Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Direct Intent

Quick legal term that's significant in how I see the world; I drew this kind of distinction sometime way back (I called it "blaming cause" as distinct from "plain cause", although the context was not *quite* the same), and later was delighted to find the legal term.

Traditional notions of intent are for an act A which may have results (B, C, D). In performing A, we may be doing it because we want +B, and we may be neutral or negative towards C and D; if someone is robbing a bank, they may want the money and not desire the risk of killing people or being caught, or if someone enters a relationship they may desire the closeness and companionship but not desire the risk of betrayal or the hassle of dealing with their partner's family. Still, people accept these things as packages, and they take the consequences (legal or otherwise) of the whole package if they intended the package.

Direct intent is an intent for a specific consequence or component of the act. Oblique intent is a lesser notion of intentionality for those accepted consequences for an act that are not the goal.

In law, for most purposes, oblique intent is enough to establish a mens rea. In philosophy, I don't think any guilt attaches to oblique intent, and that a direct intent standard constitutes the primary condemnation-type challenge to a perspective. This doesn't make preferences for policies with ugly "bundled" consequences wonderful, just that instead of condemning one should engage in standard usually-non-consequenced non-normative (with regards to the results/discourse, not the content) discussion over them.

This is another area where the "validating discourse" folk get it wrong. By insisting that people take stances for the maximal comfort of either everyone or the minority-of-the-week, they make demands that are incoherent, totalising, or both. Such demands cross a red line; they eliminate the possibility of mental pluralism without care for the strong justification and narrow application that should entail.


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