Sunday, 14 November 2021

Bilgrami's bonkers theory of semantic intentions

The English word 'meaning' has its roots in the Old English 'maenan'- to have something in mind, to remember something, to intend something. However, semantics, as the study of meaning, need not restrict itself to what is produced by Minds. It can look at things produced by a computer or an eco-system which lacks any sentience. For this reason Semantics is not 'univocal'- i.e. it can use its own vocabulary in different ways for different categories of things. Of course, for any practical purpose, we can give a Semantics 'univalent foundations' such that discourse can be 'meaningful' rather than a dialogue between the deaf or one where everybody uses words in their own idiosyncratic way.

Normativity refers to either observed empirical regularities of an ethological type or, more strictly, to ethical or evaluative propositions. This is the realm of 'insha'- the imperative- as opposed to 'khabar'- the alethic or factual. Islam makes this distinction most clearly and Islamic jurisprudence retains great clarity and appeal precisely for this reason. One reason for this happy state of affairs is Islam's foundational Monism or 'Tawhid' which guarded Islam from Gnostic nonsense involving emanations and hypostases and so forth. 

Akeel Bilgrami, though from a part of the Islamic world where precisely this sort of nonsense- e.g. that of Sirhindi saying the Ka'ba was higher than the Prophet- had let to sectarian blood-letting and political disorder- rejects a straightforward positive/normative disjunction in order to vastly extend the scope of normativity to not merely what is observable or can be envisaged when making a plan, but to all sorts of other things whose functions in discourse are merely instrumental or conventional.

Bilgrami takes up Wittgenstein's metaphor of 'following a rule' as an aspect of 'language games' in order to construct an ever metastastising semantics which can never cash out as anything useful or salutary.

In a certain sense, Meaning is normative unless the word normative is meaningless.  Suppose there was a thing with a meaning which conformed to no known linguistic, semiotic or pragmatic norm. Then we would say 'we don't know the meaning of this thing. We can't even be sure it has a meaning. It is an enigma.' This does not mean that the thing means 'enigma'. It just means the meaning is unknown and may not exist. 

A separate issue is that a meaning may not be 'sayable'- i.e. may not correspond to any proposition or what the Stoics called 'lekta'. It is outside what Wittgenstein called the 'totality of facts' which that fool considered to constitute the world. Most meanings are not reducible to 'axiomata'- propositions which are either true or false. Some may contribute to a process which results in the affirmation or denial of a fact or proposition. Most don't. They never 'bottom out' or 'cash out' as anything. As Chesterton said 'Man knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless that the colors of an autumn forest....Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them , in all their tones and semi-tones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary civilized stockbroker can really produce out of his own inside noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all the agonies of desire.' Obviously, this isn't actually the case. However for some particular juristic or administrative purpose we may deem a protocol bound, buck stopped, process to impute propositional meaning to what is otherwise vague and inchoate. Thus, I may deny, as a matter of amour propre, that this book is a humorous exercise in imbecility which rather tends rather to exalt than denigrate its several objects by contrasting their careerist stupidity with my merely amateur and unpaid stabs in that direction; yet, if dragged before a court of law, I may be acquitted of libel or defamation on the grounds that such indeed is the case.

Meaning is normative and appears to refer to 'inter-subjective' propositions or lekta because any protocol bound discourse which is potentially 'buck-stopped' (i.e. which terminates in a decision with a normative tie to action) has, or seeks to have, this property. However, even so, lekta might be subsumed by Logos rather than be posited to exist independently. But that Logos may itself be beyond mortal ken for founded upon mysteries of faith- which may also be the reason we consider the 'displacement activity' which is philosophy as deserving a place in the Academy.

Akeel Bilgrami, in a festschrift for Rohit Parikh, worse confounds his discipline's confusion on this matter, by assuming that in addition to lekta being separate from Logos, they are also separated from intentionality. We are now in a Gnostic nightmare where the Word is separate from, not merely He who utters it, but the intentionality of its incarnation. We can now have a Trinity at war with itself and its emanations. 

Bilgrami writes-

This paper is a response prompted by a dissatisfaction with the prevalent discussion of the last many years on the subject of meaning and normativity following the publication of Kripke’s book on Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following. It will present an argument to put into doubt what is a fairly widespread assumption about the normative nature of linguistic meaning by looking at the relation that linguistic meaning bears to an agent’s linguistic intentions.

For heaven's sake why? There is no deterministic relationship between what one intends to say and the meaning of what you actually say. No doubt some people come closer than others to the ideal of the language user but the thing requires great skill. It probably also requires keeping silent about things which one can't speak clearly. 

 The heart of the argument will be constructed using considerations from Frege

which are irrelevant. The fact that some guy wrote nonsense is not any type of consideration.

 on the nature of meaning and sense and its relation to questions of self-knowledge. But before presenting the argument, I will need to set the stage with some discussion of Wittgenstein and Grice. In several passages in his mature work where Wittgenstein discusses the nature of intentional phenomena, focusing most particularly on intentions (as well as expectations), he is keen to distinguish viewing them as mental processes and experiences from viewing them in terms of the intentions’ (or expectations’) fulfillment. This latter is the idea of elements in the world (including our own actions) that are in accord with these intentional states. Thus, just as Rohit Parikh’s arriving at an Indian restaurant in midtown Manhattan one evening is a fulfillment of a certain expectation that I have (the expectation that we will have dinner together there that evening) so is my act of taking an umbrella a fulfillment of my intention to do so on a rainy morning. Both are described as being in “accord” with the intentional states in questions. The terms “fulfillment” and “accord” convey something that is describable as “normative” in a very broad sense of the term.

No. We can imagine a person who has no ethical or moral intuitions. That sociopath would still have expectations though wholly lacking any normative element in his makeup. 

Bilgrami has not hit upon a 'broad sense of the term' normative. He has hit upon a foolish and false sense of the term such that an antinomian who is deliberately violating norms would be said to be acting normatively. Would Bilgrami say that a 'broad sense of the term' 'Dead' included being very much alive?

 Things are “right” in some sense when there is accord and fulfillment of this kind, wrong if not.

Just as being dead means being alive in some sense and 'no' means 'yes' and writing this paper means Akeel Bilgrami is sucking Hitler's cock. 

 Such is the minimal normativity of intentional states.

Intentional states may be purely positive, antinomian or otherwise lacking in any connection with normativity. 

 Sticking with “intentions”, which will be the particular intentional state that is the focus of my paper, if I were to intend to take an umbrella but took a walking stick instead of an umbrella by mistake, then it would be, well, “a mistake” by these broadly conceived normative lights.

No 'normative lights' are involved unless it is Bilgrami's duty to have an umbrella. But this is not the case. True, Bilgrami may say 'Woe unto me! I've failed to live up to my personal code as an umbrella carrying person! My dereliction of duty arose out of the impure thoughts by which I am besieged. Lo! I shall now chop off my bollocks so as to be free of the demon of lust.' However, we may consider him to be a nut-case rather one guilty of a normative infraction. 

