• Bob Ross
    1.4k


    That's not a definition of the concept of good: he just mentioned that it has been rightly (according to him) said that what is good is what everything aims at. That's an entirely different claim than what good itself is.

    EDIT: To elaborate more, to say that everything aims at what is good does not elaborate at all on what good itself is nor what is supremely good. Firstly, what can be supremely noted as good could be anything at all, and it could still be true that everything aims at it (depending on what it is); and Aristotle's statement leaves it an open-question entirely. Secondly, even if he would have elaborated on what is supremely good then it would still be an open-question what the concept of good refers to (e.g., if everything aims towards what is intrinsically valuable, then it is still an open-question--without further elaboration--what the concept of 'good' refers to even if it is good to aim at what is intrinsically valuable)

    Aristotle makes zero attempt to define what the concept of good refers to; but he alludes to what is supremely good being that which is aimed at (which is an allusion to intrinsic value).
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k
    I will leave it up to you when you want to stop the conversation. I guess I am more of a Hegelian than you are...
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    I will leave it up to you when you want to stop the conversation.Bob Ross

    I've made my case, you've made yours. Neither of us has been convinced. I think we're down to un-hunhs and nuh-unhs.

    I guess I am more of a Hegelian than you are...Bob Ross

    If I knew what that meant, perhaps I would feel insulted.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    Accidents are never intentional; but evolution doesn't operate on accidents.Bob Ross

    "Accidents are never intentional" needs clarification. An accident can be the unintended result of an intentional action. As the result of an intentional act, it is cause by intention, just like the intended goal is also the result of the intended act, and caused by intention. So, from the point of view of efficient causation, there is no difference between the accident, and the successful end. However, since the accidental effect is said to be unintended, we need another way to talk about this type of effect of an intentional act, so it's called accidental. Therefore we have two types of effects of intentional acts, those intended, and those not intended.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    If there is a foreseen effect to one's actions, then it is intentional. If it isn't foreseen, then I agree that it is accidental but that doesn't entail that it is intentional. So I am not following what you are contending with here.

    From what you said, it follows that accidents are never intentional; even if accidents can arise from intentional acts.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k

    I think it is a matter of two different ways of using the word, "intentional". In one sense, we say that an accident is not intentional. However, in another sense, when something is the effect of intention, we say it is intentional regardless of whether the effect is accidental.

    For example, I swing the hammer at a nail, and accidentally hit my thumb. The act of swinging the hammer was intentional, regardless of whether I hit the nail or my thumb. So whether the nail is hit or my thumb nail is hit, is irrelevant to the fact that the act which results in one or the other is an intentional act. So even though it is my thumb which is hit, the act which has that effect is intentional.

    What we have therefore is a separation between the act and the effect of the act. This is the separation between the means and the end. Both "means" and "end" refer to what is intended, but the effect of the chosen means (the act) is not necessarily consistent with the intended end, so the effect of the action may be unintended. Since the act is intended (swinging the hammer) yet the effect (hitting my thumb) is not intended, we must assume a separation between cause and effect, a lack of necessity in that relationship, to allow that the one is intentional and the other is not.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    However, in another sense, when something is the effect of intention, we say it is intentional regardless of whether the effect is accidental.

    Not necessarily. If the side effect is not easily foreseen, then we typically don't consider it intentional; or we might say that it was intentional insofar as the person was aware that there was a chance of it happening and accepting those odds. However, in the case that it is foreseeable or was foreseen (with high probability)(all else being equal), then I completely agree it was intentional: it as indirectly intended, which entails it was not accidental.

    You can't say some accidents are intentional: that's like saying some orange squares are not orange.

    For example, I swing the hammer at a nail, and accidentally hit my thumb. The act of swinging the hammer was intentional, regardless of whether I hit the nail or my thumb. So whether the nail is hit or my thumb nail is hit, is irrelevant to the fact that the act which results in one or the other is an intentional act. So even though it is my thumb which is hit, the act which has that effect is intentional.

    The hammer hitting your thumb was not intentional whatsoever prima facie in your example. The act of swinging the hammer, intending to bring about the end of hitting the nail into something, was intentional. Now, let's say you foresaw that the hammer might hit your thumb and new this with 20% probability and still decided to carry it out: we would say that you intentionally swung the hammer knowing it may result in an accident, but we would NOT say that you intentionally caused that accident. Now, let's say you foresaw with a 99% probability that you were going to cause the accident instead of what you really intend, then we might say you intended it because of the probabilistic certainty that you had of bringing it about. It depends though, because we might say you are just stupid and didn't realize that it doesn't make sense to carry it out with that high of a probability; or we might say you are unwise (unprudent) for doing it anyways out of (presumably) passion or desire to hit the nail.

