Philosophia

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 703–717 | Cite as

How to Respond to the Problem of Deviant Formal Causation

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Action Anscombe Deviant formal causation Double effect Intention Reasons 

References

  1. Alvarez, M., & Hyman, J. (1998). Agents and their actions. Philosophy, 73(284), 219–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). Modern moral philosophy. Philosophy, 33(124), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1961). War and murder. In W. Stein (Ed.), Nuclear weapons: A catholic response (pp. 43–62). London: Merlin.Google Scholar
  4. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1982). Medalist’s address: action, intention, and double effect. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 56, 12–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anscombe, G. E. M. (2000). Intention (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Davidson, D. (2001). Agency Repr. In Davidson (Ed.), Essays on actions and events (2nd ed., pp. 43–62). Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. McCann, H. (1974). Volition and basic action. Philosophical Review, 83(4), 451–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McDowell, J. (2010). What is the content of an intention in action? Ratio, 23(4), 415–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Moran, R. (2004). Anscombe on practical knowledge. In J. Hyman & H. Steward (Eds.), Agency and action (pp. 43–68). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Moran, R., & Stone, M. (2011). Anscombe on expression of intention: An exegesis. In A. Ford, J. Hornsby, & F. Stoutland (Eds.), Essays on Anscombe’s intention (pp. 33–75). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Paul, S. (2011). Deviant formal causation. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 5(3).Google Scholar
  12. Scanlon, T. M. (2008). Moral dimensions: Permissibility, meaning and blame. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Thompson, M. (2008). Life and action: Elementary structures of practice and practical thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Van Miltenburg, N. (2012). Practical knowledge and foreseen side effects. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. http://www.jesp.org/articles/download/practicalknowledge.pdf. Accessed January 2012.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations