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Bennett and Hacker: Village Idiots or Philosophers?

David Longley David at longley.demon.co.uk
Thu Feb 12 09:07:30 EST 2004

In article <y21kbro4cu1w.fsf at cobra.cs.Virginia.EDU>, Ashlie Benjamin 
Hocking <abh2n at cobra.cs.Virginia.EDU> writes
>"Glen M. Sizemore" <gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com> writes:
>> Why take the language at face value in one instance, and not in the other?
>> If "I remembered that I gave a lecture" is to "recall an event," why isn't
>> "I remember that I have to give a lecture today" a matter of "recalling an
>> event?"
>It _is_. The event that is being recalled that you "have to give a
>lecture today". This is not a future event, this (as worded) is a
>present event based on a past event (namely, that you committed to
>giving a lecture today). If you wanted to be tricky, you could use the
>better (IMO) example "I remembered that I will give a lecture
>today". As phrased, this definitely suggests that the speaker is
>remembering a future event. Of course, most people will (correctly)
>infer that the speaker is actually remembering that in the past he
>committed to giving a lecture in the future, since one cannot remember
>events that have not yet occurred.

What you've just done at the end there is translate the statement into 
another so that it is consistent with your preconceptions or "meaning". 
That's one of the problems with (or features of) intensional contexts. 
But such moves generally amount to little more than a reshuffle in an 
intensional language game. The point to appreciate surely, is that one 
should really just look at how these phrases are used (and used 
holophrasically). Looking inside the phrases amounts to an attempt to 
quantify in where one shouldn't.

>Of course, what one says (or writes) is not always what one means
>_literally_, even if one has not misspoken. When Carl Sandburg wrote
>"the fog comes on little cat feet", the author assumed that the reader
>would not take him literally. Similarly, most speakers (or authors)
>who make the above statement ("I remembered that I will give a lecture
>today") are assuming that the listeners will understand what is meant,
>although at least one speaker/author (you) would not mean what most of
>us (I believe) would assume is meant by such a statement.

And there you really go and confirm it.

>Btw, IMO this belief is not anathema to behaviorism any more than it
>is to cognitive psychology. (I only bring this up because somehow this
>schism keeps being brought into discussions that seem completely
>irrelevant to it.)
>                          | "Good and evil both increase at compound
>Ben Hocking, Grad Student | interest. That is why the little
>hocking at cs.virginia.edu   | decisions you and I make every day are of
>                          | such infinite importance." - C. S. Lewis

David Longley

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