    My main point is just that accidents, by definition, cannot be intentional. That's categorically incoherent to posit.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    My main point is just that accidents, by definition, cannot be intentional. That's categorically incoherent to posit.Bob Ross

    But is something accidental if it not only could have but should have been forseen? People manifest different degrees of "epistemic responsibility." Is there an objective standard separating accident from culpability?

    Unintended consequences are not necessarily accidental, only unforseen.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    That's not a definition of the concept of goodBob Ross

    Here's J. A. K. Thomson's translation:

    Every art and every investigation, and similarly every action and pursuit, is considered to aim at some good. Hence the good has been rightly defined as 'that at which all things aim'. — Nicomachean Ethics, I.1, tr. J. A. K. Thomson, Penguin 1976

    Here is W. D. Ross:

    The keynote of the Ethics is struck in the first sentence: ‘Every art and every enquiry, every action and choice, seems to aim at some good; whence the good has rightly been defined as that at which all things aim.’ All action aims at something other than itself, and from its tendency to produce this it derives its value. — W. D. Ross' Aristotle, Routledge 1995

    Secondly, even if he would have elaborated on what is supremely good...Bob Ross

    The Nicomachean Ethics is precisely this elaboration.

    Aristotle makes zero attempt to define what the concept of good refers toBob Ross

    Again, it's pretty clear that Aristotle does this at the very beginning of the book. You may take exception to his definition, but it is there all the same.

    Aristotle's definition straddles the line between "objective" and "subjective" and this rubs us the wrong way, but to fault him for involving what we call "subjectivity" in his definition would be anachronistic.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    Not necessarily. If the side effect is not easily foreseen, then we typically don't consider it intentional; or we might say that it was intentional insofar as the person was aware that there was a chance of it happening and accepting those odds. However, in the case that it is foreseeable or was foreseen (with high probability)(all else being equal), then I completely agree it was intentional: it as indirectly intended, which entails it was not accidental.

    You can't say some accidents are intentional: that's like saying some orange squares are not orange.
    Bob Ross

    I'm talking about things totally unforeseen. I agree that we do not commonly call them "intentional", but in the sense that they are the direct effect of the intentional act, just like the desired end is the direct effect of the intentional end, there is fundamentally no essential difference between them. That is why we are just as responsible for our mistakes as we are for our correct actions. Do you agree that you are responsible for your mistakes, as they are the results of your intentional acts?

    The hammer hitting your thumb was not intentional whatsoever prima facie in your example. The act of swinging the hammer, intending to bring about the end of hitting the nail into something, was intentional.Bob Ross

    I don't agree with this. The first premise is that the act of swinging the hammer was intentional. Do you agree? You claim that the effect of the act can be separated from its cause, to say that the cause was intentional but the effect was not intentional. The point being that when things are set in motion by an act of intention, and we allow that more than just the immediate act itself is intentional, that an effect is also intentional, then we need consistency, and say that all the effects are intentional.

    What we are talking about is misjudgment, mistake. The fact that a person misjudges the effects of one's actions does not make the effects any less intentional. It just means that the person made a mistake in judgement. A mistake in judgement does not remove intentionality from the act, nor does it remove intentionality from the effects of the act.

    Now, let's say you foresaw that the hammer might hit your thumb and new this with 20% probability and still decided to carry it out: we would say that you intentionally swung the hammer knowing it may result in an accident, but we would NOT say that you intentionally caused that accident. Now, let's say you foresaw with a 99% probability that you were going to cause the accident instead of what you really intend, then we might say you intended it because of the probabilistic certainty that you had of bringing it about. It depends though, because we might say you are just stupid and didn't realize that it doesn't make sense to carry it out with that high of a probability; or we might say you are unwise (unprudent) for doing it anyways out of (presumably) passion or desire to hit the nail.Bob Ross

    This does not make any sense to me. A judgement as to the probability of success of one's intentional acts, is not useful toward determining whether the effect of that act is intentional or not. Suppose I flip a coin, and the probability is 50/50. No matter what the outcome is, that outcome was intended, because I flipped the coin for the purpose of having an outcome, and the particular outcome which occurs is irrelevant to that intent. Likewise, when I make any intentional act, the goal is that the act will have an effect. It's true that I desire a specific outcome, like when I bet on the coin toss, but the fact that one outcome is more desirable than others, does not make that outcome more intentional than the others. Does it make any sense to say that when I bet on heads, if it lands heads, that was intended, and if it lands tails that was not intended?

