Philosophical Studies

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 159–176 | Cite as

The Deep Self Model and asymmetries in folk judgments about intentional action

  • Chandra Sekhar Sripada


Recent studies by experimental philosophers demonstrate puzzling asymmetries in people’s judgments about intentional action, leading many philosophers to propose that normative factors are inappropriately influencing intentionality judgments. In this paper, I present and defend the Deep Self Model of judgments about intentional action that provides a quite different explanation for these judgment asymmetries. The Deep Self Model is based on the idea that people make an intuitive distinction between two parts of an agent’s psychology, an Acting Self that contains the desires, means-end beliefs, and intentions that are the immediate causal source of an agent’s actions, and a Deep Self, which contains an agent’s stable and central psychological attitudes, including the agent’s values, principles, life goals, and other more fundamental attitudes. The Deep Self Model proposes that when people are asked to make judgments about whether an agent brought about an outcome intentionally, in addition to standard criteria proposed in traditional models, people also assess an additional ‘Concordance Criterion’: Does the outcome concord with the psychological attitudes of the agent’s Deep Self? I show that the Deep Self Model can explain a very complex pattern of judgment asymmetries documented in the experimental philosophy literature, and does so in a way that has significant advantages over competing models.


Experimental philosophy Intentional action Knobe effect Folk psychology 



Thanks to Joshua Knobe, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Nina Strohminger, Erica Roedder, Sven Nyholm, Angela Mendelovici, and audiences at the Moral Psychology Research Group and Princeton Moral Psychology Conference for invaluable feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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