[hist-analytic] Melian intentions, Griceian intentions
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Feb 12 17:17:09 EST 2011
The other point I wanted to make re: this excellent precis by Bayne of
Mele's views concerns:
In a message dated 2/10/2011 5:17:09 P.M., Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
"We must, then, be careful at identifying volitions with "occurrent"
intentions, especially when we (Mele) have not stated what we take an intention
I thought of a reply to this, but double-checked with Grice, WoW,
Retrospective epilogue, and found the analogy too dubious.
You see, part of the problem (in _defining_ intention, and here I am
reminded of D'Alessio's D.Phil Oxon, A theory of intention -- under D. F. Pears)
is one identified by Grice in his "Retrospective Epilogue" to "Way of
Words". He is taking about
but the point in a way relates.
Grice seems to be saying (and I agree) that there are (at least) TWO ways
(notably) of introducing 'talk' of '... intend...' (or "... means...",
One is the regular 'sufficient/necessary conditions", of the
analysans/analysandum variety. The panacea of us, analytic types.
The model here is Grice, "Utterer's meaning and INTENTIONS", which
proceeds via clauses required to make the analysans neither 'too weak' nor 'too
----- But note that Grice is interested in our intutions about when or
when NOT to use 'mean', rather than 'intend'. There are a couple of
'unpublications' by Grice, deposited in The Grice Collection at Berkeley that DO deal
with intention specifically -- "Intention and Disposition" -- discussed
One would think that Mele, being an analytic type, would care to provide,
alla Chisholm, nec. and suff. conditions for '... intends that p'.
But there is ANOTHER way, and Grice explores it in "Method in
philosophical psychology". This is a 1975 lecture by the then full Berkeley professor.
It stands in some contrast with his earlier British Academy Lecture,
"Intention and uncertainty" (of 1971), which I referred to briefly in my post on
In "Intention and uncertainty", Grice does end his lecture (at long last!
Personally I was _Dying_ to get to this section when I first read the
thing) by providing something like a 'nec/suff' conditions for "... intends...".
Notably, what he calls his "neo-Prichardian" account in terms of '...
[The definition is not yet 'final', but involves something like a
necessary condition on 'willing' and the causal role -- Grice notes the similarity
of this approach to his own, later, attempt, to define, "A has reasoned
from p to c", in 'Reply to Richards'].
'... intends... ', then, gets -- neo-Prichardianly -- analysed (via
reductive, rather than reductionist) analysis in terms of '... wills that...'
with a provision about the causal role played by the willing on the intended
(Incidentally, a good historic precis of this was offered by Harman, who,
having followed Grice since his early lectures on "Intending and Trying" at
Brandeis, etc.) explores this in "Intending and willing", in
Grandy/Warner's festschrift for Grice, PGRICE, Philosophical Grounds of Rationality:
Intentions, Categories, Ends -- a point is made about Grice reacting,
non-explicitly, but this may relate to my previous post on 'uncertainty', to
Hampshire/Hart's essay in _Mind_ on 'intention' and CERTAINTY!).
But in "Method", Grice (perhaps influenced by the Lewis he had met at
Harvard) provides something that relates to some discussion I was having with
D. Frederick elsewhere (Chora): '... intends...' (like indeed, '... wills
...', or '... accepts...') becomes a THEORETICAL term.
"... intends ..." is NOT defined a la neurophysiology, or in a
materialistic way, but in a _functionalist_ way, in terms of the perceptual input and
behavioural output that determines an 'intention'. Grice is focusing on
more primitive contative attitudes, though, and sticks to '... willing...'
(his analysis of a squirrel _willing_ to eat nuts, for example).
One BIG problem Grice sees with this comes fresh from WoW, and I'll quote,
as it relates to the role of the philosopher's intuitions, and the point
about philosophical analysis in general. How much of our philosophical
standards are 'linguistic' and relate to ways in which we WOULD or not use
certain familiar locutions (like '... intends...')?
Grice writes (notably in reply to Mrs. Julie M. Jack, a tutor at
"It remains to inquire whether there is any reasonable alternative program
for the problems about meaning other than of the provision of a reductive
analysis of the concept of meaning."
Mutatis mutandis, intention. Grice is relying on his analysis being
_reductive_ and not necessarily reductionist or eliminationist (alla Libet?).
Grice grew progressively intolerant (sic!) of reductionist positions! -- this
proves an obstacle to his elevation to the City of Eternal Truth, granted).
Grice goes on:
"The only alternative which I can think of would be that of treating
'meaning' as a THEORETICAL concept which, together with other theoretical
concepts, would provide for the
involved in a semantic system, an array whose job it would be to provide
and hypotheses in terms of which the phenomena of meaning are to
Oddly, such a system can be devised for things like W (willing) and J
JA(p) & JA(p ) q) --> JA(q)
--- if one judges p and p ) q, shouldn't a rational 'agent' also judge 'q'
(where ')' is the material implication).
"If this direction *is* taken, ... " Grice goes on, intuitions would seem
to play almost no role. And yet he seems to take as a _datum_ that
intuitions do play a role in our ascribing 'meanings' (and I would add,
'intentions'). Or not!
(* I use "Griceian" rather than the more 'standard' "Gricean" because
today it is _Saturday_).
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