[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 
to be."


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 

"...  means..."

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 '... 
wills that...'. 

[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 
Somerville, Oxford):

"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  

PRIMITIVE predicates

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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