 So Wittgenstein’s view (not explicitly made in these terms, but implicitly very much part of his picture of intentionality in his mature work) is that the very idea of intention is such that it generates an ideal or norm of correctness, 

is wrong. The man was crazy. What fucking intention did he have when he went down the road of such utter stupidity? What 'ideal' of correctness did that cunt arrive at? Nothing at all. Like Bilgrami he wrote self-contradictory nonsense. Von Neumann was creating the mathematical foundations for game theory- which is useful- at the same time that Witlesstein was blathering on about 'language games'. Parikh has done quite useful work. Bilgrami has been having a prolonged wank. 

something by the lights of which one can assess one’s actions for being correct or wrong, depending on whether they are or fail to be in accord with the intention.

Coz that's what Shakespeare and Ghalib did- right? They weren't pleased if, in the course of a mundane conversation, a lapidary phrase came to their lips- simply because that was not their intention. 

I'd be delighted if I could find something sensible in Bilgrami- though, clearly, it would not be sensible to have any such intention. 

 What is the philosophical force behind such talk of the normativity of intentional states?

Philosophical farce would be more like it.

 Its force is contrastive: not merely a contrast with the apparently processual and experiential aspects of mentality just mentioned, but also with what Kripke brought to centre stage in his book on Wittgenstein, the dispositional character of mental states. 

A mental state could attribute anything at all to mental states. The property of being contrastive thus merely means mental states which bother with differentiating mental states. of a stupid and useless type. 

Put most generally, the contrasts are asserted with anti-psychologistic ends in mind: 

So what? They are still shit. If mental states serve no useful ends, the fitness landscape will tend to prune them back. 

the normative is set against the psychologism of process and of inner experiences as well as of mental tendencies and propensities.

The problem here is that the normative is meaningless save in terms of 'psychologism' and 'inner experiences' and 'mental tendencies and propensities'. We don't lecture our cars when the breakdown nor deliver sermons to the dish-washer when it fails to perform to an acceptable standard. 

Since these contrasts are well known in the discussion of these topics, I will not labour them here beyond saying that normativity, so conceived, is said to be constitutive of intentional states,

How can this be? We may form an intention to conform to higher norms than any known to us- e.g. I may want to write better poetry without having the first clue as to what norms are involved in doing so. But those norms, being unknown, can't constitute that intentional state. 

A psychopath may say that his intention to rape and kill a stranger was actually constituted by that innocent victim. He himself had no bad intentions. It is unfair to blame or punish him.

 and if that is so, it puts into doubt that the processual, the inner experiential, and the dispositional, can really be what is primary in our philosophical understanding of intentionality. 

Bilgrami Sahib, your philosophical understanding is shit. 

There is no gainsaying the centrality of such a normative element in the very idea of intentions,

This simply isn't the case. Intentions are central to normativity- we want to be good or we want to be bad- but the reverse isn't the case. 

 in particular, and intentionality, in general. What I want to question is whether what is true as a general point is true in the case of linguistic intentions, in particular the intentions that speakers have regarding the meanings of their words. 

These differ in a judicial context- e.g. interpreting a Will or Trust document- from a psychological or philosophical context. Truth is irrelevant here. Within each separate context a different intention-to-mean is imputed such that utility is yielded to whoever is doing the imputation.

Might these not be a very special kind of exception to the generality of this truth, providing a sort of limiting or degenerate case of intention and intentionality? Here is how I have allowed myself to think of it. 2. Let us ask: what are the intentions one has when one says things or means things with one’s words (restricting ourselves to assertoric statements for the sake of simplicity and convenience)? Since Grice’s canonical analysis (I should say “analyses” since he fortified his initial analysis in subsequent work) of meaning linked meaning with intention, let us take that as a point of departure. The first part of his analysis points out that when we say things we have certain nested intentions to have some effect on hearers.

This may or may not be the case. But, equally, such 'nested intentions' may exist without anything being said or otherwise communicated. 

 In the assertoric case, the intention is to get them to acquire certain beliefs – say, about the world in one’s near vicinity.

This is merely an imputation for a specific- and foolish- purpose. Assertions may be strategic. They may be merely formal. If I have the intention to get you to acquire certain beliefs regarding the state of the world rather than an intention to get you to believe I am speaking truthfully with regard to it, then my course of action would be very different. I may present myself as an inveterate liar of low intelligence who gives away the true state of affairs precisely because I am so anxious, for some transparently mercenary reason, to conceal it. 

 Thus for instance, someone says “That is a snake” with the intention to get someone else to believe that there is a snake in one’s path.

There is no such intention. A clear and present danger does not cause us to worry about what others believe or don't believe. In saying 'Fuck! That's a snake!' we both relieve our own emotions, alert others, and get the adrenaline surge required for a flight or fight response. 

 (In Grice’s analysis this intention, as I said, nests with two others – at least – whose point is to ensure that the case is a case of getting someone to believe something by telling someone something rather than merely getting it across to them, something that could not be ensured with just that one intention. What prompts these other two nesting intentions that go into the first part of the analysis are not relevant to the concerns of this paper.)

Because this paper is already shitty enough.

 But, in Grice, this analysis invoking these three nested intentions is supposed to be just the beginning of an analysis of meaning. One has to add various things to move from an analysis of speaker’s meaning, which this analysis provides, to an analysis of sentence meaning. The speaker’s meaning of the words uttered is analyzed in terms of the specific purpose or intention that the speaker has on that occasion (in the assertoric cases, to get someone to believe something). The sentence  meaning is the meaning of the words that the speaker takes his words to have – in Grice’s rhetoric – “timelessly”. 

But no speaker takes his words to have any 'timeless' meaning. This is true even of the sentence 'I love you, Mom.' It doesn't mean that when we get into a Time travelling De Lorean and meet up with Mom at her high school prom, that we will say 'I love you' to her. We understand that this might cause Mom to fall for us and thus turn down Dad's proposal and thus cause us never to be born. 

This contrast between what the analysis provides in this first stage with the three nested intentions (i.e., speaker’s meaning) and sentence meaning is most explicitly visible when they fail to coincide even on the surface, as for instance in metaphors or in indirect speech acts. In a metaphor, one might say some words, such as the familiar, “Man is a wolf” with the intention of getting someone to believe that “Human beings are competitive”,

Wolves aren't competitive. The cooperate to hunt down and eat creatures- including human beings. To say 'man is a wolf to man' is to say that men, unlike wolves, may attack, kill or otherwise despoil others of their own species.

 in indirect speech acts one might say some words, such as, “The train is about to leave” with the intention to get someone to believe that they ought to walk faster and get on the train. 

But, if that is the intention, why not say 'walk fast! You'll miss your train!' The answer is that the real intention is to be polite and avoid voicing what might appear to be a criticism or a desire to see the back of the fellow in question.

The three intentions of Grice’s analysis do not provide the analysis of the sentence meaning, only of what the speaker meant to convey to the hearer on that occasion with the utterance of those words. The speaker does not take the respective sentences to mean that human beings are competitive or that someone ought to walk faster.

 He does intend to get the hearer to believe that human beings are competitive in the one case and that he ought to walk faster in the other, but that is merely speaker’s meaning; what he takes the sentences he utters to mean is something quite else. 

Perhaps. Perhaps not. It depends.

