intentions can have the content: to A for R, where ‘A’ ranges over act-types and ‘R’ over reasons for action, for instance to keep my promise? The question is particularly important on the widely accepted assumption that, for concrete actions (act-tokens) that are rational and have moral worth, both their rationality and their moral worth depend on the reason(s) for which they are performed. If intentions can have content of the form of ‘to A for R’, should we conclude that (contrary to the position of many philosophers) we have direct voluntary control of the reason(s) for which we act? If intentions cannot have such content, how can we intend to do, not just what we ought to do, but to do it with ‘moral worth’? This question is also raised by the idea that we can be commanded to treat others as ends in themselves – which presumably has moral worth. If the commandable is intendable, then, to understand commands and other directives, we need a theory of the scope of intention. This paper explores kinds and objects of intention, outlines an account of its scope, and brings out some implications of the account for moral responsibility.
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