[hist-analytic] Grice, "Disposition and Intention"

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 12 09:50:36 EDT 2009


What is the info on Chapman. I'd like to include reference to the
quote you made to the effect that Anscombe's intention was
the best Gricean idea yet. That would be interesting. Also,
I'm curious about Chapman. 

I think Grice did a pretty terrible job in editing WoW. He 
"cleaned it up." Too much missing; too much edited out;
not enough included. Don't get me wrong it is worth having
and reading but it has limitations.

On dispositions: I think this card has been played too 
often. I think the issue of dispositions because it goes
back to the need to add operational definitions to 
extensional accounts of scientific explanation etc and
because of its link to the verificationist position has an
unchallenged respectability. To be sure "finkish dipsostions"
do raise interesting questions about the semantics of
counterfactuals in relation to these "theory terms" but
I think concentrating on them as a way of either formulating
or solving problems is far overdone.

By the way, if you'd like to write up a ten page pdf on 
Grice's work and career etc. I'd be pleased to put it on
HIst-Analytic when I make my next addition. I've already
made the selection, a book. I think people will be surprised.
It's one of H. H. Price's works. Price was superb; never agreed
with him on much but he was a terrific philosopher.



--- On Sat, 7/11/09, Jlsperanza at aol.com <Jlsperanza at aol.com> wrote:

From: Jlsperanza at aol.com <Jlsperanza at aol.com>
Subject: Grice, "Disposition and Intention"
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk
Date: Saturday, July 11, 2009, 1:41 PM

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).

Chapman writes:

"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 
episode' account."

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
the  stage."
(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 
wants  pineapple".

"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 
the intention."


Chapman observes:

Grice  has "JUSTIFIED the inclusion of psychological concepts in analyses; 
they do not  need to be 'translated' away into behavioral tendencies or 
observable  phenomena"

--- 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".

Two footnotes:

* 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 
suggestion  that,

'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  

**************A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy 
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