Grice gave additional analysis of the sentence meaning that the utterance possesses and I will not expound here what that is since it is not Gricean exegesis that I am primarily interested in. In a careful commentary on Grice, Stephen Schiffer was the first to argue that Grice needs to bring in something like a truth-conditional analysis of the sentence meaning – “timeless meaning” – that the speaker takes his words to have, over and above what he means on that occasion with the utterance of that sentence. 

This is foolish. The whole point about 'implicature' is that it refers to a sequent calculus with an arbitrary and unknown 'cut rule'. Truth conditionals have no purchase.

Since truth-conditional analyses of sentence meaning are very familiar by now,

we know they have no purchase where conditional tautologies may or may not imply other conditional tautologies. There is no state of the world deterministically linked to the sentence.

 let me for the sake of convenience assume that it is they rather than some other analysis which will be the best account of sentence meaning.

This is a wholly foolish assumption. Why no assume, for the sake of convenience, that the rest of this paper is shite and thus there is no point writing it?

 (If someone were to doubt Schiffer’s claim and give some other analysis of sentence meaning, that should not spoil what I want to say here, since all I want to say, is that even in Grice there is a distinction between speaker’s meaning given in his initial analysis with those three nested intentions, and sentence meaning. Which analysis best accounts for the latter makes no difference to my purposes.)

Because that purpose is foolish. The world has moved on since Grice.

 In my examples, the truth-conditions of the sentences by no means coincide with the initial Gricean analysis of the speakers’ meaning. It would be quite wrong to say that the speaker has in mind that “‘Man is a wolf’ is true if and only if human beings are competitive” or “‘The train is about to leave’ is true if and only if the hearer ought to walk faster and get on the train”. Rather, he takes it to be the case that “‘Man is a wolf’ is true if and only if man is a wolf”

That is irrelevant. The proposition is not 'Man is always and everywhere an x' It is Man is an x under certain conditions. This is a Gentzen type conditional tautology which we understand as meaning 'sometimes people can be as cruel to other people as a wolf is to its prey.' 

 and “‘The train is about to leave’ is true if and only if the train is about to leave”. 

The train is expected to leave. Nobody can be sure it will actually leave. 

These are his sentence-meanings and they depart on the visible surface, in these examples, from the speaker’s meaning. 

Sadly, any given 'sentence-meaning' is defeasible. They can't bottom out as 'atomic propositions'. Still for any given protocol bound, buck stopped, juristic, administrative or professional context, a set of 'sentence-meanings' may be deemed to be true. But this decision could be reversed. 

And the important point remains that even in cases where there is no visible departure of this obvious kind as there is in metaphors or indirect speech acts, one should nevertheless acknowledge the difference between speaker’s meaning and sentence meaning. 

No. We should acknowledge that 'sentence meaning' is a movable feast. 

If someone were to say “Human beings are competitive” with the intention to get someone to believe that human beings are competitive that would still leave intact the distinction between speaker’s meaning and sentence meaning 

but it would also leave intact the distinction between the speaker's meaning and the sentence's meaning to my neighbor's cat. Furthermore the distinction between the sentence's meaning to my neighbor's cat and the sentence's meaning to a flea on my neighbor's cat too would remain intact. But making such distinctions is silly. It is 'uneconomic'. 'Artha' in Sanskrit means both meaning and economic usage. The principle of parsimony or Occam's razor militates against preserving or multiplying such distinctions. 

since the latter would be given by the truth conditions of the sentence, not the intention  to get someone to believe something that happens to coincide (in this but not other cases) with the truth-conditions of the sentence. 

If the intention is to get the neighbor's cat, or the flea on the neighbor's cat, to believe the sentence then this is indeed the case. However if the intention is to get a rational being to agree then 'Muth rationality' prevails provided the intentionality itself is rational. The truth condition for the sentence is the same as the criteria of success for the intention which utters it. 

Obviously, in real life there is ambiguity and imperfection and most communication is of an imperative and often inarticulate or oxymoronic sort. Mum says 'if you climb that tree I will break your leg!' but we understand she means that we are likely to fall and break our leg if we climb that tree and that's why we shouldn't do it. We mightn't mind hobbling around with our leg in a cast for a few months, but it would distress Mummy and add to her cares. 

Parikh's theorem, published around the time that Philosophy went down the rabbit hole of Gettier cases, should have militated against this type of silliness. Parikh established that some context-free languages can't have an unambiguous grammar which is itself context-free. I suppose one could say 'intentions are a language' or even that the Freudian unconscious is structured like- and therefore is- a language- but such languages must either be ambiguous or else both intentions and the unconscious can be easily hacked. Thus, even if this were truly the case, only those organisms which have encrypted their intentions and unconscious mental processes would now survive as other than zombies or animals domesticated by a superior species. Sadly, this consideration also vitiates Parikh's own 'Social Software' research project.

There is a source of possible confusion here against which we should protect ourselves. I, following Grice and others, have said that when a speaker says something, the sentence meaning is something independent of the intentions he has which are emphasized in Grice’s initial analysis, because the initial analysis is only of speaker’s meaning, of what he means on that occasion.

Grice was speaking of cooperative principles for 'ideal' speakers- which is fine in an Academic context because kids go to Collidge to larn to spick gud, innit?- but those kids, if they wanna get high or get laid, have to abide by the Schelling focal conventions surrounding those particular activities otherwise they will be called a narc and won't get nobody to punch their V-card. 

I suppose Akeel was a 'good boy' and didn't go in for such shenanigans. In any case, it's nice that he at least pretends to be a virgin who never got high despite managing to get to Amrika back when everybody was banging everybody while out of their gourd on various drugs. True, he had first been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford but it was the early Seventies and so rumpy-pumpy did occur amidst its dreaming spires. 

 This may give the quite wrong impression that sentence meaning is not to be something that he means at all, that it attaches to the words he utters but are not meant by him, in the same sense. But it is indeed he (the speaker) who also takes the sentence he utters to have a sentence meaning over and above what he intends someone to believe with the utterance of that sentence. The speaker is not left out of the picture in sentence meaning. Just because sentence meaning is contrasted with speaker’s meaning, it doesn’t follow that it is not speakers who take their utterances to have sentence meaning. It is not as if the sentences uttered by speakers possess meaning in some ulterior way and the speakers who speak them don’t take them to have that meaning. (Grice’s rhetoric of “timeless” as opposed to “occasional” meaning – clearly echoing the “sentence”/“speaker” meaning distinction – may also mislead in the same way and should be guarded against. Just because so-called “timeless” meaning is contrasted with what a speaker means on an occasion, it doesn’t mean that it is not the speaker on that occasion who takes it to have that timeless meaning.)

Bilgrami is merely highlighting the fact that there may be some ideal way to express our intention and that after we struck out at the disco and had to return to our Hall of Residence with out Virginity intact, then we could have a long discussion over the cocoa and chocolate hobnobs about why our various chat-up lines failed. My memory is that there was always a bespectacled, broad-beamed, girl who materialized on such doleful occasions. Her eyes would flash as she uttered some feminist bromide and our consolation was that she was probably even more sexually frustrated than we were. Then we discovered she was doing the Rugby team. Sad. 

