How we know what we intend

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How do we know what our intentions are? It is argued that work on self-knowledge has tended to neglect the attitude of intention, and that an epistemological account is needed that is attuned to the specific features of that state. Richard Moran's "Authorship" view, on which we can acquire self-knowledge by making up our minds, offers a promising insight for such an account: we do not normally discover what we intend through introspection. However, his formulation of the Authorship view, developed primarily with the attitude of belief in mind, is found wanting when applied to intention. An alternative account is proposed for knowledge of one's own intentions that gives a central role to the mental act of deciding what to do. It is argued that we can come to know what we intend by making a decision about what to do and self-ascribing the content of that decision as our intended action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-346
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Belief
  • Intention
  • Self-knowledge
  • Transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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