    My main point is just that accidents, by definition, cannot be intentional. That's categorically incoherent to posit.Bob Ross

    I do not agree with this. I think that we simply misuse "intentional" to say that the desired outcome is intentional, and the undesirable outcomes are not intentional. Each effect is essentially the same, of the same type or category, the effect of an intentional act. It is inconsistent, and therefore incoherent, to say that one effect of the intentional act is intentional, and another effect is not intentional.
  • JuanZu
    120


    I cannot agree with the teleology of being. It is a form of preformism that in my opinion is already well refuted.

    To illustrate this, one can take the example of genetic transcription in biology: If we have a DNA sequence, this in itself does not possess genetic expression; it is only in its relation to the RNA and the process of transcription that something like an expression takes place. The idea here is that what we believe to be the prefigured result does not actually exist but only takes place in the relationship of the DNA to an other that interprets and translates it in its own way. The information of who we are is not in the genes, but, strangely enough, in the unprecedented process of transcription, interpretation, translation, etc., itself.

    In a similar way we can see ourselves: "I am I and my circumstances" (Ortega y Gasset), "Existence precedes essence" (Sartre). The end of our existence is never prefigured and is always about to happen, and it is to the extent that we develop in our circumstances that we become what we are. Nietzsche entitled one of his books as follows: "Ecce Homo: How one becomes what one is". We can say of ourselves that to a large extent we become what we are. We become. Which means that the end is not at the beginning (as teleological thinking presupposes).
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    n a similar way we can see ourselves: "I am I and my circumstances" (Ortega y Gasset), "Existence precedes essence" (Sartre). The end of our existence is never prefigured and is always about to happen, and it is to the extent that we develop in our circumstances that we become what we are. Nietzsche entitled one of his books as follows: "Ecce Homo: How one becomes what one is". We can say of ourselves that to a large extent we become what we are. We become. Which means that the end is not at the beginning (as teleological thinking presupposes)JuanZu

    Excellent point.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    But is something accidental if it not only could have but should have been forseen?

    Yes. No one would say I intentionally killed someone by drunk driving if they knew for certain that I genuinely did not foresee the serious possibility of killing or injuring someone by drunk driving. For example, a severely cognitively challenged person who gets their hands on some alcohol and ends up drunk driving probably isn’t capable of foreseeable the obvious possibility that they may injure or kill someone. In practicality, most people cannot get away with claiming they did not foresee it (because we do not believe them) or, if they can, we hold them responsible for their negligence (as opposed to their intentions).

    Unintended consequences are not necessarily accidental, only unforseen.

    What do you think an “intention” is? If a consequence of something intended is accidental, then it was unintentional: that’s what it means for it to be accidental.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    Your translations help clarify a bit. My translation says:

    Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action as well as choice, is held to aim at some good. Hence people have nobly declared that the good is that at which all things aim

    Which is, compared to your citations, a poor translation (apparently). Irregardless, if I take it that his second sentence is a definition (and not an assertion that about what nobility think), then:

    1. He is defining what he thinks the good is, and not what good is itself. 'The good' refers to what is supremely and ultimately good, which he seems to be claiming is whatever all things aim at. This is not a definition of the concept of 'good'.

    2. If I assume he means to define "good", as opposed to "the good", as "that which all things aim at", then this seems like an incredibly inadequate definition. Firstly, there seem to clearly, even by Aristotle's own admission, be things which agents aim at which are good but are not universally aimed at by all agents (e.g., pleasure). Secondly, if "good = that which all things aim at" then when someone says "well-being is good" they are saying "well-being is something that all things aim at" which is both false and does not capture the essence of what they are trying to express with the word "good".
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Which is, compared to your citations, a poor translation (apparently). Irregardless, if I take it that his second sentence is a definition (and not an assertion that about what nobility think), then:Bob Ross

    I don't think yours is a bad translation. The point is that Aristotle is setting out the meaning (or at least his working meaning) of 'good' in that phrase. In colloquial terms this is a kind of definition. Scholars will argue whether it is a properly Aristotelian definition, or whether it should be translated into English as 'definition'. Regardless of those debates, Aristotle won't take up the use of a central term without giving some kind of explanation of what he means by it, and that is where he does this with 'good'.