 Let us now return to the question of the normativity of intentional states as laid out in Wittgenstein’s characterization of them, in particular his normative characterization of intentions. Our question, as I said, is the relation between the normative nature of intentions

I had no fucking normative intentions when I went to the Disco. Sadly, I came across as a geek who would want to hold hands and take long walks rather than get up to all sorts of antinomian hi-jinks- as opposed to 15 seconds in the missionary position followed by an interminable monologue on which Accountancy firm offered a better stepping stone into Merchant Banking. 

 and the normative nature of meaning. 

I suppose intentions could be said to be normative- e.g. the father asking his daughter's prom-date whether his intentions are honorable- but this is merely a manner of speaking. Everybody understands that the intention is pre-normative. You want to have sex- the wilder and more transgressive the better. But, if you want to have sex with this particular girl then you have to accept certain norms. There is a trade-off here. The thing is economic and because it is economic, there will be norms and 'unwritten rules' and even changing Shelling focal conventions and coordination games and arbitrage on discoordination games and so on and so forth. 

What is foolish is to say that, normatively speaking,  lekta is different from Logos and intention is different from lekta and intention is different from meta-intention and meta-intention is different from cognition and cognition is different from itself.

In particular if, as Grice shows, intentions are deeply involved in meaning, what I want to explore is the extent to which the normative nature of intentions imparts, or is of a piece with, the alleged normativity of meaning. 

This is a stupid type of atomism unless Normativity really is atomic- and Chemists can isolate good norms in test tubes and then add them to the water supply so as to render Society awfully nice. 

Alternatively, you get a just-so soteriology such that there is an aashrav or influx of normative atoms into organic life. Instincts have a bit of these atoms. Intentions have a bit more. Then meanings are distilled from intentions so there is higher normativity content. Then Faith is distilled from meanings and has higher normativity yet. Finally, one is united to the Godhead which is like pure concentrated normativity dude. 

What is often said in the literature on this subject is this. Our terms (at any rate many of them) apply to things, and to misapply them is to make a mistake with our terms; and the very possibility of such mistakes amounts to the normativity built into the meanings of our terms. Thus we are right when we apply the term “snake” to snakes but not to any other thing. When related to our intentional utterances of sentences with these terms, such a view of the normativity of meaning amounts, then, to something like this. We intend to say things with the words we utter. Thus – staying, as we have, with assertoric utterances – one might utter, “That is a snake” with the intention of applying those words to a snake in one’s path. Now, should it turn out that what is in front of us is, say, a rope and not a snake, we would have gotten things wrong; and that possibility of getting things wrong redeems in the particular case of meaning things with ones words, Wittgenstein’s general idea (true of all intentions whether they are in play in meaning or in anything else) that intentions are, in their essence, normative. 

No. They are facts- e.g. that guy is horny or that other guy has a bad temper- but they have no essence, i.e. aren't true in all possible worlds, and are not normative in themselves.

The rope seen as snake is, of course, Advaitic but 'the possibility of getting things wrong' can only 'redeem' the notion that all phenomenological existence is delusive. The true facts of the case are out of reach. This does not mean we can't say 'intentions are in essence normative' or 'essences are intentionally normative' or 'essences are normatively intentionality save on Tuesdays when they are wildly antinomian with your spouse in a seedy Motel room.' 

Such intentions as the one just mentioned with which one utters words such as the ones just cited, are just examples of intentions targeting specifically, not actions such as taking one’s umbrella but rather linguistic actions. Just as one might make a mistake and not take one’s umbrella (taking a  walking stick instead), so also one might make a mistake and say, “That is a snake” in the presence of a rope. In both cases, it is the possibility of such mistakes that reveals the intrinsic normativity of intentions,

but at the price of also revealing that essences are banging your wife in a Motel Room every Tuesday. This is humiliating. Why go down this road?  

but in the second case in particular this normativity of intentions captures for meaning (a notion, we have acknowledged to be undeniably tied to intentions

only if we are as stupid as shit) 

via the intentions with which words are uttered, a special case of this same normativity. Thus the normativity of the meaning of terms that comes from the idea of the correct or incorrect application of our terms passes over into the normativity of the intentions with which we use our terms in utterances.

and then passes over into essences which sodomize our spouse in a seedy Motel Room every Tuesday much to our chagrin.

We act in accord with these intentions to use words, the intention, say, to use the words “That is a snake” to apply to a snake, only when we do so in the presence of snakes, not in the presence of anything else. 

No we don't. I say, 'that's a worm, that's a snake, whereas that through which I'm pissing is a fucking python mate!' Well, I used to do so till I was banned from the pub. 

That it should pass over in this way might be said to be a very important claim in Wittgenstein because unlike Platonic conceptions of the normativity of meaning, shunned by him, this sort of normativity does not owe to abstractions such as Plato’s “forms” or “ideas” but merely to the intentions with which words are used by linguistic agents.

But Bilgrami just gave those intentions essences which could be buggering your spouse every Tuesday. What's more she goes ass to mouth and fucking loves it. All you get is a quick handie on your birthday. Sad. 

 Misapplication of a term is not the violation of a norm because it falls afoul of some abstracted ideal (the CONCEPT snake) but because terms are used in utterances with intentions and we can act in ways that fail to be in accord with those intentions. 

No. We may have an intention but fail to act on it. This may be because we fear 'misapplication of a term'- e.g. thinking a rope is a snake and thus screaming hysterically and shitting oneself- or because we just can't be arsed. So what if the thing is a snake. So what if it bites me and I die horribly. My wife is going ass-to-mouth every Tuesday with some essence or other in a seedy Motel Room. Goodbye cruel world!

That is what is often said in the philosophical literature.

Which is shit because the discipline became adversely selective. Bilgrami says he went in for philosophy because Eng Lit was too hard! His students, however, flunked finger painting or basket weaving before finally finding their metier under the supervision of a moronic mentor. 

Bilgrami understands that we may be mistaken when we say somebody else had a mistaken intention whereas the mistake involved execution or perception or something else which was not intentional at all. However, he does not draw the obvious conclusion- viz. intentions don't have essences- preferring to talk tangled bollocks.

It is 'theory of mind' which makes it useful to speak of intentions. But this does not mean intentions are restricted to those having a mind or to 'mindful' actions. Thus a group may have an intention which no member of it does. A wholly spontaneous action may betray an intention unknown to the actor. 

For any specific purpose, it may be useful to distinguish a 'meaning intention' from other sorts of meaning. But this is merely a way of speaking. The thing may be useful to 'metanoia' or the smoothing over of ruffled feathers or diplomacy or negotiations of some prickly sort. But this is a type of meta-metaphoricity whose object is compromise or accommodation of an economic type. In some narrow juristic field, an excessive akribeia- or seeking for precision- may be de rigueur and some such linguistic somersaulting considered par for the course, but the thing is too easy to do. We may pay lawyers or politicians or diplomats to do this sort of shit so as to put off a decision but there is no reason for philosophers to engage in this stupidity. 

Suppose when I utter, “That is a snake”, I have a meaning intention that targets, just the word “snake”. 

Suppose Bilgrami is a watermelon, 

What shall we identify as the meaning intention for that term? 

