Friday, September 12, 2014

Caveats Regarding the Expression of Intentions


A distinction must be made between those actions that are both voluntary and intentional and those that are voluntary but not intentional. Not all voluntary actions are intentional, in the sense of being based on, derived from, or guided by, prior intent. We may in some cases voluntarily perform actions that we did not previously intend to perform (or have a prior intention of performing).
      We may in some cases express an intention to perform an action even though we know there is little likelihood that our intention to perform that action will be fulfilled. Indeed, the action may be one that is very difficult or nearly impossible for us to perform, even though we have expressed an intention to perform it. We may also in some cases unknowingly deceive ourselves as to our ability to perform an action, and we may also unknowingly or knowingly deceive others as to our ability to perform that action.
      We may also in some cases say that we intend to perform an action that we in fact have no good reason to perform. In such cases, there may be a lower degree of likelihood that we will fulfill our intention to perform the action than in cases where we have good reason to perform the action.
      We may also in some cases not be able to identify all the reasons for our intentions. We may also not be able to explain our intentions to ourselves and to others. We may lack adequate insight into the nature of our intentions. Other persons may have difficulty interpreting or understanding our actions when our intentions are unclear or unexplained (to them and even to ourselves).
      We may also in some cases express an intention to perform an action even though we have little or no intention of performing that action. We may fail to recognize or admit our true intentions, and we may unconsciously or consciously ignore, deny, or refuse to acknowledge them.
      Thus, we may in some cases make unintentionally false or misleading statements about our true intentions, simply because we have failed to recognize or acknowledge them.
      Can we actually be mistaken about our own intentions? If we fail to examine them when they are unclear, when they appear to be logically or morally inconsistent, or when they appear to be in conflict, then perhaps we can be mistaken about them.
      We may also in some cases deceive others (and ourselves) about our true intentions. We may conceal, disguise, or misrepresent our true intentions.
      We may also in some cases have morally wrong and unjustified intentions (e.g. if we wrongfully intend to harm, injure, offend, annoy, inconvenience, harass, or humiliate other persons), and our statements about those intentions may also be morally wrong and unjustified (e.g. if we make intentionally false, deceptive, or misleading statements about those intentions).
      Our having expressed an intention to perform an action may, however, provide additional motivation for us to perform that action, by requiring us to demonstrate our truthfulness and sincerity. Our expression of an intention to perform an action may entail some degree of responsibility on our part to confirm or verify that intention.
      We may in some cases, however, intend to perform an action without knowing all its possible consequences, and thus the action may be intended and intentional but have unintended or unanticipated consequences.
      Regarding the question of whether a distinction should be made between an “intended” and an “intentional” action, the distinction may consist in whether or not the action is actually performed. If an action is intended, then the intention to perform that action may or may not be fulfilled (the action may or may not actually be performed). If an action is intentional, on the other hand, then it is actually performed—intentionally, on purpose, or deliberately. It makes no sense to say that an action that was “intended” but not performed was “intentional,” although its being intended may be a manifestation of its “intentionality.”
      Some examples of sentences expressing an intention to perform an action include “I intend to do that,” “I have every intention of doing that,” “I’m going to do that,” “I plan to do that,” “I’ve decided to do that,” “I’ll be sure to do that,” “I won’t forget to do that,” “I’ll remember to do that,” and “I’ll make every effort to do that.”
      Other examples of sentences expressing an intention to perform an action include “I promise to do that,” “I feel a duty to do that,” and “I feel obliged to do that” (assuming in each case that the speaker of the sentence does in fact intend to perform the action in question).
      Such phrases as “with the intention of,” “in order to,” and “for the purpose of” may also express intention. Examples include “I telephoned the manager with the intention of making an appointment,” “I’m studying Bergson’s philosophy in order to learn how to think intuitively,” and “For the purpose of getting a new outlook on life, I decided to buy a new pair of glasses.”
      Some examples of sentences expressing a lack or absence of intention include “I don’t intend to do that,” “I have no intention of doing that,” “I never had any intention of doing that,” “I don’t plan to do that,” and “I’m not going to do that.”
    