    'The good' refers to what is supremely and ultimately goodBob Ross

    But this is where Aristotle disagrees with Plato. Aristotle thinks there is no Platonic Form of the Good.

    If I assume he means to define "good", as opposed to "the good", as "that which all things aim at", then this seems like an incredibly inadequate definition...Bob Ross

    I mostly want to save this debate for another day. What I will say is that 'good' is notoriously difficult to define, and that Aquinas goes about the psychological angle in this way:

    Now as "being" is the first thing that falls under the apprehension simply, so "good" is the first thing that falls under the apprehension of the practical reason, which is directed to action: since every agent acts for an end under the aspect of good. Consequently the first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz. that "good is that which all things seek after."Aquinas, ST I-II.94.2

    The difficulty with defining 'good' is that it ignores our subjective/objective distinction and it can act as a grammatical modifier of pretty much anything.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    What do you think an “intention” is? If a consequence of something intended is accidental, then it was unintentional: that’s what it means for it to be accidental.Bob Ross

    If I push someone around because I am bigger and stronger, and that person then goes and pushes another because he is upset that I pushed him around and that third person then kills himself, there is arguably a causal link there. I think it is very salient to recognize that actions inherently transcend intentions in their scope. Hence Descartes' observation that the will is much wider in its range and compass than the understanding.

    It is completely unrealistic to envision that when we intend to do something the results will be exactly what we envision. Some corporations entire business model is structured around "externalized costs" - i.e. things that they cause to happen but don't happen to want to assume responsibility for.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    But is something accidental if it not only could have but should have been forseen?Pantagruel

    Yes. No one would say I intentionally killed someone by drunk driving if they knew for certain that I genuinely did not foresee the serious possibility of killing or injuring someone by drunk driving. For example, a severely cognitively challenged person who gets their hands on some alcohol and ends up drunk driving probably isn’t capable of foreseeable (sic) the obvious possibility that they may injure or kill someone.Bob Ross

    Note that the cognitively challenged person is not capable and therefore, for Pantagruel, would be causing an effect accidentally.

    In practicality, most people cannot get away with claiming they did not foresee it (because we do not believe them) or, if they can, we hold them responsible for their negligence (as opposed to their intentions).Bob Ross

    I think you two are talking past each other. Pantagruel is saying that we can at times be held responsible for unintended consequences. You seem to agree, and you rightly call this 'negligence.'
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    I agree that we do not commonly call them "intentional", but in the sense that they are the direct effect of the intentional act, just like the desired end is the direct effect of the intentional end, there is fundamentally no essential difference between them

    You just described the essential difference between them.

    You claim that the effect of the act can be separated from its cause, to say that the cause was intentional but the effect was not intentional.

    Yes, the cause and the effect can be separated in this way because, you are forgetting, intentionality is an idea (end) being aimed at; so it is entirely possible for a person to aim at something and completely or partially miss—like an an archer trying to hit their mark. If an archer misses and hits a deer instead of the bullseye they were aiming at, was killing the deer intentional? Of course not. If I take your position seriously, then it would be; because your view attaches the intentionality of an act to all causality related effects.

    The fact that a person misjudges the effects of one's actions does not make the effects any less intentional.

    Before we dive into this, I need you to define what you mean by “intention”; because you are using it in very unwieldy ways here.

    A judgement as to the probability of success of one's intentional acts, is not useful toward determining whether the effect of that act is intentional or not.

    The point is that what one knows is relevant to what one is aiming at.

    Suppose I flip a coin, and the probability is 50/50. No matter what the outcome is, that outcome was intended, because I flipped the coin for the purpose of having an outcome, and the particular outcome which occurs is irrelevant to that intent

    Sure, but that doesn’t negate anything I said. My point was that, e.g., you intentionally let a person die if you foresee that there is a 99% chance that the mere act of flipping the coin, which you intend to flip, will directly result in the death of a person. Was is intentional is not solely about the causation that occurs from a given act: it is more fundamentally about what the person is aiming at.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    To illustrate this, one can take the example of genetic transcription in biology: If we have a DNA sequence, this in itself does not possess genetic expression; it is only in its relation to the RNA and the process of transcription that something like an expression takes place. The idea here is that what we believe to be the prefigured result does not actually exist but only takes place in the relationship of the DNA to an other that interprets and translates it in its own way. The information of who we are is not in the genes, but, strangely enough, in the unprecedented process of transcription, interpretation, translation, etc., itself.