Harry Styles singing 'Watermelon sugar' while your spouse goes ass to mouth on some essence or other in a motel room next Tuesday. 

Should it be, “I intend to apply ‘snake’ to a snake” or should it be “I intend to utter a term, a predicate, that is satisfied if and only if there is a snake there”. I claim that it is the latter intention that is properly thought of as a meaning intention. 

This is certainly true in the sense that Bilgrami will be satisfied if and only if there is a Harry Styles singing 'Watermelon sugar' as his spouse or significant other goes ass to mouth with some essence or other in a motel room next Tuesday. 

Intentions aren't and oughtn't to be bound by 'truth conditions'- i.e. possible states of the world. Indeed if all possible states of the world were known in advance, evolution would not have occurred and no such thing as language or intention or meaning would exist. There would just be the watermelon-sugar of Bilgrami going ass to mouth on himself in a seedy Motel room on a planet in a galaxy far far away. 

What is the point of writing shite if

the issue then becomes: once we properly identify the intentions relevant to meaning, what follows about the normativity of meaning? 

Is Bilgrami's intention to make us laugh at him as big fat Indian imbecile? The word for meaning in Urdu is 'matlab'. We speak of a 'matlabi' person as one who is self-interested and who seeks to manipulate others. Bilgrami is 'matlabi' in that he got a perch in the Western Academy at the price of writing meaningless shite which nevertheless served a malign purpose. Bilgrami is Muslim. His religion has a superior philosophy in this respect. Thus his mindless and meaningless shite is useful evidence that even if Islam- or any other religion- is superior, nevertheless, darkies be stooooopid. All dem sand niggers and dot Indians are lining up to teach our shite. This is outward and visible confirmation that American Manifest Destiny is a real thing. The whole world yearns for more and more 'regime change' coz 'when America fucks you in the ass, Democracy is the reach-around'.

In other words, if such things as mistaking ropes for snakes does not amount to the failures of accord with one’s meaning intentions that are said to reveal the normativity of meaning in assertoric utterances such as “That is a snake”, what sort of thing does reveal it?

Mistaking a rope for a snake is an error of visual perception. Parapraxis- i.e the Freudian slip- is a verbal error where you intend to say one thing but unintentionally reveal your true, but unconscious motive. Thus a young virgin who is constantly saying 'that is a snake!' while covering her vagina may be said to reveal the normativity of meaning in assertortic utterances to a the young man named Norman who happens to be courting her. 

 I pose this question in just this way in order to invite the following suspicion in the reader: can anything amount to a failure to act in accord with the intention we have now properly identified as being relevant to the meaning of utterances of that kind?

Since no 'proper identification' was made the answer, by the principle of explosion, is yes. The neighbor's cat saying meow or dancing the can can is one such example. 

 If, as the suspicion is supposed to suggest, the answer to this question is “No”, then one puts into doubt the idea that meaning is normative, at least to the extent that such normativity is supposed to derive from the (undeniable) normativity of intentionality, in general, and of intentions, in particular. I think it is arguable that the answer to this question is “No”. 

But the idea that meaning is normative is already in doubt as is the idea that such talk is really meaningful. 

 Once properly identified, we have learnt that the intention relevant to meaning targets the truth conditions of one’s words.

We can't learn any such thing because it is egregiously false and repugnant to reason. The intention relevant to meaning targets our response. If I am playing roulette and people say 'this guy is on fire!', the correct response is to put your stake on whatever I'm betting on. On the other hand, if you hear me screaming obscenities because my coat is on fire, you should get a fire extinguisher. 

 Hence the failure to fulfill that intention would presumably occur only if one failed to get right what their truth conditions are – as opposed to occurring when the truth conditions, which one gets right, fail to hold (in our example, when there is no snake but a rope in front of one). How, then, might one fail to get right what the truth conditions of the sentences one utters, are? 

This is silly. The intention in saying 'that's a snake' is not to convey that there is definitely a snake out there. It is to put us on our guard that there may be a poisonous snake in the vicinity.

Suppose you go on an excursion to the Jungle. The guide says 'that's a snake'. This causes you to shit yourself. You sue the tour company. Under cross examination, the guide admits that he was wrong. He mistook a tree branch for a snake. But he did not intend you to soil your pants even though it was obvious that you were a very cowardly person with incontinence issues. The judge agrees that the guides intention was not to assert that a snake existed and pant shitting should occur. Rather, the guide's intention was to put the tour group on guard against venomous reptiles in the vicinity. 

One clear sense in which it might be supposed that one can fail to get them right – or better, one clear source for one’s failing to get them right – is if one does not know what they are.

This is the clear sense in which everybody is always failing Metacatachretics and should attend Summer School. But this type of failure is something we consider utterly meaningless. We dismiss it the same way that we dismiss charges of having committed genocide on billions of imaginary beings or accusations of raping invisible goats.

 (There is another supposed source, which I will take up a little later.) The idea here will have to be that I don’t know what the truth conditions of my words are, so I intend that they have certain truth conditions, but they are not the correct truth conditions of those words. 

But 'truth conditions' are meaningless shite cooked up by stupid philosophers. It is a different matter that there may be protocols which must be observed in some particular profession or for the purpose of carrying out some particular type of enterprise. But protocols are not 'truth conditions'. They represent 'artificial reason' or a sequent calculus of a particular type. 

So a question arises: why should the truth conditions of one’s words not always be what one intends them to be? 

Because we are not omniscient.

We will return to this question at the end. But first let’s ask: how exactly is it that one can intend our words to possess truth conditions they don’t in fact possess as a result of one not knowing what the truth conditions are? Let’s set up an example, a familiar one from the philosophical literature, of such an occurrence. A medical ignoramus intends to say some words that are true if and only if he has a disease either of the joints or ligaments in his thigh. And he says, “I have arthritis in my thigh”. He doesn’t know that arthritis is a disease of the joints only. So he has said something with truth conditions other than the truth conditions he intended. He has failed to live in accord with his intention. This looks like an example of how, when one does not know what the words one intends to utter mean, one can say something that fails to live up to an intention that (unlike the intention in the example about snakes and ropes) is properly identified as being relevant to meaning. 

Plenty of people say things of this sort. They may even say 'I got the arthur-rittin in my thigh somefin' chronic'. The Doctor examines the joint in question. The man's intention was clear enough. The Doctor acts in accordance with the norms governing her profession. It does not matter that the patient misspoke. What he said was good enough because his intention could be divined easily. 

 The crucial task now is to assess this claim that one may not know the meanings of the words one intends to speak.

This happens all the time to stupid people like me. I'm constantly ringing the Dell help line and saying things like 'I think my hard drive has gone floppy.' The lady on the other end gets me to plug in the computer and try again. 

 Here I do not think the primary question to be asked is: what theoretical account of meaning allows it to be the case that a speaker does not know what he means?

A theory of communication which features 'discovery processes' delivers just such an account. Vocational training, or learning by doing, involves discovering the meaning of your communicative actions after the fact. 

