[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
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!):
"_If_ [empahsis mine. JLS] I intend to check my email 'now', I am not now
checking my email' (scare quotes Bayne's!)
"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"
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:
"[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,
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
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