    This doesn’t negate in the slightest that we are biologically predetermined in various ways: which is just to say that our bodies have functions. Those functions dictate our design in a weak sense of Telos.

    Likewise, someone who wants to go for a strong version of Telos could say that evolution is a process ultimately with a design—but this is not something required for my position. My eye, even with everything you said, is designed to see; and to see in a particular way.

    "Existence precedes essence" (Sartre)

    This is the consequence of failing to see Telos in things—even in a weak sense. One resorts (typically) to radical individualism.

    Man clearly has an essence; and just because it isn’t eternal doesn’t change that. My eye is designed to see and in such-and-such a manner: does that mean that it isn’t undergoing a process of evolution, and partaking in a broader process of evolution as it pertains to procreation? Of course not.

    You are trying to go from “everything is transitory” to “nothing has an essence”.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k

    The point is that Aristotle is setting out the meaning (or at least his working meaning) of 'good' in that phrase

    I don’t think he is. I think he is clarifying what is most good and noting that goods are what we aim at.

    Even the first sentence would contradict his second sentence if I accepted what you are saying:

    Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action as well as choice, is held to aim at some good. Hence people have nobly declared that the good is that at which all things aim

    The first sentence clearly states that we aim at things that are good; which implies that there is a difference between aiming at something good and aiming at something bad; but if what is ‘good’ is just what we aim at, then there is no such distinction.

    But this is where Aristotle disagrees with Plato. Aristotle thinks there is no Platonic Form of the Good.

    I wasn’t suggesting otherwise: ‘the good’, in the sense Aristotle is using it in that sentence, refers to what is most good. ‘the good’ does not, as a phrase, exclusively refer to the platonic Form of ‘The Good’.

    I mostly want to save this debate for another day. What I will say is that 'good' is notoriously difficult to define

    It is clearly a bad definition, and I think it is clear Aristotle is not trying to define it there. The concept of ‘good’ is not identical to the concept of ‘aiming at something’ or ‘that which is aimed at’.
    Likewise, your quote of Aquinas does not define good as that which everything aims at:

    Consequently the first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz. that "good is that which all things seek after."

    He is just noting, rightly, just like Aristotle, that beings aim at perceived goods: no man aims at what is bad, except insofar as it is a means towards the good.

    The difficulty with defining 'good' is that it ignores our subjective/objective distinction and it can act as a grammatical modifier of pretty much anything.

    Does it, though? I would say the concept of good is identical to the concept of value.

    I think Aristotle is just using the concept of good and claiming that what is good for a thing is for it to be excellent at what it was designed to do.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    Just because something is caused by something done intentionally, it does not follow that that effect was intentional. You are forgetting or omitting that intentionality is about what is being aimed at---not what happens.

    If I am aiming with a bow an arrow at a bullseye target, and I miss fire and hit a deer of which I had no clue was somewhere behind the target; then I did not thereby intentionally hit the deer even though it follows from the causal chain which derives back to an intentional action. According to you, it would be intentional.
  • Bob Ross
    1.4k


    I think we are just disagreeing on what 'intention' is.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Just because something is caused by something done intentionally, it does not follow that that effect was intentional. You are forgetting or omitting that intentionality is about what is being aimed at---not what happens.

    If I am aiming with a bow an arrow at a bullseye target, and I miss fire and hit a deer of which I had no clue was somewhere behind the target; then I did not thereby intentionally hit the deer even though it follows from the causal chain which derives back to an intentional action. According to you, it would be intentional.
    Bob Ross

    You have misdirected my rebuttal by mis-characterizing it. Intentionality is not just about what is aimed at, it is also about what is the reason for a certain type of action. My point is that, whatever action you do, you are not always - not often - in a position where you can determine that exactly and only what you want to happen will happen. You may intend to help a co-worker get a promotion by doing some of his work for him. Only to have the boss discover you did it and give the promotion to you instead. Or, as I said, you may hit someone because you are mad at him. Then he goes home and hits his wife because, after a bad day, your blow was the straw that broke the camels back.

