Drafts on Mental Action and Epistemology
Practical Knowledge and Practical Concepts
Anscombe argued that all intentional action involves a form of special non-observational knowledge of what you're doing, which she called "practical knowledge." It's been difficult to vindicate any part of this claim, and even logically weakened versions of it fall prey to counterexamples. In this paper I show how we can vindicate a different version of Anscombe's claim by understanding the role of de re mental reference to ongoing mental action. I argue that you need to have a mental grasp of your ongoing action when you are acting intentionally. This grasp cannot be mediated by the concept used in the intention on which you are acting. Instead, it needs to be a grasp mediated by a practical concept of your action itself. Accepting this much helps us to see how you are entitled, by default, to self-ascribe the action you're performing.