 It is easy to devise a number of such accounts and they have been devised ever since Plato’s highly objectivized notions of meaning understood as given in a heavenly world of “forms” or “ideas”, with contemporary versions bringing Plato’s heaven down to earth and calling it “society” or “community”. Any assessment of the claim needs instead to step back

but this would lead to an infinite regress! We need to step forward to concrete examples of people who don't know what they mean but are learning to do so as part of a discovery process. 

 and ask a prior question whether we can tolerate any theoretical account of meaning 

Why tolerate any theoretical account which can't 'pay for itself' through innovation? 

in which we breezily allow speakers to fail to know the meanings or truth conditions of their own intended words, and that, in turn, means stepping even further back to ask: by what criteria shall we decide what is and is not tolerable in a theoretical account of meaning thought of in terms of truth conditions?

But why think in those terms? It hasn't led us anywhere. Meanwhile things like 'unsupervised feature learning' appear to be very useful.

 Responsible stepping back of this sort requires one to at least notice the historical fact that the idea that the meaning of a sentence is given by its truth-conditions was first explicitly formulated in Frege’s doctrine of sense and so it is perhaps in the notion of sense that we should seek the criteria by which we can assess what seems tolerable or not in an account of meaning.

But we know that Frege's approach runs into problems with impredicativity which can only be resolved by a type theory. Vovevodsky's 'univalent foundations' appears the way to go. 

 What we will or will not tolerate will depend, therefore, on stating what the notion of sense was introduced to do and see whether it will do what it was introduced to do, if we allow that one may not know the senses or meanings of one’s words. So let’s ask: what is a notion of sense (or meaning) for? In Frege, as we know, the notion is introduced initially to solve a puzzle about identity.

For mathematics- naive set theory in particular. There was no puzzle about identity for natural language. Why does Bilgrami not mention Pierce's work? Surely, it was more fruitful?

 Though that is the occasion in Frege for theoretically motivating the notion of sense, Frege had in mind very large issues in raising the puzzle about identity – the puzzle is a mere surface reflection of one of the most deep and fundamental issues about the relations between language and mind. 

No such relationship is captured by logicism though, no doubt, there may be a 'fuzzy logic', or other such way in which to capture aspects of mental functioning.

In fact, Frege’s own formulations of the puzzle and his solution to the puzzle don’t always make explicit just how deep and fundamental the issue at stake is. 

Because they were nonsense. 

One way of putting the point at stake is to describe it as follows: to be misinformed or uninformed is not to be irrational. 

It may be. It may not. Ceteris paribus, it is irrational to persist in error or fail to learn what others are learning. 

No account of the mind can confuse these two ways in which a mind can go wrong.

The opposite is the case. Irrationality could always be considered to involve an obstinate clinging to error. After all, logic itself has to be learned, though learned logicians, like Frege, could themselves be shown to have perpetrated howlers. 

 Failures of empirical knowledge and logical error are not to be conflated. 

Why not? Logic has to be learned just like Engineering or Accountancy. There is an empirical component to these disciplines.

The puzzle arises precisely because the examples discussed by Frege (and by Kripke, who raises a slightly different version of it) threaten to conflate them. 

do such threats cause Bilgrami to soil himself? If so he should complain to the Dean. Campuses should be made safe spaces for the likes of Bilgrami.

The protagonist in the puzzle who, ex hypothesi, merely lacks worldly knowledge of the identity of a planet (or in Kripke’s version, a city) is threatened with a charge of irrationality by precisely such an elementary conflation. And it is Frege’s view (though not Kripke’s) that introducing the notion of sense will provide the best solution to the puzzle. It is the notion of sense or meaning which makes it clear that no irrationality, no logical contradiction, is entailed by someone saying, for example, that “Hesperus is bright” and “Phosphorus is not bright” or “Londres et jolie” and “London is not pretty”. So the puzzle lays down a crucial desideratum: we know the protagonist in the puzzle to be someone who merely lacks knowledge of an a posteriori identity,

though this may not be the case. The protagonist may be using language strategically.

 so we must find a way to characterize his mentality (or this fragment of his mentality) as representing a completely consistent state of affairs. 

Why? The thing can't be done. If any fragment of mentality can be fully represented then there would be a route for the migration of biological minds into computer mainframes. But the language they communicate in to each other is unlikely to look anything like natural language. This debate would be rendered otiose.

Since it is the positing of senses to his words (over and above their reference) which, according to Frege, helps us achieve such a representation, nothing should be tolerated in our understanding of senses that prevents them from decisively carrying out this task. 

But having a representation is not necessary to carry out a task. Getting rewarded for it is all that matters.

In other words, nothing should be tolerated in the understanding of the notion of sense or meaning, which will prevent senses from doing what they are supposed to do:

viz do useful, well-rewarded, stuff. Why bother to 

 solve the puzzle

which is simply silly. Philosophical distinctions don't matter because philosophers are stupid and useless.

 and, by doing so, maintain the most fundamental of philosophical distinctions – that between logical error or irrationality and lack of empirical knowledge. 

A useless, question begging, distinction.

The fact is that senses will not decisively solve the Frege style puzzles if it is allowed that we fail to know our own senses or meanings. 

Why not simply treat 'sense' as a Tarskian primitive? It doesn't matter whether we really know its meaning if we are doing useful stuff with it. A Judge may look at a Will written by a stupid and ignorant man and decide that the 'sense' of that document is something quite different from what the cretin wrote down. This is perfectly equitable. 

A failure of transparency in sense will leave it entirely possible that the puzzles about identity can arise one level up and so the puzzles will not be satisfactorily solved; or better, they will not once and for all be arrested.

But 'transparency' does not matter. So what if there is a gap or 'chorismos' between the 'sense' and the 'reference'? If useful stuff still gets done, that's all that matters.

Let me explain. If someone does not know his own senses, he may be in a position to be just as confused as Frege’s protagonist in the puzzle

who isn't confused at all. The guy was merely showing off that he'd read Cicero or visited London. 

 thinking that there are two senses rather than one. Suppose someone wonders, in his ignorance of astronomy: “I wonder if Hesperus is Phosphorus?” To make such a wondering so much as intelligible, a Fregean posits senses. But if the wonderer doesn’t know his own senses, he may similarly wonder, one step up, if the sense of “Hesperus” is the same as the sense of “Phosphorus” (or as in Benson Mates pointed out in an ever so slightly different context of discussion, he may wonder whether – or doubt that – the sense of “bachelor” is the sense of “unmarried man”.) Thus, there is no genuine arrest of the Frege puzzle (and no eventual solution to it, therefore) if it is not laid down as a basic criterion of senses that they be transparent, i.e., known to their possessors.

Which is crazy. Most of us go through our lives using words we don't understand. The pharmacist, or doctor, or computer engineer can understand the 'sense' of our request though we ourselves are unable to grasp the first thing about it.

Of course, it may turn out that the Scientists of today are wrong. Future generations may laugh at the absurdity of their ideas. 

 Without this being laid down, the puzzle can always arise one step up, with protagonists as confused about the identity of their senses as they are about planets and cities. One implication of this – and a very deep one – is that it amounts to something like a proof that senses are not the sorts of things that we can have multiple perspectives on such that one can get their identities confused in the way that we can with planets and cities.

