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Is a Purely First Person Account of Human Action Defensible?

Christopher Tollefsen
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 9, No. 4 (Aug., 2006), pp. 441-460
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27504416
Page Count: 20
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Is a Purely First Person Account of Human Action Defensible?
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Abstract

There are two perspectives available from which to understand an agent's intention in acting. The first is the perspective of the acting agent: what did she take to be her end, and the means necessary to achieve that end? The other is a third person perspective that is attentive to causal or conceptual relations: was some causal outcome of the agent's action sufficiently close, or so conceptually related, to what the agent did that it should be considered part of her intention? Recent goods based views in ethics are divided as to whether only the first person perspective, or a mix of both perspectives, are necessary to understand intention and action. But resolution of the issue is necessary if goods based views are to be able to deploy to principle of double effect; for that principle requires an account of how to distinguish what is genuinely a matter of intention in human action from what is not. I argue that the pure first person account is better than the mixed account.

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