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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An agent's intention in performing an action is his or her specific purpose in doing so, the end or goal that is aimed at, or intended to accomplish. Whether an action is successful or unsuccessful depends at least on whether the intended result was brought about. Other consequences of someone's acting are called unintentional. However, recent research in experimental philosophy has shown that other factors may also matter for whether or not an action is counted as intentional. Intentional behavior can also be just thoughtful and deliberate goal-directedness.


In philosophy

G.E.M Anscombe made the topic of intentional action a major topic of analytic philosophy with her 1957 work Intention. She argued that intentional action was coextensive with action of which one could ask "why were you doing that?" In the sense that Anscombe meant her question, it was "refused application" by the answer "I was not aware that I was doing that," but not by "for no reason at all." Therefore Anscombe held that it was possible to act intentionally for no reason at all. She also claimed that intentional action was subject to "knowledge without observation."


Experimental Research

In recent years, there has been a large amount of work done on the concept of intentional action in experimental philosophy.[1] This work has aimed at illuminating and understanding the factors which influence people's judgments of whether an action was done intentionally. For instance, research has shown that unintended side-effects are often considered to be done intentionally if the side-effect is considered bad and the person acting knew the side-effect would occur before acting. Yet when the side-effect is considered good, people generally don't think it was done intentionally, even if the person knew it would occur before acting. The most well-known example involves a chairman who implements a new business program for the sole purpose to make money but ends up affecting the environment in the process. If he implements his business plan and in the process he ends up helping the environment, then people generally say he unintentionally helped the environment; if he implements his business plan and in the process he ends up harming the environment, then people generally say he intentionally harmed the environment. The important point is that in both cases his only goal was to make money.[2] While there have been many explanations proposed for why the "side-effect effect" occurs, researchers on this topic have not yet reached a consensus.

Related terms

  • In the philosophy of mind, intentionality is the property of being "about" something else, or to have some subject matter, in a certain way. Many states of mind, such as thinking about the pyramids, are characteristically about things (in this case the pyramids). Other things, such as words and paintings, can also have kinds of intentionality. Rocks and tables, in general, do not have intentional states.

See also


  1. ^ Adam Feltz. (2008). The Knobe Effect: A Brief Overview. Journal of Mind and Behavior. 28: 265-278.
  2. ^ Knobe, J. (2003a). Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language. Analysis, 63, 190-193
  • G. E. M. Anscombe, Intention
  • Donald Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

The intention is to create a dynamic learning material on occupational injury epidemiology and injury registers.

Sciences humaines.svg Educational level: this is a tertiary (university) resource.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

An intelligent purpose to do a certain act. In criminal cases wrongful intent must accompany the wrongful act in order to make the culprit punishable by law. While in the common law, when any wrongful act has been committed, it is inferred conclusively that the act was intentionally committed, in Talmudic law the intention must be clearly established, as well as the act itself. An innocent intention will excuse a wrongful act (see Ignorance of the Law), and a wrongful intention that failed of consummation, even though another crime was accidentally committed at the same time, is not punishable. For instance, one who intended to kill a certain man, and by mistake killed another, could not be criminally prosecuted (Sanh. 79a; Maimonides, "Yad," Roẓeaḥ, iv. 12). Similarly, if one, with the intention of killing a certain man, aimed a stone at a part of his body where a mortal wound could not be inflicted, and the stone struck a more delicate part, and caused death, the one that threw the stone was free from punishment (ib.). The right of Asylum, however, was afforded only to one who had had no intention of killing; in the cases mentioned above the homicide was not admitted to the cities of refuge, and the avenger of blood ("go'el") could kill him without being liable to punishment.

In civil cases, the law disregards the intention, and considers only the injury done by the act. One who injures another's person or property, even without intention, must make full restitution for the damage (B. Ḳ. 26a, b; "Yad," Ḥobel, i. 11-14, vi. 1); one need not, however, compensate him for the pain suffered ("ẓa'ar"), or for the services of a physician ("rippui"), or for the time lost ("shebet"), or for incident indignities ("boshet"). See Damage. An ox that gored a man unintentionally and caused his death, was not killed; but if the ox was known to have gored others ("mu'ad"), its owner was compelled to make compensation ("kofer") to the victim's heirs. For unintentional, non-fatal injuries committed by an animal upon any person or property, its master must make compensation equal to half the damage done (B. Ḳ. 43a, 44b; "Yad," Nizḳe Mamon, x. 9, 13; xi. 6). See Bequest; Consent; Devotion; Goring Ox; Hatra'ah; Kawwanah.

Bibliography: Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ. 378, 421; Mielziner. Legal Maxims, etc., Cincinnati, 1898; Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence, of the Ancient Hebrews, Baltimore, 1891.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
This article needs to be merged with Intention (Catholic Encyclopedia).
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