[hist-analytic] Bouletic and chronologic

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sat Jun 4 17:05:18 EDT 2011


Just a quick reply to one point you raise. 

"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, 

Just a word here on what was behind my remark on the scope of 'now'. When I sad "neither case" I was trying to indicate a difference between the concept of the present in the token reflex and the concept of the present (progressive) in the verb of the sentences containing 'now'. Of some interest here is the use sometimes made of "event variables" in verb structure. On the natural language syntactical side, these are Davidsonian in origin; but their introduction into syntax was facilitated by Chomsky early treatment in Syntactic Structures of inflectional structure and tense, more specifically "Aux(illary" structure, and even more specifically tense in 'C' where "Aux -> C(M)(have+en)(be+ing). (ST. Chapter 7, and Appendix II)." Note the progressive in Aux has no place for the token reflexive. Anyway, my thinking on this is that if you want to preserve what has been called "compositionality" then you have to monkey with logical form (again, in Chomsky's sense) in order to generate the desirable morphologically realized syntax. I've always felt that inflectional structure was more interesting than the treatment of token reflexives. I was delighted by Chomsky's move in this direction. What was a suspicion on my part became a full fledged theory with the trimmings. Still, nothing in Chomsky really addresses compositionality, an objective of artificial languages but no so much natural language. A final point. 

You have to monkey with event variables to retain compositionality because Davidsonian type relations of event "jump" syntactical structures and the "rules" seem artificial; all to save compositionality. I wrote a bit on Katz's effort to make use of Davidson,etc, in causal contexts. I tended to side with the linguists. I feel no committment to compositionality. We owe it to Frege and maybe Tarski, in our time. It's a lost cause and not a very good one at that! Lots of papers; lots of formulas; lots of lamda operators...snore. 


Steve Bayne 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Saturday, June 4, 2011 1:33:41 PM 
Subject: Bouletic and chronologic 

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 
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