[hist-analytic] Bouletic and chronologic

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jun 4 14:33:41 EDT 2011

In a message dated 6/2/2011, Baynesr at comcast.net writes in 'Mele':

"The notion of the present has no special place in the theory of action  
and intention discussed. The notion of time is discussed in detail and the 
idea  of an "occurrent" intention plays a prominent role, but the idea of 
intentional  action as tied to the present from the agent's perspective is 
difficult if not  impossible to identify. This is problematic. One might 
approximate the notion of  an volition as it occurs in earlier works as being 
something that is just like  any other intention caused action except that the 
action and the intention  coincide temporally in the present. Thus a "pure 
intention" in Davidson's sense  is not a volition, but upon initiation of the 
action guided by the intention the  intention is no longer pure; it is sullied 
by a real world presence taking place  in the present. As Bradley once 
suggested: intentions may concern the future but  volitions only occur in the 
agent's present. Perhaps one way of looking at it is  to say that in a "pure 
intention" (an intention lacking any realization) there  is a temporal 
"projection," a "text" that makes reference to some future time,  whereas a 
volition lacks any temporal reference or "projection" because it is  being realized 
presently and is, therefore, not part of the intention. The  concept now 
may enter into the "text" of an intention to act but not in the text  of an 
intentional act occuring now So if I intend to check my email "now" I am  not 
now checking my email.  
...  It's worth noting that the  distinction I have drawn in the "nowness" 
of a volition, cum intention, is not  captured by the distinction between 
'Now I intend to X' and 'I intend to X,  now'. In neither case am I committed 
to the statement 'I am now Xing'."
The title of my post is meant jocularly, as it were! (seeing that one  
SHOULD avoid technical jargon like the rats -- and yet here I am using  
'bouletic' and 'chronologic') -- but I would like to focus, momentarily, on a  
formal counterpart to Bayne's points above.
When I wrote my PhD disseration on Grice I never focused much on the formal 
 details of this. I did use symbols like
"G(A, p)" 
for things like: "agent A has a goal, with content p".
-- or something like that (inspired by Rosenschein and others, "Elements of 
 Discourse Understanding", Cambridge University Press, ed. Joshi). And at 
the  same time I was aware of prolific writer N. Rescher's 1968 coinage of  
'boulemaic' -- as used by Allwood et al in "Logic in Linguistics") (and  
corrected, on etymological grounds, to "bouletic" by F. R. Palmer) to  refer to 
'modalities' of 'conation', as it were. 
The emphasis on 'chronologic' comes from Grice/Myro's work on 'relative'  
(i.e. time-relative) identity. -- where the above formula should be  expanded

G(A, p) in t1 -- and t2 as attaching to the 'radical' p proper.
In other words:
it would seem that there is still some further jargon one may use:
there's 'counterfact', 'non-fact', and, of course, 'fact' (loosely used,  
since this applies to the content of 'cognition' and 'conation', rather  than 
to _reality_ itself). 
It seems that a lot of our desires are counterfactual. (Which is yet  
different from saying that a total unrealisable 'wish' can never serve as an  
'intention' -- 'sour grapes' scenarios, or "I wish that he were a married  
bachelor" -- cfr. Grice/Strawson, "My neighbour's three-year-old child is an  
More to the point, Bayne above is considering (as he reads Mele, a darn  
good philosopher, we agree) 'entailment' relationships between statements of  
intention and the factivity or lack thereof of the 'that'-clause component  
attached to it. (Bayne has recently finished his long awaited long book on  
Anscombe, which helps!):

