2.48 Intention

Category: Philosophy of Mind

Keywords: dream, freud, deception, dreams, intention, intending, intentions, intend, anscombe, arm, intentionally, dreaming, taylor, sleep, intends

Number of Articles: 293
Percentage of Total: 0.9%
Rank: 54th

Weighted Number of Articles: 247.8
Percentage of Total: 0.8%
Rank: 69th

Mean Publication Year: 1978.2
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1976.7
Median Publication Year: 1978
Modal Publication Year: 1971

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0609)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Promises and Imperatives (0.0265)
Topic with Least Overlap: Liberal Democracy (0.00055)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Mathematics (0.00037)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the intentiontopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1981 when 1.9% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1900 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.48 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.115: Intention.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Intentiontopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.8%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.7%. Ethics - 0.6%. Philosophical Review - 0.6%. Analysis - 1.4%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.6%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.9%. Philosophy of Science - 0.3%. Noûs - 1.0%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.0%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.3%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1971 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.6% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1900 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.116: Intention articles in each journal.

Table 2.110: Characteristic articles of the intention topic.
Table 2.111: Highly cited articles in the intention topic.


I’ve called this intention, but I might have been less misleading to call it Bratman studies. If you’re looking at work in English in the last few decades on intention, there are two people who seem like they can’t be left out: Michael Bratman, and Elizabeth Anscombe. And this topic certainly doesn’t leave out Bratman—as can be seen from the tables above. But it does leave out Anscombe.

Of course, it wasn’t asked to place Anscombe’s book Intention; we’re only doing journals. But there are a couple of articles that one might have hoped would be grouped together with these pieces.

Table 2.112: G. E. M. Anscombe, “Intention.”
Subject Probability
Ordinary language 0.3403
Promises and imperatives 0.2286
Causation 0.0952
Emotions 0.0794
Intention 0.0674
Reasons 0.0364
Abortion and self-defence 0.0318
Physicalism 0.0295
Time 0.0262
Minds and machines 0.0217
Table 2.113: G. E. M. Anscombe, “On Brute Facts.”
Subject Probability
Egalitarianism 0.3338
Intention 0.1458
Sense and reference 0.1371
Ordinary language 0.1099
Dewey and pragmatism 0.0716
Propositions and implications 0.0592
Wide content 0.0296
Origins and purposes 0.0291
Verification 0.0285
Duties 0.0237
Promises and imperatives 0.0227

In both cases it thinks about putting the article in this topic, but decides against it. That’s too bad. I’ll leave it for readers to decide whether putting such a sharp gap between Bratman and Anscombe’s work is a sign the model doesn’t understand philosophy, or that it understands it all too well.

Although there are some articles about Anscombe in this topic—just type ‘Anscombe’ into the search box above and it will return a few—the model puts none of her own articles in here. In general it doesn’t really feel like the model knows what to do with Anscombe. Here are the articles of hers that it analyzes, along with the topic they most probably ended up in and the probability that they are in that topic.

Table 2.114: Articles with author G. E. M. Anscombe.

There are a couple of articles that it is reasonably confident about; it knows that papers with “Anselm” in the title are going to have to do with the ontological argument, but mostly it isn’t very sure.

This topic also finds some of the articles that confused the algorithm on every single run of the model—articles about Freud. This is a tricky topic for the model because the Freud articles are so distinctive that it wants to put them together, yet they are so few that they never make a topic of their own. Over a bunch of model runs I saw the algorithm try putting the Freud articles together with just about anything one could think of. Here they ended up with intention. Don’t think too hard about why it might have done that; it feels completely random. The good news from my perspective is that for purposes of categorizing the topic I didn’t have to worry, since both Bratman-inspired work on intention, and Freudian influenced-philosophy both feel like philosophy of mind.