Intention = Choice + Commitment

Philip R. Cohen, Hector J. Levesque

This paper provides a logical analysis of the concept of intention as composed of two more basic concepts, choice (or goal) and commitment. By making explicit the conditions under which an agent can drop her goals, i.e., by specifying how the agent is committed to her goals, the formalism provides analyses for Bratman’s three characteristic functional roles played by intentions [Bratman, 1986], and shows how agents can avoid intending all the foreseen side-effects of what they actually intend. Finally, the analysis shows how intentions can be adopted relative to a background of relevant beliefs and other intentions or goals. By relativizing one agent’s intentions in terms of beliefs about another agent’s intentions (or beliefs), we derive a preliminary account of interpersonal commitments.

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