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Reading Reading for this lecture: P. Grice, “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions” chapter 5 in his Studies in the Way of Words. S. Neale, “Paul Grice and.

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Presentation on theme: "Reading Reading for this lecture: P. Grice, “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions” chapter 5 in his Studies in the Way of Words. S. Neale, “Paul Grice and."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Reading Reading for this lecture: P. Grice, “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions” chapter 5 in his Studies in the Way of Words. S. Neale, “Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language” (1992), §§4-6, pp only, Linguistics and Philosophy vol. 15.

3 Agenda I.Recap II.Other responses to failures of sufficiency III.Testing Grice’s account: necessity

4 Recap I.Testing Grice’s Account: sufficiency

5 Recap Target account: S meant NN, by x, that p iff (i) S intended x to induce in A a belief that p; (ii) S intended A to recognize the intention in (i); (iii) S intended A to form the belief at least partly on the basis of the recognition in (ii).

6 Recap We want to test how the account fares by considering whether there are cases in which: (a) The candidate condition holds, but this is not a case of meaning NN. In that case, the candidate is not sufficient for meaning NN. (b)This is a case of meaning NN, but this is not a case in which the candidate condition holds. In that case, the candidate is not necessary for meaning NN.

7 Recap What we’ve been looking at is sufficiency, so cases in which: (i) S intended x to induce in A a belief that p; (ii) S intended A to recognize the intention in (i); (iii) S intended A to form the belief at least partly on the basis of the recognition in (ii). But in which it’s not the case that S meant NN, by x, that p.

8 Recap Counterexample: Due to Schiffer and Strawson. I think that the house you are about to move into is infested with rats. Not wanting to say this outright, I let some rats loose, realising that you are watching me, and also that you do not realise that I realise that you are watching me.

9 Recap (i)I intend you to form the belief that there are rats in the house. (ii)I intend you to recognise my intention that you form the belief that there are rats in the house. (iii)I intend you form the belief that there are rats in the house on the basis of recognising my intention that you form that belief (rather than, e.g., on the basis of seeing the rats, since you know I released them deliberately).

10 Recap So all the candidate conditions are met. Did I mean NN, by releasing the rats, that the house is infested with rats? Plausibly, not.

11 Recap We considered adding in an intention to block the counterexample.

12 Recap S meant NN, by x, that p iff (i) S intended x to induce in A a belief that p; (ii) S intended A to recognize the intention in (i); (iii) S intended A to form the belief at least partly on the basis of the recognition in (ii); AND: (iv) S intended A to recognise the intention in (ii).

13 Recap Problems with the response: 1.Epicycles 2.Regress 3.Psychological implausibility

14 Other responses Other responses: 1.Mutual knowledge. 2.Negative clause. 3.Idealisation and loose use. 4.Reflexive intention.

15 Other responses 1.Mutual knowledge: Schiffer’s own response to his type of counterexample involves appeal to the idea of mutual knowledge.

16 Other responses Consider Alf and Ralph looking at a candle. Schiffer says that, in ordinary circumstances, Alf and Ralph know that there is a candle there. Moreover, Alf knows that Ralph knows that there is a candle there. And Ralph knows that Alf knows that that Ralph knows that there is a candle there. And Alf knows that Ralph knows that Alf knows that Ralph knows that there is a candle there. And so forth.

17 Other responses If each participant has every stage of knowledge about the other participant, we have a case of mutual knowledge that there is a candle there. Schiffer’s idea is (i) that this type of mutual knowledge is unproblematic and (ii) that it can be used to fix Grice’s analysis.

18 Other responses Schiffer’s analysis is designed to rule out deception by requiring that both parties to a piece of communication know that the other knows… that the basic Gricean intentions are operative.

19 Other responses S meant that p by uttering x iff (0) S uttered x intending to make it so that E, where E is sufficient for S and A to mutually know that E obtains and that E is conclusive evidence that S intends: (i)To produce in A a belief that p (ii)A’s recognition of S’s intention (i) to be A’s reason for believing that p (iii)To bring about E.

