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Department of Philosophy

"Intentions and the Bootstrapping Objection" John Brunero

Abstract:   Some philosophers (Schroeder, Korsgaard) think that intending an end provides one with a reason to intend or take means to that end. Others (Scanlon, Chang) think that our intentions can make such a normative difference only in “tie-breaker” situations -- that is, situations in which there’s more than one option, each of which one has sufficient, but not conclusive, reason to pursue. Others (Bratman, Boome) reject these views since they allow for the implausible “bootstrapping” of a reason into existence.  However, doubts have been raised both about what the “bootstrapping” objection is, and about whether it’s a good objection to these views. In this paper, I present a novel version of the bootstrapping objection – one that targets both the intention-provide-reasons view and the “tie-breaker” view. I also try to deflect various arguments concerning rational deliberation that have been advanced in favor of the “tie-breaker” view.