Bayne's examples:
"_If_ [empahsis mine. JLS] I intend to check my email 'now', I am not now  
checking my email' (scare quotes Bayne's!)
But also:
"the distinction between 'Now I intend to X' and 
'I intend to X, now'. In neither case am 
I committed to the statement 'I am now Xing'."
For the record, the phrase "keep Xing" is an interesting one, and should be 
 used more frequently (by the 'chattering' classes, as it were). "I  intend 
to remain a Democrat," say. This seems to _entail_ that the agent _is_ a  
Democrat. But then, following Play Group considerations, I rather focus on 
"the  door is closed".
Remember Hare's Language of Morals (1955):
The door is closed, yes. -------- neustic/phrastic/tropic/clistic.
The door is closed, please.
For Hare, the 'p' represents the 'radical':
"The door is closed"
and TWO directions of fit are possible (symbolised as in atomic theory,  
with an arrow pointing up or down wards). Since this is about 'bouletic',  let 
us concentrate momentarily on 'The door is closed, please', i.e. as  
realised in, e.g. 
"Close the [_that_] door, for God's sake!"
In symbols, for 
being, "the door is closed"
G(A, p).
It is A's goal that the door is closed. Note that the more correct  
"Keep that door closed, for God's sake"
seems to differ from the plainer imperative. And indeed the  
satisfaction-conditions seem to differ. "Keep that door closed, for haven's  sake", alas, 
seems to be used hyperbolically, e.g. as when A's interlocutor, B,  has been 
overusing the door (by opening it, mainly) eliciting A's rude  utterance. 
There is a different scenario as it applie to a jail administrator  
instructing a guard:
"Under no circumstance should that door be opened. The door is to be  kept 
strictly closed. Food is administered via the little window _in_ the door  
-- and twice a day, only". 
On a different scenario, it may seem that a rational agent will only have  
goals that pertain to the future. Yet, we do seem, to compicate thing, to 
use  'bouletic' modalities, in the past tense. "I wish I had met Socrates". 
That  seems an otiose thing to say, but I have heard people uttering it. I 
would not  be surprised if the Greeks used a different construction. Note that 
it's a  current 'wish' on the part of the utterer. Other tenses and aspects 
seem to be  used in different languages. (The "potential" mode of some 
languages, which is a  later development in "Romance" languages, as I 
And so on. The points about 'factuality', counterfactuality and  
nonfactualty, I took from G. N. Leech ("Semantics", Penguin, 2nd edn) via Grice.  
Grice of course borrowed (but never returned) the rather bad technical jargon  
from the Kiparskys (1970, I think). Grice wants to say,
"The weathercock means that the wind is blowing SW" -- entails, "The wind  
is blowing SW".
(Grice, Lectures on Peirce, The Grice Collection, Berkeley, Bancroft  
Library -- these I date 1947, since they seem to predate his 1948  "Meaning").
 In "Meaning Revisited", Grice speaks of this as 'factive' (1982, in  WoW), 
and in still a previous lecture (1970, "Presupposition and conversational  
implicature", also in WoW) he is referring to the worn-out examples used by  
philosophers ('the beaten wife' -- 'have you stopped beating your wife?' 
and the  bald king -- 'the king of France is not bald' -- as bringing in or  
involving problems of factivity ("He does not _know_ that the king of France 
is  bald" -- "He suspects he has not stopped beating his wife"). 
Oddly, in that lecture, Grice thinks that 'factive' should be restricted to 
 'know', but not, if I remember alright, to a more 'primitive' verb like  
'discover' (Capt Cook never discovered that the Australasian natives were an  
interesting bunch') or a more 'sophisticated' one like 'regret':
I regret that Father is dead.
Grice's example. Alleged 'Fact': "Father is dead" -- Grice uses the square  
symbol device here: "I regret [Father is dead]". The fact that this is 
factive  allows for exportation: "Father is dead and I regret it". 

However, with a conative-cognitive verb in a special syntactic environment, 
 the 'implicatures' that are triggered may differ:
Grice's example:

"[Smith] thought he regretted his father's death, but it afterwards 
turned out that he didn't." 
"As far as it makes sense," Grice writes, that sentence "would, I think,  
still imply the commital to [Smith's] father's death". I.e. there seem to  be 
some verbs, perhaps even conative ones, "in which EVEN THE WEAKENED forms  
also seem to carry this [factive] implication [not entailment]." The fact 
that  Grice was struggling with the idea of 'disimplicature' at that time 
(loose uses  of speech, as it were, did not help. As S. Yablo commented, 
"Implicatures  happen").
Grice hastens to add: "I am not sure about the last distinction,  
[however], and I think perhaps it does not matter very much" (WoW, p. 279)
But it does!

J. L. Speranza

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list