'He Asked for Water and She Gave Him Milk': On Fulfillment and Satisfaction of Intentions

Edna Ullmann-Margalit

In this paper I draw a distiction between fulfilling an intention and satisfying it. This distinction enables me to argue that, contrary to what is often assumed, intention is not a purely internal relation. I take this point, which goes against Wittgenstein, to be supportive - in an indirect but principled way - of Davidson's causal theory of reasons, or intentions. At the same time, however, the fulfillment/satisfaction distinction seems to allow for the possibility that an intention will be partially determined retroactively, by later events. If I am right that after-facts may indeed constitute, at least in part, the intention with which an action was performed, then this poses a problem for the causal theory of intentions, as well as for ordinary models of rational action.

June, 1997
Published in: 
In L.E. Hahn (ed.) The Library of Living Philosophers 26 (1999) The Philosophy of Donald Davidson 483-496