SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

On what planning intentions are made of: the role of inner speech in goal-attainment
(Philosophy of Mind, )

A There are several kinds of intentions, one of which is concerned with planning future actions (Bratman, 1997). These intentions are conscious, not only in the phenomenological sense, but also in the reflective sense: they involve thinking and reasoning about one's experiences. Unlike more short-term intentions, these seem to play a causal role with regard to our action, as argued by Slors (2015). For instance, if I plan to visit my aunt, my conscious intention disposes me to act toward that goal in the future. However, not much attention has been paid to the manner in which these planning intentions are formed. In particular, previous research has overlooked the important role of inner speech in forming planning intentions. Evidence for this aspect of planning intentions can be found in the experimental literature on intentions and effective goal-attainment (e.g. Gollwitzer, 1999). This research appeals to specific linguistic features of planning intentions in their methodology. In particular, this method is based on 1) the assumption that planning intentions should be made explicit and 2) the finding that these intentions are most effective when they have an if-then structure (i.e. "when I go to bowling practise I will visit my aunt afterwards")(Gollwitzer, 1997). This suggests that to the extent they cause our future actions, planning intentions are formed with the use of such cognitive tools as inner speech and visualisation. Therefore the conscious aspect of these intentions might not be very important in itself. More important is the manner in which these intentions are formed. Additionally, inner speech fits very well within the general framework presented by Slors, who argues that these intentions have a self-programming function. If we adopt this framework, intentions formed by inner speech do not cause our actions directly, but they provoke a change in our dispositions to act. The resulting function of inner speech is to facilitate unconscious thought processes that trigger the specified action at the appropriate time.

Chair: Ada Smurzynska
Time: 10:00-10:30, 11 September 2021 (Saturday)
Location: SR 1.005

Mathijs Geurts  
(Radboud University, Nijmegen, )



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