Noncognitivism about normative judgment is the view that normative judgment is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. Noncognitivism about intention (also called the “distinctive practical attitude” theory) is the view that intention is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. While these theories are alike in several ways, they have rarely been discussed in concert. This paper studies the relation between these two theories, focusing on the question of whether noncognitivism about intention faces an analogue of the well-known Frege-Geach problem for noncognitivism about normative judgment. I argue that whether it faces the Frege-Geach problem depends on how it treats the distinction between what Anscombe called expressions of intention and personal predictions. I show that there is substantial pressure to treat that distinction as semantic, and that a variant of the Frege-Geach problem arises for versions of noncognitivism about intention that go this route. Yet some philosophers of action may be willing to resist this pressure, and I develop a pragmatic account of the distinction that would allow such philosophers to avoid the Frege-Geach problem altogether. I argue that this pragmatic account has significant independent appeal. Notably, it provides a way for noncognitivists about intention to undercut the force of a recent argument for cognitivism due to Berislav Marušić and John Schwenkler.
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For a defense of both mutual exclusivity and exhaustiveness, see (Sinhababu 2017).
Strictly speaking, the broadly Hobbesian view that normative judgments are desires is a form of noncognitivism. But even early contemporary discussions of NNJ deny the Hobbesian view; c.f., e.g., (Stevenson 1937, p. 16).
(Marušić and Schwenkler 2018).
That desires are not subject to requirements of rationality is a widespread assumption in this dialectic. For defenses of that idea, see, e.g., (M. E. Bratman 1987, chap. 1; Baker 2010), as well as (Shah and David Velleman 2005; Velleman 2000; Broome 2013, chap. 6). For defenses of this assumption in metaethical contexts, see (Stevenson 1937; Schroeder 2009, chap. 7). For the contrary view, see (Smith 1994).
For an overview, see (Schroeder 2009, chap. 4).
See (Gibbard 2003).
Schroeder (2008), pp. 10–12.
Or, that solving it requires paying too steep a theoretical price; see, e.g., (Schroeder 2008).
Here I follow (Woods 2017).
See (Anscombe 2000, secs. 1–3). Here I set aside Anscombe’s distinction between predictions and estimates.
Note that Grice famously used the phrase “expressions of intention” differently, at (Grice 1971, 11–12). This terminology should not lead us to prejudge the question of whether NI should adopt expressivism.
Historically, in Britain (excluding Scotland), “I will” was reserved for expressions of intention, while “I shall” was used for both expressions of intention and personal predictions, as was the progressive. See the entries for “will, v.1” (esp. 11 and 16), and “shall, v.” (esp. 8) in (“OED Online” 2018), as well as sections 5.131, 5.151 and 5.250 in (Chicago Manual of Style 2017), and 5.149 of (Chicago Manual of Style 2010). Notably, while Anscombe uses progressive sentences as her examples of expressions of intention, in Intention itself she routinely uses “I shall” to express her own intentions and to make personal predictions (cf. Anscombe 2000, pp. 90, 92).
Compare (M. E. Bratman 1993, 103–4).
Anscombe (2000), p. 7.
Anscombe (2000), p. 4.
Anscombe (2000), p. 4.
Anscombe (2000), pp. 4–5.
Compare the failure of speaker-subjectivism for NNJ in Section 2. See also, e.g., (Schroeder 2009, chap. 4).
Compare (Anscombe 2000, 92).
Compare (Harman 1976).
Though a full development of this account would need to provide an explanation of cases such as (f).
(Gibbard 2003, chap. 1).
Whether Anscombe would accept this approach is unclear. On related issues, see (Moran and Stone 2009).
And, assuming sentences like (g) can be read as material conditionals, (g) and (i) are logically equivalent.
This was suggested to me by Jack Woods.
For discussion, see (Castañeda 1975, chap. 4,6).
This point is in the spirit of (Charlow 2014).
As in (Grice 1975).
Stalnaker (1973), among others.
Compare (Grice 1971, p. 722).
Unless there is some other Gricean route available, of course.
What about cases in which a speaker does not intend to ϕ, but falsely believes that they intend to ϕ, and so expresses an intention to ϕ? Are they sincere or insincere? The criterion above counts them as sincere, but some may wish to hold that, if the false belief is unjustified, the expression of intention is insincere. I thank an anonymous referee for raising this question.
Anscombe (2000), pp. 4–5.
Of course, in the right context, any arbitrary inference can be made by Gricean reasoning.
Marušić and Schwenkler 2018).
That is, assertions about what we will do, rather than about our attitudes.
Compare, e.g., (Williamson 2010).
Marušić and Schwenkler (2018), pp. 13–15.
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For helpful discussion and comments, I thank Avery Archer, Michael Bratman, I-Sen Chen, Eugene Chislenko, Carlos Núñez, RJ Leland, David Taylor, Peter Hawke, Peter Hanks, Katy Meadows, Huw Duffy, Valerie Tiberius, Paul Tulipana, Jack Woods, Al Mele, numerous anonymous referees for several journals, the participants in a seminar on intention and normative judgment at Stanford, and audiences at the Berkeley-Stanford-Davis Graduate Conference, the Pacific APA, and the University of Minnesota.
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Asarnow, S. Noncognitivism in Metaethics and the Philosophy of Action. Erkenn (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-020-00341-1