Diachronic Incontinence is a Problem in Moral Philosophy

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Is there a rational requirement enjoining continence over time in the intentions one has formed, such that anyone going in for a certain form of agency has standing reason to conform to such a requirement? This paper suggests that there is not. I argue that Michael Bratman's defense of such a requirement ('Time, Rationality, and Self-Governance'. Philosophical Issues 22 [2012]: 73-88) succeeds in showing that many agents have a reason favoring default intention continence much of the time, but does not establish that all planning agents have such a reason in every case of intending. I then defend an account on which such a reason is grounded in the need to maintain the capacity to commit oneself to a practical option. But although I think this applies more widely than Bratman's account, it is also not a reason that any planning agent has in every case. I tentatively conclude that although we have many good reasons to stick with our intentions once we have formed them, it is not required by rationality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-355
Number of pages19
JournalInquiry (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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