An intention to act? 

The law is very interested in intentions whether in terms of bequests, contracts or the motivation behind physical actions. Dr Hugh Burling led the Year 10 Athenaeum group on a fascinating philosophical journey  into firstly how we might describe any particular action (he used a violent action as an example) and then to consider the implications of such descriptions.

In terms of the description a “Natural Law” view emerged strongly, with the focus on intent, and indeed the law is often very pleased with this framework as indeed might be those who accept the idea of a just war, with the use of violent force legitimised in terms of the greater good it serves.

A student’s question about the ethics of boxing raised the issue of whether intent itself needs further clarification as the group considered to what extent one could subvert a duty of care to oneself. The latter of course lies at the heart of many medical ethical issues. Sadly, the clock ended what had been a most illuminating exploration into the world of descriptions. 

Shakespeare said in Hamlet “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” This is something the group might consider further when they return later this year to their study of authorial intent in literature, armed now with some sharper critical tools for so doing.