This Independent Study thesis is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 provides contextualization for and an interpretation of Anscombe’s claim—dubbed the “cognition condition”—that agents know what intentional actions they are performing without observation. I criticize several interpretations of Anscombe’s conceptions of observation, observational knowledge, and non-observational knowledge, provided by Pickard (2004), Harcourt (2008), and McDowell (2011), and provide a more charitable and better textually supported interpretation. Chapter 2 evaluates several arguments that can be used to target a strong, unrestricted formulation of the cognition condition, which include arguments issued by Davidson (1971, 1978), Setiya (2008), Velleman (1989), and Paul (2009). I conclude that only Davidson’s argument clearly forces a qualification of the cognition condition. Chapter 3 introduces what I call the “Paradox of Intentional Action Theory,” which threatens the truth of the cognition condition. I argue for a resolution of the Paradox that preserves it, drawing heavily on Setiya (2007, 2008, 2009). Chapter 4 provides a retrospect and commentary on the epistemological significance of the conclusions reached.


Riley, Evan




Epistemology | Other Philosophy | Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind


action, intentional action, intention, agency, practical knowledge, knowledge of action, epistemology of action, G.E.M Anscombe, Donald Davidson

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2021 Alex Fiander