, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 703-717

First online:

How to Respond to the Problem of Deviant Formal Causation

  • Stephen DaveyAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin Email author 

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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.


Action Anscombe Deviant formal causation Double effect Intention Reasons