Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 95, 2021

The Diakonia of Truth

Harrison Lee
Pages 225-239

Four Objections to a Broad Scope Theory of Intention

Proponents of “broad scope” theories of intention argue that agents cannot intend to achieve given ends without intending certain inevitable or probable consequences. I shall argue that some Thomistic variants of these theories collapse into the Expectation View (EV), i.e., that we intend to produce all of the consequences that we expect to result from our actions. I shall then raise four objections to EV. First, EV falsely implies that we intend to produce all of the expected beneficial consequences of our actions. Second, EV falsely renders altruistic self-sacrifice a species of suicide. Third, EV falsely implies that medical interventions with probable fatalities must involve intentional killing even when, of the available options, they offer the most likely prospects of long-term survival. Fourth, EV falsely implies that foreseeably fatal actions must involve intentional killing even when they will foreseeably prolong the agent’s life before killing him.