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Conscious Will and ResponsibilityA Tribute to Benjamin Libet$
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Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.001.0001

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What Are Intentions?

What Are Intentions?

Chapter:
(p.70) Chapter 7 What Are Intentions?
Source:
Conscious Will and Responsibility
Author(s):

Elisabeth Pacherie

Patrick Haggard

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.003.0008

This chapter makes a distinction between prospective and immediate intentions. Many authors have insisted on a qualitative difference between these two regarding the type of content, with prospective intentions generally being more abstract than immediate intentions. However, the main basis of this distinction is temporal: prospective intentions necessarily occur before immediate intention and before action itself, and often long before them. In contrast, immediate intentions occur in the specific context of the action itself. Yet both types of intention share a common purpose, namely that of generating the specific information required to transform an abstract representation of a goal-state into a concrete episode of instrumental action directed toward that goal. To this extent, the content of a prospective and of an immediate intention can actually be quite similar. The main distinction between prospective and immediate intentions becomes one of when, i.e., how early on, the episodic details of an action are planned. The conscious experience associated with intentional action comes from this process of fleshing out intentions with episodic details.

Keywords:   prospective intentions, immediate intentions, action initiation, cortical simulation

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