[hist-analytic] Grice, "Disposition and Intention"
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jul 11 13:41:48 EDT 2009
Among the many unpublications by H. P. Grice that S. R. Chapman has
unburied for posterity is this "Disposition and Intention" which is discussed in
her biography of the man, and some excerpts of which I transcribe vis a vis
our continuing interest in the history of analytic philosophy (-- inspired
by S. R. Bayne's enthusiasm in the area and his seminal work on Anscombe).
"Grice circulated "Disposition and Intentions" among his colleagues just a
few years after he had written 'Meaning'"
That would be 1950.
I note that it has to be at least after Ryle 1949.
And I added a marginal note, J. C. D'Alession, "Intentions and
Dispositions" Crititica. The Argentine philosopher J. C. D'Alessio was a student of
Pears at All Souls and we would discuss Grice together.
""Disposition and Intention" has survived only in manuscript".
He writes that "his purpose is to consider the best analysis of
'PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS'. He considers the 'dispositional' account, and the
alternative, to consider 'intention' statements as describing "SPECIAL EPISODES".
"Grice is dismissive of a third possibility: behaviourism" -- as 'silly'
(a word I came to overused, too, :) -- it means etymologically, 'blissful').
Grice argues that the dispositional account runs into difficulties
specially with "I intend."
But surely it is not appropriate, Chapman notes, to switch to the 'special
The 'how do you know' is trick.
"People," Chapman writes, "are not expected to be judging intention from
In Grice's METAPHOR:
"I am not in the audience, not even in
the front row of the stalls. I am on
(cited by Chapman, p. 67).
-- brilliant, I'd expect you'd agree!
For (3), Grice singles Ryle for criticism.
"Grice argues that the difference between speech and other forms of
behavioiur is much greater than Ryle allows."
"A man does not need to wait," Chapman notes, "to observe HIMSELF heading
for the plate of fruit on the table before is in a position to KNOW that he
"Grice suggested solution to the failure ... of a, b, and c -- rests on
If so and so were the case
I would behave in such and such a way
"cannot be understood as a statement of hypothetical fact," Chapman
writes, but "as a statement of hypothetical intention"
but cfr. Dummett on 'hypothetical promises.'
"just as long as the behaviour in question can be seen as VOLUNTARY."
"It is not possible to say, "I am not sure whether I intend..." in the way
it IS possible to doubt other psychological states." (Chapman notes).
Grice's own positive theory in that paper relies on Stout and the ideas
i. of FREEDOM FROM DOUBT that the intended action will take place as NOT
dependent on any empirical evidence.
Grice's "second observation is that the utterer must be prepared to take
"the necessary steps", Chapman writes, "to bring about the fulfillment of
Grice has "JUSTIFIED the inclusion of psychological concepts in analyses;
they do not need to be 'translated' away into behavioral tendencies or
--- although I'd nitpick about EMPIRICAL meaning 'inner experience'?
"Second, he has established the concept of intention as PRIMARY".
And no, I've checked in the index to Chapman's _Grice_ and there's no
I have made a few marginal notes to my Chapman. INCORRIGIBILITY,
privileged access, are notions that Grice will come back to in "Method in
philosophical psychology", and while 'intend' may figure as PRIMARY, I would think he
ends up analysing it in terms of willing/judging and these two concepts
themselves if not behaviouristically at least "functionalistically".
* Philosophers can be _wicked_. Chapman notes that the manuscript copy of
"Disposition and Intention" contains, in a different hand, very wicked
comments, which I won't transcribe (right now) but which Chapman suggest that
could have been enough of a reason not for Grice to consider this or that.
He could be sensitive.
* Philosophers and 'absurdity'. Chapman quotes from the last passage in
"Disposition and Intention" which may relate to Bayne's comments on
'absurdity' and grammar.
Chapman writes: "Having established that a doubt over one's own intention
is something of an ABSURDITY, he offers a characteristically tantalsing
'we hope that this may help to explain
the ABSURDITY of analogous expressions
mentioning some OTHER psychological
concepts, though I wouldn't for a moment
claim that it will help to explain ALL such
(cited by Chapman, p. 69)
For, indeed, 'what a piece of work is a pirot"!
J. L. Speranza
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