[hist-analytic] Predicting and Deciding

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Dec 27 02:46:44 EST 2009

While I search for a wittier way to refer to Pears (I'm thinking on a pun  
with the famous soap of his ancestors or something alone the lines of 
'pears'  the fruits -- from the OED or something -- I'm titling this after Pears's 
 lecture for the British Academy.
Chapman notes that Grice's legacy will  possibly be the 'first-person': he 
was an intentionalist, and thus the focus on  the 'first person' was crucial 
to him. I want to think that that was the case  with D. F. Pears. 

I'm trying to retrieve Grice's ref. to Pears in the  last bit of "Intention 
and Uncertainty". If I'm not mistaken, Pears's  distinction between 

_MAY_ relate to that  distinction, often obliterated, if that's the word 
(but then, what _hides_  between the "ll" of "I'll" -- is it a 'will' or is it 
a 'shall'?) between what  is perhaps best seen as Future Intentional and 
Future Factual. 
In "Intention  and Uncertainty", Grice explores aspects of English modality 
which are pretty  hard to conceptualise. Consider some of the examples from 
the elementary wiki  entry on the 'future':
begin quoted text:

"In all of these, action within a future range of time is contemplated.  
However, in all cases, the sentences are actually voiced in the present tense, 
 since there is no proper future tense in English. It is the implication of 
 futurity that makes these present tense auxiliary constructions amount to 
a  compound future quasi-tense. An additional form of expressing the future 
is "I  am going to...".
This reality, that expression of futurity in English is a  function of the 
present tense, is born out by the ability to negate the  implication of 
futurity without making any change to the auxiliary construction.  When a verbal 
construction that suggests futurity (such as "I shall go") is  subsequently 
followed by information that establishes a condition or  presupposition, or 
the active verb stem itself contradicts a future indicative  application of 
the construction, then any sense of future tense is negated -  especially 
when the auxiliary will is used within its literal meaning, which is  to 
voluntarily 'will' an action. For example:

Person A says: "You will go now. You will not stay." 
Person B answers:  "I shall go nowhere. I will stay." 

The second 'will', in B's response, is not only expressing volition here  
but is being used in contradistinction to the usual first person 'shall' in  
order to achieve emphasis. Similarly, in the case of the second and third  
persons, 'will' operates with 'shall' in reverse.

For example:

A: Will  he be at the café at six  o'clock?
B: He will be there.  [Normal affirmation]

HOWEVER, B: He shall be  there. [Stresses that this is not the usual 
pattern that was previously  established or to be expected (Last time he was late 
or did not show up)]
--- end of quoted text.

In "Intention and Uncertainty", Grice quotes from Bertold Brecht's  
_Regufee Conversations_: 

"Denmark was at one time  plagued by a 
succession of corrupt finance ministers.  
[...] To deal with this situation, a law  
was passed requiring periodic inspection  
of the books of the Finance Minister. A  
certain Finance Minister, when visited by  
the inspectors, said to them 'If you  
inspect my books, I shall not continue to  
be your finance minister. They retired in  
confusion, and only eighteen months later  
it wsa discovered that the Finance Minister  
had spoken nothing other than the literal  
Grice, 'Intention and Uncertainty',  
Oxford, p. 11 

Grice  comments:

"This anecdote [...] exploits a modal ambiguity  
in the future tense, between 
(a) the future indicated or factual
(b) the future intentional. 
"This ambiguity extends beyond 
the first person form of the  tense; there is 
a difference between  

'There will-F be light'  

(future factual) and  

'There will-I be light'  

(future intentional).

"God might have uttered 
the second sentence while engaged in the 
"Sensitive Englsh speakers (which 
most of us are not) may be  able to mark this 
distinction by discriminating between 

"'I shall-I go to London' 
stands to 
'I intend to go to London' 
to the way in which 'Oh for rain tomorrow!'  
stands to 'I wish for rain tomorrow'."
---- This bit below is what fascinates me about Grice and his focus on the  
"Just as 
NO ONE *ELSE* can say JUST what *I*  say when I 
    "I shall-I go to London". 
"If someone else 
"Grice will go to London", 
he will be 
expressing his, not my, intention that I 
shall go." (p. 11). 
---- The asymmetries marked by the wiki entry for the future confuse me  
"shall (and its subjunctive should). This implies obligation or determined  
intent when used in the second person and its plural, and implies a simple  
future meaning in the first and third. 
will (and its subjunctive form  would). This implies wish or intent for the 
future, other than in the first and  third person, in which it implies 
obligation or determined intent. Otherwise, it  is used as the most neutral form 
and it is the most commonly used."
and I hope Pears shed light on this.
I recall Grice coining (or reviving) a nice turn of phrase for something  
like this distinction:
'protreptic' (versus merely 'exhibitive')
    Trespassers shall be prosecuted
-- or some such example, Grice notes, does not merely exhibit the utterer's 
 intention, but also aims at the addressee forming a similar intention. 
It's  'protrepsis'.
But back to the predicting and deciding.
Predicting then seems to be all about the 'factual', not the intentional.  
It's about the future 'indicated' as Grice has it (where I _think_ 
'indicated'  is 'cognate' with INDICATIVE, so that 'future intentional' would NOT be  
'indicative' mode -- Grice hated 'mood' and adopted 'mode' apres Moravsik 
(sp?)  after he would visit Grice across the bay.
These points may connect with Bayne's research on Anscombe and notes like  
his "Deliberation and Grammar", this forum.

J. L. Speranza

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