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Michael Bratman's interests focus on philosophy of action and moral philosophy, including issues about the nature of agency, intention and practical reason, free will and moral responsibility, and shared agency. It is a way of explaining future-directed intention, and has been applied as a way of limiting time spent deliberating on what to do by eliminating choices inconsistent with current intentions. His work in those areas led him to the Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) model of human practical reasoning that is used in many areas, including artificial intelligence, today. Bratman is the Durfee Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy, and affiliated with the Symbolic Systems Program. In 2008, he was co-winner of the IFAAMAS Award for Influential Papers, which recognizes seminal contributions to the field of agents and multi-agent systems (also known as artificial intelligence).

Bratman’s first book, Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (1987), permanently altered the landscape of both the philosophy of action and the theory of practical rationality, by helping to draw philosophers' attention to the complex, constitutive roles that planning plays in rational agency. He is also the author of a collection of essays, Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency (1999). In addition, he has contributed to the debate on human agency, including how it relates to issues of self-determination, self-government, and autonomy, and recently published a collection of related articles in Structures of Agency: Essays (2007). His essays on shared agency have influenced recent work in the philosophy of law and in political theory. He is currently working on a book project about shared agency—what it is to act together—and the associated phenomena of shared intention and shared valuing. He is also at work on a series of papers on intention and practical rationality.

Key works

Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together. Oxford University Press, 2014 

Structures of Agency: Essays. Oxford University Press, 2007

Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency. Cambridge University Press, 1999

Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Harvard University Press, 1987. (Reprinted, CSLI Publications, 1999)

Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Eds. John Perry and Michael Bratman. Oxford University Press, 1986 (fourth ed., also with John Fischer, 2006)

Prof. Bratman in the News

July 14, 2014
By analyzing how people cooperate and make plans, philosophy Professor Michael Bratman creates a...
August 31, 2000
Stanford Magazine


  • Philosophy of Action
  • Moral Psychology
  • Agency
  • Intention
  • Cooperation
  • Practical Reasoning/Practical Rationality
  • Free Will
  • Moral Responsibility
  • Shared Agency
  • Philosophy of Law

Contact information


B.A., Haverford College, 1967
Ph.D., Rockefeller University, 1974