Advertisement

Seeing To it That: A Canonical Form for Agentives

  • Nuel Belnap
  • Michael Perloff
Part of the Studies in Cognitive Systems book series (COGS, volume 5)

Abstract

J. L. Austin told us that “The beginning of sense, not to say wisdom, is to realize that ‘doing an action’, as used in philosophy, is a highly abstract expression — it is a stand-in used in the place of any (or almost any) verb with a personal subject...” [Austin56; p. 178].1 In that paper he tried to throw light on the question of “doing an action” by looking at the range of cases in which excuses are offered both in everyday usage and in the law, and to arrive at a proper vocabulary for action by “induction” on the proper uses of words. Many years have passed, the lesson has been learned, and it is time for philosophy to go beyond the mere beginnings of sense and progress toward a deeper understanding of an agent doing an action. How should we proceed? Our suggestion is that the next step in the progression toward greater sense and wisdom is to have available the sort of clean and well honed linguistic resource that Austin, and other philosophers, have realized to be necessary. We think that the most promising path to a deeper understanding of an agent making a choice among alternatives that lead to action is to augment the language with a class of sentences whose fundamental syntactic and semantic structures are so well designed and easily understood that they illuminate not only their own operations but the nature and structure of the linguistic settings in which they function.

Keywords

Canonical Form Deontic Logic English Sentence Linguistic Resource Declarative Sentence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. Anderson, A. “Logic, norms, and roles,” Ratio 4, pp. 36–49, 1962.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, A. “The logic of hohfeldian propositions,” Logique et Analyse 49–50, pp. 231–242, 1970.Google Scholar
  3. Aqvist, L. “An analysis of action sentences based on a `tree’ system of modal tense logic,” Papers on Tense, Aspect and Verb Classification, C. Rohrer, ed. Tbingen (TBL Verlag Gunter Narr), pp. 111–161, 1978.Google Scholar
  4. Aqvist, L. “Deontic logic,” Handbook of Philosophical Logic,volume II, D. Gabbay and F. Guenthner, eds., Reidel, pp. 605–714, 1984.Google Scholar
  5. Austin, J. “A plea for excuses,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1956–57, reprinted in Philosophical Papers, Oxford University Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  6. Austin, J. “The meaning of a word,” Philosophical Papers, Oxford University Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  7. Belnap, N. “Declaratives are not enough,” unpublished manuscript, forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, 1988.Google Scholar
  8. Belnap, N. “Backwards and forwards in the modal logic of agency,” unpublished manuscript, 1989.Google Scholar
  9. Belnap, N., and M. Perloff. “Seeing to it that: a canonical form for agentives,” Theoria 54 pp. 175–199, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bennett, J. Events and Their Names, Hackett, forthcoming 1988.Google Scholar
  11. Brand, M. The Nature of Human Action,Scott, Foresman, and Company, 1970.Google Scholar
  12. Bressan, A. A General Interpreted Modal Calculus,Yale University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  13. Castaneda, H. N. The Structure of Morality, Charles C. Thomas, 1974.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, D. “The logical form of action sentences,” The Logic of Decision and Action, N. Rescher, ed., University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 81–95, 1966.Google Scholar
  15. Gupta, A. The Logic of Common Nouns: an Investigation in Quantified Modal Logic, Yale University Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  16. Hamblin, C. Imperatives, Basil Blackwell, 1987.Google Scholar
  17. Kripke, S. “Naming and necessity,” Semantics of Natural Language, D. Davidson and G. Harman, eds., Reidel, pp. 253–355, 1972.Google Scholar
  18. Makinson, D. “On the formal representation of rights relations,” Journal of Philosophical Logic 15, pp. 403–425, 1986.zbMATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  19. McCall, S. “Objective time flow,” Philosophy of Science 43, pp. 337–362, 1976.Google Scholar
  20. Perloff, M. “A better alternative,” Analysis 39, pp. 106–108, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thalberg, I. Enigmas of Agency, George Allen & Unwin, 1972. See especially Chapter I, “Do we cause our own actions?”.Google Scholar
  22. Thomason, R. H. “Indeterminist time and truth-value gaps,” Theoria 36, pp. 264–281, 1970.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  23. von Neumann, J. and O. Morgenstern. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton University Press, 1944.Google Scholar
  24. von Wright, G. Norm and Action, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963.Google Scholar
  25. von Wright G. “A new system of deontic logic,” Deontic Logic: Introductory and Systematic Readings,R. Hilpinen, ed., Reidel, pp.105–120,1970.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nuel Belnap
  • Michael Perloff

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations