Intentions are Optimality Beliefs – But Optimizing What?

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    In this paper an empirical theory about the nature of intention is sketched. After stressing the necessity of reckoning with intentions in philosophy of action a strategy for deciding empirically between competing theories of intention is exposed and applied for criticizing various philosophical theories of intention, among others that of Bratman. The hypothesis that intentions are optimality beliefs is defended on the basis of empirical decision theory. Present empirical decision theory however does not provide an empirically satisfying elaboration of the desirability concepts used in these optimality beliefs. Based on process theories of deliberation two hypotheses for filling this gap are developed.