On Doing Things Intentionally


  • This research was supported in part by a Grant from the French Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) (ANR Blanche: SoCoDev). In addition to the comments by two anonymous referees for this journal, we are grateful to Elisabeth Pacherie for her comments.

Address for correspondence: Florian Cova, Institut Jean Nicod,

Ecole Normale Supérieure,

29 rue d'Ulm, 75005, Paris, France.

Email: florian.cova@gmail.com


Recent empirical and conceptual research has shown that moral considerations have an influence on the way we use the adverb ‘intentionally’. Here we propose our own account of these phenomena, according to which they arise from the fact that the adverb ‘intentionally’ has three different meanings that are differently selected by contextual factors, including normative expectations. We argue that our hypotheses can account for most available data and present some new results that support this. We end by discussing the implications of our account for folk psychology.