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10 Comments on Clarke’s “Intentional Omissions” Carolina Sartorio Clarke argues for two main claims in his essay. The first is: (i) In order for an agent’s omitting to A to be intentional, some intention with the appropriate content (e.g., the intention not to A or a related intention) must play a causal role in the situation. This is the main source of disagreement between Clarke’s proposal and my proposal. I argued that, at least ordinarily, the agent’s omitting to intend to A (which is itself an intentional omission) causes his omitting to A, and that this is enough to explain why the agent’s omitting to A is intentional. There is no further need to say that the agent’s having formed a certain intention also plays a causal role (in particular, by causing his omitting to A). Clarke also argues for: (ii) The causal role the relevant intention plays in each case is that (or includes the fact that) it causes the agent’s subsequent thought and action. I’ll briefly comment on each of these claims. 1 Clarke’s Argument for (i) This comment is partly a request for clarification, since I’m not sure I understand exactly what Clarke’s argument for (i) is. Clarke doesn’t seem to have objections to my claim that, when an agent intentionally omits to A, the agent’s omission to intend to A causes his omitting to A. But, presumably, he thinks that this isn’t enough to explain why the agent’s omitting to A is intentional. For, he seems to think, such a fact would only explain why the omission to A is intentional if it were clear that the omission to intend to A is also intentional; however, it is hard to say what it is for an agent’s omitting to intend to act to be intentional (Clarke, this vol., chap. 9, 143–144 and n. 24).1 158 C. Sartorio I agree that it might be hard to specify precisely the conditions under which an omission to intend to A is intentional. But, surely, we can make sense of the concept of intentionally omitting to intend to act, and there seem to be some clear applications of such a concept. I will consider a couple. Take, first, an agent who is unaware of the presence of the child in the water. According to a broad conception of omissions that Clarke thinks is theoretically fruitful (one on which “there is an omission whenever an agent doesn’t perform a certain action that she is, in a relevant sense, able to perform,” 141), one of the things that the agent omits to do in this case is to form the intention to jump in (since she didn’t form the intention to jump in and, arguably, she was, in the relevant sense, able to do so). But, surely, her omitting to intend to jump in isn’t intentional (jumping in didn’t even cross her mind). By contrast, take one of Clarke’s characters, Diana. Diana is fully aware of the presence of the child but still, after deliberating about it for a while, decides not to save him and to continue to eat her ice cream on the shore. Again, according to the extant conception of omissions, Diana omits to intend to jump in. Is this omission intentional? Surely, it is: one of the differences between the two cases is that, although both agents omit to form the intention to jump in, Diana does so intentionally, unlike the agent in the first case.2 But, if Diana’s omitting to form the intention to jump in is intentional, and if her omitting to form the intention to jump in causes her omitting to jump in, then why is it that some intention of hers must also play a causal role in the situation, in order for her omitting to jump in to be intentional? 2 Clarke’s Argument for (ii) Clarke argues that, when Diana decides not to save the drowning child and to continue to eat her ice cream on the shore, her intention not to jump in causes her subsequent action of continuing to eat ice cream on the shore. This is an interesting proposal that would (if true) preserve the causal efficacy of negative intentions, and would also bring actions and omissions a bit closer together, as Clarke points out. I will argue, however, that some plausible assumptions...

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