This is even crazier. Not only must we know everything about bio-chemistry when we buy an aspirin at the pharmacy, it is also the case that our 'sense' corresponds to that of the omniscient deity. Why not simply say that we are as Gods? By uttering the right mumbo-jumbo we can create a nicer Universe.  

Whatever senses are, then, they are not the kind of things that planets and cities are. They are not like any thing which allows multiple perspectives on itself and which therefore allows such confusion to be possible. Things on which we can have more than one perspective are by their nature not transparent, even if they are often in fact known. I suspect that it is, at least partly, because Kripke doesn’t quite see this point about the sort of thing senses are that he doesn’t follow Frege in invoking senses when he addresses the puzzle. Those, then, are the considerations that make it intolerable for meanings to not be known by those who speak meaningful words: we will not be guaranteed to solve the Frege puzzles, at least not in a way that arrests them once and for all; and that, in turn, amounts to meanings failing to do the very thing that meanings and senses were introduced to do, viz., allowing one to preserve a fundamental distinction of philosophy between logical error and lack of empirical knowledge. We should therefore regard with suspicion the many accounts of meaning from Plato’s down to the secular and mundane versions of Plato in our own time, which allow such an intolerable outcome as a result of prising apart our meanings from our knowledge of them. The medically ignorant man who says “I have arthritis in my thigh”, therefore, though he certainly makes a mistake, makes a mistake about how the term is used in the social linguistic practice, especially among the medically informed experts. His own linguistic practice is not grooving with theirs. That is his only mistake, apart from the, ex hypothesi, medical ignorance. But within his own linguistic practice where the words on his lips mean and are intended to mean something that is true if and only if he has a disease of the joints or ligaments in his thigh, he says and thinks something that is both self-known to him and something that is perfectly true.

This simply isn't the case. The guy in question would be mightily relieved if the Doctor tells him that he is suffering an allergic reaction. His joints are fine. 

 After I set up more conceptual apparatus, I will say a little more on how to represent this idea of his own individual, idiosyncratic practice. But in case, until then, it seems to the reader that this admission of idiosyncrasy fails to keep faith with facts about how individuals show deference to the social, especially the experts in their society, I should point out that there is no need for the view I am presenting to deny that this medically ignorant protagonist will defer to the experts and wishes to defer to them, should he realize that mistake. Deference is perfectly compatible with the view. All that deference amounts to on this view is that he will change his linguistic behaviour and adopt theirs. He will start speaking as they do. It will not amount to him coming to know more about what he himself means and thinks. He always knew what he meant and thought (something he would and could only fail to know for psychological reasons roughly of the sort Freud studied, not because philosophers have certain secularized Platonist theories about the social aspects of reference and meaning). He has only learnt something about what his fellows, especially the experts, think and how they use words. And because he wishes to defer to the experts he will now start using words as they do and, of course, he will also have become less medically ignorant, more medically knowledgeable. All this follows as straightforward theoretical implications of meeting the desideratum that we must have a decisive solution to the Frege-style puzzles about identity, where by “decisive” I mean a solution that arrests these puzzles. 

Bilgrami is saying people possess some magical power to know the truth in a manner univocal with the omniscient deity. He then says 'deference' causes people to lapse from an equal epistemic status with God. No doubt this is because of Neo-Liberalism and 'manufactured consent' and the Jews in Hollywood. 

I have given this argument for the transparency of meaning or sense to block one alleged source for the failure to act in accord with the intention to say something with certain truth conditions.

Why stop there? Why not give an argument for the transparency of thoughts such that if you think you are a unicorn, then you are actually a unicorn. Sadly, Neo-Liberalism will brainwash you and so you will stop being a unicorn. Fuck you Neo-Liberalism! Fuck you very much!

 It was claimed that we can fail to act on such an intention if we do not know what the truth conditions of our words are and it is this last claim that the considerations about the Frege puzzle have shown is intolerable for any account of meaning to allow. 

Bilgrami finds all sorts of things 'intolerable' because he is actually a unicorn. Apart from 'deference', the other defect with reality Bilgrami detects is 'misspeaking'. 

But I had also said that that it is not the only supposed source. If one has knowledge of the right truth conditions for one’s intended words, can one still get the truth conditions of one’s spoken words wrong? How might one intend to say something with certain (correct) truth conditions but say something with some other (incorrect) truth conditions or with no truth conditions? This can happen only if one misspeaks, if the sounds one produces do not amount to the words one intends to utter – as for instance in slips of the tongue. So, suppose I say, “I am going towndown” with the intention of saying something that has the truth conditions (something that is true if and only if) I am going downtown. The sounds I make do not, it might be said, amount to words that in fact have those truth conditions. (In this particular example, they don’t seem to have any truth conditions.) then, is the second alleged source for failing to live up to our intentions that target truth-conditions. Is this the best way to analyze such cases of misspeaking – to see them as giving rise to such failures?

No. Don't be silly. Psychoanalysts and developmental Psychologists and so forth may achieve useful results by analyzing misspeaking but, for everybody else, there is little point in paying the matter much heed. 

 The issues here are, at bottom, not really different from those already discussed in the cases where the apparent source of the difficulty was an apparent failure to know the meanings of the words one intends to speak. In the present cases, one knows the meanings or truth conditions of the words one intends to speak but not of the words one actually ends up (mis) speaking. 

What you call misspeaking I may call my idiolect. I like saying things like Hamandeggsmith rather than Hammersmith coz I think it's cute. The g.f finds it irritating. 

But the question is why should the words we actually speak fail to have the truth-conditions we intend them to have, even in these cases of misspeaking?

Because truth conditions are unknown and unknowable save perhaps 'at the end of Time' and thus everybody fails them just as they also commit genocide on billions of imaginary goats whom they have sexually interfered with on Tuesday in a Motel Room after you wife went ass to mouth on them. 

Once again: is an account of meaning which allows such a failure tolerable? We would only allow it if we were in thrall to accounts of meaning that allow for the possibility of the meanings of our words, the words we speak on given occasions with intentions, to be such that we are not aware of what they mean, at the time we utter them.

In other words we would only tolerate reality if we admit that we really don't have any type of magical power.

 It is only if it is said that I am not aware of the meanings of the words I misspeak that my misspeaking could be seen as a sign that I have uttered something with different truth conditions than the one I intended or, in the particular example I mentioned (“I am going towndown”), something with no truth conditions at all. 

Either it has the same pragmatic truth conditions- i.e. it is true that Bilgrami was going to a particular part of the City- or truth conditions don't exist for any useful purpose. 

But why shouldn’t misspeakings of this kind get a quite different theoretical treatment, one in which they have just the truth-conditions I intend for them, in which case I am perfectly aware of what my words mean? On this view, the misspeaking is not a case of meaning something one doesn’t intend, only one of producing sounds one didn’t intend to produce.

No. It is possible you were being cute- like me when I say Hamandeggsmith. 

 But those sounds mean just what I intended to mean by the sounds that I intended to make (but didn’t); so I can’t fail to know them. One would have thought this theoretical account keeps better faith with the idea of “misspeaking” because there is nothing amiss with the meaning at all. The alternative view, which I am opposing and which has it that I ended up meaning something I didn’t intend might be capturing something that is better termed mismeaning. But it is misspeaking we want to capture, not mismeaning. 