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Propositional Signs


In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein says that propositional signs are signs through which we express thoughts (Prop. 3.12). Does this mean that we need propositional signs in order to express our thoughts, and that such signs constitute a language (or medium of expression) of thought? Are all thoughts propositional in nature? Do propositional signs express or signify thoughts only insofar as those thoughts are propositional? Are there non-propositional signs that express or signify non-propositional thoughts? Do propositional signs themselves constitute propositions or do they merely stand for or signify propositions? Do all propositions consist of propositional signs? Are propositional signs the basic elements or fundamental constituents of all propositions? Is there a proposition wherever there is a propositional sign, and is there a propositional sign wherever there is a proposition? Does every propositional sign have some symbolic purpose or function, and are all propositions symbolic in one way or another?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Márta Ujvári’s The Trope Bundle Theory of Substance


Márta Ujvári’s The Trope Bundle Theory of Substance: Change, Individuation and Individual Essence (2013) is a metaphysical analysis of the nature of individual substances as basic building blocks of reality. According to Ujvári’s formulation of the trope bundle theory, individual substances are bundles of qualitative features (tropes). Tropes are individuated via their bearer substances, but substances are individuated via their foundation as bearers of qualitative manifolds qua qualitative manifolds and via their occupation of unique spatiotemporal locations. Thus, the individuation of substances is independent of the fact that each of their constituent tropes is a qualitative feature of them.
      This more complex and sophisticated version of the trope bundle theory contrasts with the simple or classical trope bundle theory, which regards an individual substance as “nothing but” a bundle of tropes.1 Ujvári argues that the latter theory fails to account for the unity and concreteness of substances,2 and that it also has the disadvantage of presenting a circular view of individuation, according to which the tropes of an individual substance and the substance itself mutually individuate each other.3
       According to Ujvári, tropes are neither particularized properties nor instantiated universals. They are abstract particulars predicable of concrete particulars,4 and they are property particulars belonging to individual substances. Thus, they are not transferable from substance to substance. Each trope depends for its existence on the individual substance to which it belongs.
      This version of the trope bundle theory avoids the dilemmas posed by the “strong” version of the Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles (PII), since it does not view tropes as sharable properties.5 Ujvári describes the “strong” version of the PII as the principle that it is impossible for numerically distinct concrete particulars to share all their pure (intrinsic) properties in common,6 while she describes the “weak” version of the PII as the principle that it is impossible for numerically distinct concrete particulars to share all their pure (intrinsic) and impure (spatiotemporal) properties in common.7 She explains that one of the dilemmas posed by the “strong” version of the PII is that property identity is assumed to imply numerical identity.8 This assumption may be false if only intrinsic and not spatiotemporal properties are considered as sharable properties.
      Each substance is a bundle of property particulars, rather than a bundle of particular properties or exemplified universals. In contrast to Aristotle’s view of substances as unanalyzable entities, Ujvári views substances as having distinct qualitative features.9
      According to the “two-tier modal trope bundle theory,” tropes may be essential or accidental to the identity of an individual substance. Thus, change in an individual substance is possible, because the substance can remain identifiable over time, even if changes occur in some of its tropes.10
      Ujvári emphasizes that acceptance of the trope bundle theory does not imply acceptance of a monistic, one-category ontology in which tropes are the basic building blocks of all reality, including entities such as polyadic properties and relations.11
      She describes the bundling relation as one of “concurrence” or “compresence” of tropes.12 The internal relations between the tropes of a bundle may be essential or accidental to that particular bundle.13 Since concurrence or compresence cannot logically be an internal relation, it must be a contingent external relation.14
      Tropes are constituents of individual substances (continuants), but they may also be events (occurrents). They may also be abstract components of events. Thus, a concrete event may include all the tropes of the particular substance it involves, but the substance may also exist in its own right as a continuant.15

FOOTNOTES

1Márta Ujvári, The Trope Bundle Theory of Substance: Change, Individuation and Individual Essence (Frankfurt: Onto Verlag, 2013), p. 25.
2Ibid., p. 127
3Ibid., p. 25.
4Ibid., pp. 16-18.
5Ibid., p. 58.
6Ibid., p. 53
7Ibid., p. 52.
8Ibid., p. 51.
9Ibid., p. 25.
10Ibid., p. 20.
11Ibid., pp. 15-16.
12Ibid., p. 157.
13Ibid., p. 158.
14Ibid., p. 161.
15Ibid., pp. 67-68.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One and the Same


The expression “one and the same” must be used carefully in order to avoid blurring the distinction between numerical and qualitative identity. Although two things may be qualitatively identical (identical in the sense of sharing all the same qualities), they cannot be numerically identical (identical in the sense of being the same thing) unless they are in fact only one thing and not two separate things. To say that two things are one and the same is therefore to say not only that there is no difference between them, but also that they are in fact only one thing and not two separate things. Thus, for example, Los Angeles and the largest city in California are one and the same, because the name “Los Angeles" and the description “the largest city in California” refer to the same thing (the name and the description have qualitatively and numerically identical referents). For two things to be one and the same, they must be devoid of not only any qualitative, but also any numerical difference or distinction.