The subject of "we intend"

Hans Bernhard Schmid

pp. 231-243


This paper examines and compares the ways in which intentions of the singular kind ("I intend") and the plural kind ("we intend") are subjective. Are intentions of the plural kind ours in the same way intentions of the singular kind are mine? Starting with the singular case, it is argued that "I intend" is subjective in virtue of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is special in that it is self-identifying, self-validating, self-committing, and self-authorizing. Moving to the plural form, it is argued that in spite of apparent differences, attitudes of the form "we intend" are subjective in the same way. The self-knowledge at work here is plural rather than singular. This supports a plural subject account of collective intentionality. It is argued that the worries sometimes raised in the literature against the metaphysical "spookiness" of plural subjects are due to a fundamental misconception of the way in which attitudes of either kind –singular and plural – are subjective.

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