Wednesday, 7 December 2011

May I have your intention please

I want to find an article that deals with the following argument:

  1. The criminal law depends on folk psychology because it attaches importance to 'BDI' words like 'belief', 'desire' and 'intention'.
  2. Specifically, the law says that guilty verdicts can only be given when it can be proved to a high standard that a particular intention was present in someone's mind at a particular time.
  3. If we all agree to be naturalists, then we may as well accept that peoples' behaviour supervenes on the physical state of their bodies: the state of a man's mind is a fact about his digestive system blablabla 
  4. Even better, folk psychology and BDI words are generally ok, because theories that use BDI words are generally good ones. People who like tomatos and believe that they are in the fridge and intend to eat them often do so and vice versa blablabla
  5. Despite points 3 and 4, it is still unclear enough how to tell whether a statement of the form "Mrs R had intention S at time T" is true or not that one might say that it has never been established to a "beyond reasonable doubt" kind of standard.
  6. Therefore every guilty verdict ever was wrong.

So far all the articles I can find either offer reasons why 3 and 4 are true or spend loads of time going on about neuroscience experiments that do not address the question of what the truth conditions are for single-case intention ascriptions but instead introduce new irrelevant red herrings to do with consciousness.

Philosophers/lawyers/neuroscientists/internet-users: your help is requested!

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