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Planning and the stability of intention

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I sketch my general model of the roles of intentions in the planning of agents like us-agents with substantial resource limitations and with important needs for coordination. I then focus on the stability of prior intentions: their rational resistance to reconsideration. I emphasize the importance of cases in which one's nonreconsideration of a prior intention is nondeliberative and is grounded in relevant habits of reconsideration. Concerning such cases I argue for a limited form of two-tier consequentialism, one that is restricted in ways that aim at blocking an analogue of Smart's concerns about “rule-worship”. I contrast this with the unrestricted two-tier consequentialism suggested by McClennen. I argue that my restricted approach is superior for a theory of the practical rationality of reflective, planning agents like us. But I also conjecture that an unrestricted two-tier consequentialism may be more appropriate for the AI project of specifying a high level architecture for a resource-bounded planner.

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Bratman, M.E. Planning and the stability of intention. Mind Mach 2, 1–16 (1992).

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Key words

  • Intention
  • planning
  • practical reasoning