    Intentional causality is often done with an imperfect knowledge and therefore, even when it "works" often has additional unexpected effects. This is exactly what companies who choose to disregard "externalized costs" do. And it is a poor choice all around. If a company disregards externalized costs, then the explicitly choose not to manage the ongoing consequences of their actions. Which means that, the system in which they are involved (the ongoing project of exploiting resources for example) they have elected not to manage some of the results of their actions, the consequence of which can only be that that system can never be made stable (by their actions).
  • Paine
    2.2k

    Yes, the externalized cost model pays penalties as the price of doing business rather than changing behavior to avoid them.

    Another side of accidents that touches upon consequences well beyond our view is reflected in Aristotle saying there could be no science of them. That is oddly echoed in Chaos theory and the delicate efficacy of the butterfly effect. The big garden is not being tended.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Intentional causality is often done with an imperfect knowledge and therefore, even when it "works" often has additional unexpected effects. This is exactly what companies who choose to disregard "externalized costs" do.Pantagruel

    This is to ignore foreseen effects (and also to ignore foreseeable effects). Bob's point is presumably that unforeseeable effects are not intentional. The business you are talking about is intentionally ignoring a foreseen effect. The person who strikes out in anger is ignorant of a foreseeable effect, and therefore possibly guilty of negligence. An unforeseeable effect is a pure accident, and cannot be intentional. I still think you two are talking past each other.
  • JuanZu
    120
    This doesn’t negate in the slightest that we are biologically predetermined in various ways: which is just to say that our bodies have functions. Those functions dictate our design in a weak sense of Telos.Bob Ross

    I would say conditioned but not predetermined. As I said, predetermination implies foreshadowing, or rather, that assumes that the future is implicit in the past in some way. But that is undemonstrable and is easily refuted by people who are born with eyes and yet are blind. Did we say that their eyes had the Telos of seeing and not seeing? Then the prefigured nature of something is not something that can be verified other than a posteriori and is just a possibility. For example, we can say that the Sun will be extinct in X years exactly, that is a Telos that we understand, and we can do all the tests we want and that will not prove that it will be extinct in X years. Since thousands of things can happen that can make the Sun explode, what would happen to the Telos? Telos is a simple possibility, perhaps more minor plausible than others, but not a predetermination, neither an essence which can encompass all possibilities . You can say that the telos of life is to reproduce and survive. Do we say that people who do not want to have children have no life? And people who commit suicide? Thousands of similar examples can be proposed. The point is that you cannot take as a necessity that which is a possibility.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    unforeseeableLeontiskos

    There is no "standard" of foreseeability. Some people act carefully. Others act recklessly. Many people think that they know what they are doing and do not. We do not live in a world where we go around executing "transactional" events that are over and done with. It isn't realistic. It is an invalid abstraction to view intentional action in this "A causes B and over" sense.

    This is exactly the kind of false "insular causality" reasoning that leads to the debacle of externalized costs destroying the biosphere. Along with whatever other unfortunate accidents you'd care to add.

    :up:
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    There is no "standard" of foreseeability.Pantagruel

    Therefore...?

    Some people act carefully. Others act recklessly.Pantagruel

    How would you know, given your curious claim that, "There is no 'standard' of foreseeability"?

    Many people think that they know what they are doing and do not. We do not live in a world where we go around executing "transactional" events that are over and done with.Pantagruel

    Obviously.

    It isn't realistic.Pantagruel

    What isn't realistic? Constant ignoratio elenchus?

    It is an invalid abstraction to view intentional action in this "A causes B and over" sense.Pantagruel

    I don't think you've managed to understand what you are attempting to critique, because you surely haven't managed to contradict it. If you want to substantially disagree with the classical view of intention you will have to argue for the absurd conclusion that someone who causes an unforeseeable effect has intended that effect.

    This is exactly the kind of false "insular causality" reasoning that leads to the debacle of externalized costs destroying the biosphere.Pantagruel

    When you commit an equivocation by pretending that a company which intentionally ignores foreseen consequences is somehow supposed to be acting unintentionally, you are whipping up faux disagreement and enmity. The question is not whether some person or some company professes that an effect was unforeseen or unforeseeable, the question is whether it actually was.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Some people act carefully. Others act recklessly.
    — Pantagruel

    How would you know, given your curious claim that, "There is no 'standard' of foreseeability"?
    Leontiskos

    There doesn't have to be a standard for there to be a spectrum. There is no "standard" of colour, but there are lots of colours.

