Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-s6gjx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T04:16:19.636Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Consistency Among Intentions and the ‘Simple View’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Steven Sverdlik*
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX75275-0142, USA


What is the relation between the intention to A and doing A intentionally? It is natural to suppose that the latter entails the former. That is, it is natural to accept what Michael Bratman has called the ‘Simple View’ of the relation between acting intentionally and having an intention. Bratman is one noteworthy writer who has denied that the Simple View is true. In the present paper I do not defend this view. I contend that one well-known argument that Bratman offers for thinking that the Simple View is false fails, in fact, to disprove it. If there are reasons for thinking that the Simple View is false, as I believe there are, they are not the ones that Bratman has offered. My discussion of Bratman also raises some more general questions about the principles governing the rational formation of intentions. I suggest that a special sort of example casts doubt on the tenability of a commonly accepted principle that Bratman, among others, utilizes.

Research Article
Copyright © The Authors 1996

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Bratman, Michael Intentions, Plans, and Practical Reason (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1987), 113–15 and fGoogle Scholar.

2 Bratman does remark that the consistency requirement is ‘defeasible’ in ‘special circumstances,’ but he does not specify what such circumstances might be (ibid., 32).

3 McCann, HughRationality and the Range of Intentions,’ in French, Peter Uehling, Theodore and Wettstein, Howard eds., Midwest Studies in Philosophy X (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1986) 191211Google Scholar

4 I am grateful for comments, criticism, and encouragement to Alfred Mele, Michael Bratman, George Wilson, an anonymous referee and my colleagues at SMU.