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toxin puzzle


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Puzzle in the philosophy of action, originally proposed by Greg Kavka (1947–1994). An omniscient or at least totally reliable benefactor offers you a million dollars if on Monday you can form the intention to drink a mild but unpleasant toxin on Wednesday. The intention is sufficient for getting the reward; on Tuesday the money will be in your bank, and there will be no other reason to drink the poison on Wednesday, and you know that this will be so. Can you form the winning intention? The puzzle puts pressure on the idea that ‘forming an intention’ can be treated as an independent action.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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