20 Other responses Schiffer’s idea is that the mutual knowledge condition rules out the possibility of S having hidden intentions that are constitutive of the act of communication.

21 Other responses 1. Psychological implausibility. Not obvious that we typically have mutual knowledge—by contrast, perhaps, with the potential to ascend the hierarchy. This is liable to look even more problematic when we consider that small children appear to be able to mean things by their words.

22 Other responses 2. Redundancy: One response is that it’s not really required that speaker and audience have mutual knowledge. Rather, all that is required is that they be in a position to have that knowledge.

23 Other responses But in that case, we might think that the mutual knowledge condition is redundant. What is really required is that nothing rules out speaker and hearer having the knowledge. In that case, we might think that what is doing the work is the availability, in the situation, of the fact that no deceptive intentions are in play.

24 Other responses 2. Negative Clause According to this response, it is not required that speakers have every stage of Gricean intentions. Rather, all that is required is that they lack deceptive intentions.

25 Other responses Problems: Specifying the negative clause appears to require just as much complexity and potential regress as the basic Gricean account. The problem here is that it does not seem adequate to say only that the speaker has no deceptive intentions. We don’t, for example, want to rule out the possibility of lying.

26 Other responses Rather, we need to spell out the intentions that the speaker must lack. And these are just negative versions of the intentions in the full blown—potentially regressive— Gricean analysis.

27 Other responses Now we might think that this is less psychologically implausible than the other accounts we’ve considered. Even so, we might think that the negative account is still overly complex and potentially regressive.

28 Other responses Moreover, it’s plausible that what is required is not simply absence of speaker intention. Consider the rats counterexample. We might think that it’s not sufficient that the speaker have no deceptive intentions. Suppose, for example, that he just hasn’t thought about what he’s doing when he releases the rats. Even so, it’s plausible that he doesn’t mean that there are rats.

29 Other responses 3. Idealisation and loose use Speaker meaning proper involves indefinitely many embedded intentions, as per the regressive response to the Strawson/Schiffer counterexamples. It’s likely never to be realised by ordinary speakers. Hence, it should be treated as a sort of idealisation, with ordinary speakers meeting it only to a first approximation.

30 Other responses 3. Idealisation and loose use Ordinary talk about speaker meaning should be viewed as a sort of ‘loose use’, much as when we say that France is hexagonal, despite its being an imperfect hexagon.

31 Other responses Problems: Our responses to counterexamples suggest that we don’t treat claims about speaker’s meaning as involving loose use. The idea that none of our communicative acts involve genuine speaker meaning is apt to make genuine speaker meaning less interesting than the type of communication we actually manage.

32 Other responses 4. Reflexive intentions: We’ve been considering a version of Grice’s proposal that offers a tripartite account: three interacting intentions. But Grice initially presented his proposal in reflexive form.

33 Other responses ““S meant, by x, that p” is roughly equivalent to “S uttered x with the intention of inducing the belief that p in an audience by means of the recognition of this intention.”” (Grice, “Meaning: 219)

34 Other responses The proposal is reflexive since it involves a single intention that makes reference to itself. Some philosophers think that Grice should have stuck with this account, rather than moving to the tripartite account.

35 Other responses Grice raises a concern with the reflexive account, although he sets the concern aside: “(This seems to involve a reflexive paradox, but it does not really do so)” (“Meaning”: 219) We’ll come back to this.

36 Other responses The key benefit of the reflexive proposal is that the very intention that is doing constitutive work--i.e. the intention that communicative intentions be recognised--is itself intended to be recognised. There is therefore no space for deceptive intentions of a problematic sort.

37 Other responses In the tripartite account, the speaker is thought of as having a number of independent intentions. We’ve seen that problems arise because additional intentions are required in order to ensure that the intentions work together in the right way.

38 Other responses By contrast, it is built into the reflexive account that the communicative intentions work together in the right way, since ‘they’ are really a single, reflexive intention.

39 Reading Reading for this lecture: P. Grice, “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions” chapter 5 in his Studies in the Way of Words. S. Neale, “Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language” (1992), §§4-6, pp only, Linguistics and Philosophy vol. 15.


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