[hist-analytic] Omission and Action

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 29 07:03:23 EDT 2009


Good point! I take this up, briefly, in the book. Accidental omissions and deliberate omission have to be distinguished. One distinction I make considerable use of, one which is implicit in your remarks is between what I call "willful" action and an "acts of will." It is something like Anscombe's distinction between being intentional but done without an intention. One example might be a particular movement of the hands in tying a fancy knot, say half way through. Or seeing a spot on your jacket and thoughtlessly brushing it off. Actually the distinction goes back to James; at least one contemporary has been credited with discovering it, but its' been around the block a couple of times. Anyway, an intentional omission is never, if I am right, a merely intentional act, rather than one one backed by its own formulated intension. The idea of a "formulated" intention is closely tied, historically, to what James and others called a "resolve." Say I'm on a
 firing squad and I don't want to shoot. I don't. I had this resolve from the beginning. I "formulated" an intention. But suppose I am walking through the wood and see a flash of color. I may shoot without formulating an intention. Also, I may turn quick and not fire at a potential threat. In this latter case, I wouldn't call it an "omission." 

Best wishes


--- On Wed, 7/29/09, Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk> wrote:

From: Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk>
Subject: RE: Omission and Action
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 3:07 AM


Hi Steve, 


Do we need to distinguish intentional, unintentional
and non-intentional omissions? I omit to do many things because I just forget to
do them (like popping into the shop on the way home): I omit them
unintentionally. I omit to do many more things because it just never occurs to
me to do them (like performing a song-and-dance routine while I am waiting for
a bus): I omit them non-intentionally. But some things I omit to do
intentionally (like omitting to talk in the cross examination). Perhaps: intentional
omissions are those that I try to omit; unintentional and non-intentional ones
are those that I do not try to omit. Unintentional omissions seem to  be
ones that conflict with our intentions or plans, whereas non-intentional ones
don’t. Just a first stab. 



hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com
[mailto:hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com] On Behalf Of steve bayne

Sent: 28 July 2009 23:58

To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com;
Ron Barnette

Subject: RE: Omission and Action 


  The cross examination case is good because it shows
  that the condition I mention may be necessary but is not sufficient for
  omission: The witness refuses to testify, had he testified it would have been
  an intentional act; but it is not an omission on his part but a refusal,
  suggesting that refusal and omission might belong to a larger class. 


  I didn't omit calling the mayor's office because I never had that intention.
  This is another interesting case. As if to imply that had I called since it
  would have had to be intentional to be an omission and inasmuch as I had no
  such intention I, therefore did not "omit" calling the mayor.


  I have a short section devoted to Melden. Melden was far more thought
  provoking form me than Hampshiire, although other of Hampshire's works I find
  very good.






  --- On Tue, 7/28/09, Ron Barnette <rbarnett at valdosta.edu>

  From: Ron Barnette <rbarnett at valdosta.edu>

  Subject: RE: Omission and Action

  To: "'steve bayne'" <baynesrb at yahoo.com>,
  hist-analytic at simplelists.com

  Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 5:04 PM 
  I’m glad to learn that you address omissions in the book,
  as they constitute a very special class---one might argue class of
  actions---in which something intentional is definitely undertaken….say,
  my deliberately remaining steadfast, perfectly still and silent during an
  intense cross-examination. My refusal
  to answer a question would correctly be construed as something I did intentionally, yet without overt bodily
  movement. So are there actions that do not involve bodily movements?
  Interesting implications with either ‘yes’ or ‘no,’
  Good work, Steve…Btw, this brought to mind many discussions
  on this very topic I had in the late 60’s with dear Abe Melden who (you
  know) served faithfully on my dissertation committee. 
  Ron Barnette 
  hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com
  [mailto:hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com] On Behalf Of steve bayne

  Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009
  4:47 PM

  To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com

  Subject: Omission and Action 
    have a number of things to say about omissions in the book. Here are two
    sentences from that discusson. 


    "We feel the compulsion, at some point, to ask: what must be added to
    an event that never happened in order to make it an omission?  An
    omission, unlike a bodily movement which had it happened would have been
    just that, viz. a bodily movement, is such a nonoccurrence of an event that
    had it occurred would have
    been intentional. Omissions constitute a special class, or category,
    although Anscombe may be right to criticize Davidson on this matter, no
    one, including Anscombe, has presented a satisfactory theory concerning its





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