, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 703–717

How to Respond to the Problem of Deviant Formal Causation


DOI: 10.1007/s11406-012-9398-x

Cite this article as:
Davey, S. Philosophia (2013) 41: 703. doi:10.1007/s11406-012-9398-x


Recently, a new problem has arisen for an Anscombean conception of intentional action. The claim is that the Anscombean’s emphasis on the formally causal character of practical knowledge precludes distinguishing between an aim and a merely foreseen side effect. I propose a solution to this problem: the difference between aim and side effect should be understood in terms of the familiar Anscombean distinction between acting intentionally and the intention with which one acts. I also argue that this solution has advantages over an alternative that has already been endorsed in the literature: it is a better fit for the Anscombean theory, and it naturally accommodates intuitions about the moral significance of aiming vs. merely foreseeing.


ActionAnscombeDeviant formal causationDouble effectIntentionReasons

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA