Essay about Consciousness and Intentionality of Action

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Consciousness and Intentionality of Action

ABSTRACT: One much discussed issue in contemporary philosophy is the relation between consciousness and intentionality. Philosophers debate whether consciousness and intentionality are somehow ‘connected’; whether we have reason to be more optimistic about an ‘objective,’ ‘scientific’ or ‘third person’ ‘account’ of intentionality than about an analogous account of consciousness. This paper is intended as a limited contribution to that debate. I shall be concerned only with the intentionality of action. Not everything which is true of intentionality of action is true of intentionality of other phenomena, such as beliefs. I shall discuss the question, ‘What is the intentionality of action?’
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I will discuss some instances of what I will talk about as "intentionality of action". This is, obviously, at best a limited contribution to the debate about consciousness and intentionality, since what is true of intentionality of action may not be true of the intentionality of other phenomena, such as beliefs.

I will formulate a question about what needs to be true for a certain intentional action to take place, and I will discuss an answer to the question. The answer is that a necessary condition of an agent performing a certain intentional action is that the agent is conscious of performing that action. It seems to me that many contemporary philosophers would deny or have reservations about this answer. I shall outline an inquiry into what is involved in this resistance. I shall also say something by way of evaluation of the resistance.

The Consciousness Thesis of intentionality of action

Consider an example of intentional action. Suppose a person is walking about a meadow. After a while he picks up a flower. (1) So far as this description of the event goes, at least a couple of different intentional actions may have taken place. It may be that the person was searching for a flower, and found what he searched for. Alternatively, it may be that the person was searching for a plant exceeding a certain length, and found what he was searching for. Or again, he may have walked around thinking about a
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