[hist-analytic] Explaining Making a Joke

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Wed Jan 27 16:55:11 EST 2010

"Why did you do that?" 

"For a joke." 

"I see. You desired to make someone laugh; 
you thought that this joke would do it; so you did it." 


But take 'for a joke'. Motive? To get my hands on 
motives I sometimes use 'I did it out of(from) ...'. 
This isn't perfect but it,sometimes, gets to motive 
where 'motive' doesn't imply intention. 'I did it out 
of anger implies no intention or 'text' associated 
with the act. But "I did it as a joke" is something 
I must intend; I can act from anger in the absence of 
an intention. So, do I say I had an idea for a joke 
when I saw that he did such and such? Well then my
intention was to make a joke, but that's not making a
joke with an intention. I came to desire to make the 
joke partly because the opportunity was perfect. 

Note here that the desire has an explanation in the 
belief; they are not independent as are many pro-attitudes 
and beliefs. This causal relation complicates things, 
but leaves us trying to figure how we can explain 
making a joke in terms of desires and beliefs. I suspect 
it is hopeless to do it in a way that is uniform in 
treatment to other types of action. 

This is an interesting but, maybe, not so important
type of case but it is curious.


Steve Bayne

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