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AGENCY AND AWARENESS

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Abstract

I focus on the idea that if, as a result of lacking any conscious goal related to X-ing and any conscious anticipation or awareness of X-ing, one could sincerely reply to the question ‘Why are you X-ing?’ with ‘I didn't realize I was doing that,’ then one's X-ing is not intentional. My interest is in the idea interpreted as philosophically substantial (rather than merely stipulative) and as linked to the familiar view that there is a major difference, relative to the exercise of agential control, between acting on a conscious goal (even one the agent is not actively thinking about) and acting on a non-conscious goal (about which the sincerely ‘clueless’ response ‘I didn't realize I was doing that’ could be provided). After raising some doubts about the target idea, I consider the two most promising lines of defence. I argue that neither is convincing, and that we should reject the suggestion that the idea is properly accepted as a matter of common sense. Even absent any conscious goal related to X-ing and any conscious anticipation or awareness of X-ing, there is room for counting X-ing as intentional if X-ing is, or is appropriately related to, a non-conscious goal.

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