    I personally know lots of people that live their lives recklessly and whose "intentions" routinely cause all kinds of havoc and produce all kinds of "unintended consequences". One such person was directly responsible for the death of my fiance by being an unfit driver. I'm not inclined to pursue this further because it is so trivially evident. We are not masters of intentionality and causality such that we are capable of surgically creating only the results we intend. The consequences of our imperfect intentionality abound in the tragic mess that humans have made of their world.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
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    Of course not. If I take your position seriously, then it would be; because your view attaches the intentionality of an act to all causality related effects.Bob Ross

    Yes, that is what I am arguing. We ought to associate intentionality with the act itself, which is the means, rather than with the end. Intention is a cause, and what is caused is action. Within the mind, there is a process of reason which links the end to the means, and the decision is made that a particular act is required to bring about a specific end. So the relation between the means and the end is a product of the mind, and this may be mistaken.

    The convention (as derived from Aristotle) is to associate "intention" with the end. But when we analyze the nature of "an intentional act", we see that intention causes an act, which is understood to be the means to an end, and intention does not necessarily cause the end (as the case of mistakes). Therefore, we can establish a direct relation between intention, (as cause), and the means, but we cannot establish a direct relation between intention and the end. So despite the convention, which is to associate intention with the end, we'd have a more true representation if we associated intention with the means, instead.

    Before we dive into this, I need you to define what you mean by “intention”; because you are using it in very unwieldy ways here.Bob Ross

    I am using "intentional" to signify something which is cause by an act of intention. "Intention" refers to that part of a being which causes activity, which is commonly represented as the free will. This is slightly different from the convention, which associates "intention" with the aim, or purpose of a freely willed act. I am using it in this way, in an attempt to demonstrate that we can produce a better representation of the nature of intention, if we associate it with activities rather than the common convention which is to associate it with a thing intended.

    I referred briefly to human responsibility for one's acts and one's mistakes, because the fields which deal with these acts, morality and law, are more advanced in this subject. They recognize "intentional acts". Intentional acts are supposed to be acts which are guided by an aim, or purpose, directed toward an end, but since it's often difficult for an observer to identify the goal, we often do not require that in designating an act as "intentional" in the fields of morality and law. Plato would call the intended goal "the good" toward which the act is directed, and Aristotle termed it as "that for the sake of". This is the goal of the intentional act. Intentional acts then, are understood as directed toward those goods which appear to the mind of the being.

    However, this perspective runs into a problem exposed by Plato, and later discussed more extensively by Augustine. This is the question of how a man can know what is good, yet act otherwise. Quite often, the human mind apprehends a good, but does not act accordingly. This creates the issue of what exactly does direct the conscious actions which are not consistent with the apprehended good. The common explanation is that the actions are directed toward some other good. But such an "other good" is often not identifiable, and this is very evident in the case of habitual actions. So when we associate "intention" with "the good", end, or goal, we have a whole category of actions from conscious agents which cannot be classed as "intentional". These are actions of habit, and apparently random acts, which cannot be associated with any goal or end.

    That is the reason why I propose that we could obtain a better understanding of the acts of conscious agents if we associate intention directly with the act, rather than with the aim of the act.

    The point is that what one knows is relevant to what one is aiming at.Bob Ross

    Yes, knowledge and the aim are closely related. Reason, of some sort, tends to determine the aim, and even the goals of confused or "irrational" people are determined through some sort of faulty knowledge. The problem though is that many acts carried out are not consistent with any reasoned goal. This was the argument Plato brought against the sophists who claim to teach virtue, insisting that virtue is a type of knowledge. There is a definite separation between virtue and knowledge because virtue requires control over those habitual acts which are carried out without guidance from a reasoned aim, knowledge.

    Was is intentional is not solely about the causation that occurs from a given act: it is more fundamentally about what the person is aiming at.Bob Ross

    This is what I am disputing. You get that idea because the convention is to associate intention with the aim. But what I am saying is that this convention is based in a faulty description of intentional acts. When we stipulate, that to be intentional, it is required that the act is associated with an end, then we leave a whole lot of actions of the conscious agent which cannot be categorized. They are not caused by determinist causes, nor are they directed toward an identified goal. So, I propose that we bring these acts into the category of "intentional", and this requires that we change the meaning of "intentional" to include acts which are not directed toward a specific goal.
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