Why? If there is no 'mismeaning', there was no misspeaking. 

There will be a protest: You unfairly foist on the alternative view an attribution of meaning to the misspeaker’s utterance that is his meaning. But it is not his meaning, it is what the words he utters mean. 

Bilgrami is wrong. Our protest is that Bilgrami ascribes God like omniscience to mere mortals who pretend to no such thing. 

This move does not help matters at all. The protest, if it is correct, only reveals the true nature of the alternative view. The view amounts to a prising apart of what one’s words mean, what truth conditions they have, from the meaning or truth conditions one intends them to have. 

This is useful. We go to skool or collidge so teechur can 'prise apart' wot we intended to say from the illiterate garbage we submitted for our homework assignment. Later, when arrested by the police, our brief prises apart our assertion that we kicked our mate's head in for a larf, innit?, so that what we actually say is 'I woz at home with me girlfriend watching TV. when the alleged incident occurred. I got an Alibi- I was watching Yasmin Alibhai on GB TV- innit? '

Such a prising apart has disastrous consequences of a kind that I have already discussed.

Not for me, it doesn't. My teachers at Skool convinced me that I was a fucking cretin and should go in for the Commerce stream like the other thickos, not try to be a fancy-pants intellectual. 

 The reason to see the phenomenon of misspeaking as I am suggesting we should, where the intention to mean something and the meaning of the words one utters are inextricably linked, is quite simply that if they were not so linked, Frege style puzzles would get no solution that arrests them. 

Frege type puzzles are solved by type theory. The use of a word can be of different types. There is no 'inextricable link' between intentions and meanings though the intention may determine what type of meaning is being communicated. I say Hamandeggsmith coz I'm trying to be cute. This is annoying- because I am 58, not 5 years old- but it isn't puzzling. 

Fregean puzzles are puzzles that can only be solved if there is no gap between the meanings of the words one utters and the intentions with which we utter them and, therefore, no threat to our self-knowledge of their meaning. 

But this is not how language acquisition- including that of domain specific idiolects- actually works. We have watched innumerable TV shows where the young lawyer stand up saying 'Objection!'. But the lawyer does not what she is objecting to. The old alcoholic sitting behind her whispers the relevant rule of evidence. Suddenly she realizes that her Ivy League education hasn't prepared her for the cut and thrust of real life court-rooms. 

By creating a gap between the truth conditions or meaning of the words a speaker utters and what the speaker means (by way of the truth conditions he intends for his words), the alternative understanding of misspeaking threatens to make it possible for us to be unaware of the meanings of the words we utter (even as it allows us to be aware of the meanings we intend to utter). 

This is perfectly possible. A venerable priest might say 'I only learnt the true meaning of the Nicene creed when attending an old illiterate man's death bed'. Our respect for him increases. 

What truth conditions or meanings our words have may now turn on factors that one may be entirely unaware of; and we have already seen that if we allow for speakers to lack selfknowledge of the meaning of what they say, we will have no satisfactory solution to the Fregean puzzles about identity, at any rate no decisive solution which arrests those puzzles and prevents them from arising one step up.

Either embrace pragmatism or else treat identity as a Tarskian primitive. It is no solution to say ordinary mortals are actually equal to the omniscient Deity simply so as to dash off something which looks like a philosophy paper. 

 The important point is that the puzzles arise in a particular conceptual place – at the site of the meanings of the words someone utters (“Londres est jolie”/London is not pretty, “Hesperus is bright”/Phosphorus is not bright) and they need a solution at that site.

Which pragmatism provides. 

 Thus it is no good to say that a speaker must know what he intends his words to mean, but he needn’t know what his words in fact mean. 

This is a useful hypothesis though, no doubt, the guy could say 'hey, I was just shooting the breeze. I didn't mean anything by it.' Still, it is a fact that most of us use a lot of words without knowing their meaning. Sometimes, this becomes the accepted meaning. 

He needs to know what his words in fact mean, if the puzzle is to get a satisfactory solution because the puzzle is located in the meanings of words.

I have a jigsaw puzzle. Will it get a satisfactory solution if I assume that each piece knows where it ought to go and will do so if left to get on with the job while I drink what remains of the eggnog? 

 And they won’t get this solution if what his words mean are prised apart from what he intends them to mean, because that prising apart is what is responsible for the non-transparency of the meaning or senses of his words that thwarts decisive solutions to the puzzle. 

Similarly, the jigsaw puzzle won't solve itself if we prise apart the desire of the pieces to join together from their existence as inanimate objects which don't have desires and can't act on them. 

I suppose, Bilgrami wants to bring 'enchantment' back into our world.

This, as they say, is the bottom line. It is, at bottom, the reason to find the second source we are discussing to be dry, and it is the same reason as we had for finding the first source to be fruitless.

Because neither required magical powers to become ubiquitous.

 We need not seek new reasons to deal with claims of the second source once this protest reveals the true nature of the alternative view. In fact, resisting the view that the protest assumes to be correct is so fundamental not only because such resistance will make possible a satisfying solution to these puzzles via an appeal to senses, as I have been saying,

Bilgrami finds it satisfying to believe 'sense' is magical. 

 but also because it allows us to understand why the puzzle is the sort of puzzle it is, why it goes so deep. 

The puzzle is about naive set theory. Its solution is univalent foundations or category theory of some arcane type.

These puzzles about identity, raised by Frege and Kripke, go so deep only because the words we utter are inextricably linked to our mentality in a way that the opposing view of misspeaking which prises these two things apart, denies.

But silence may be even more inextricably linked to our mentality- as may farting in a derisive manner. This doesn't mean farts are magic.

The puzzles, as I expounded them, are not just raising points about meaning and reference, they are puzzles that reach down to (because they threaten) our most elementary assumptions about the nature of the rationality of speakers of a language. And rationality is a property of a speaker’s mind. 

No. It may be a characteristic of some minds at some times- in the view of some minds at some times. 

So the links between language (or meaning) and mind have to be closer than the opposing view permits, to SO MUCH AS RAISE the puzzles about identity.

Equally, such puzzles must be ab ovo silly because positing a closer link between language and minds at a time when computers are producing texts which can easily fool you into thinking they were written by a smart person whereas cretins like Bilgrami are writing nonsense. 

 Kripke himself, despite the fact that he is no friend of Frege’s solution (via an appeal to senses) to the puzzles about identity, nevertheless sees this importance for the puzzle of the inextricability of the link between meaning and mind. Whatever one may think of his skepticism about “senses” and of his own way of addressing the puzzle, his understanding of how the puzzle arises and what it affects, is deep and instructive. It is precisely because he takes meaning and belief/intention/ (the intentional aspects of the mind, generally) to be inextricably linked, that his puzzle ends up being a “puzzle about belief ”, as his very title makes clear, and therefore about the rationality of his protagonist, Pierre. 

If we turn Kripke's notion of buck-stopping on its head such that it is a property of protocol bound juristic systems with a terminating rule (and this is the sense in which I habitually use the term) then Kripke is perfectly coherent. 

Having said that, it also must be said that there are complications in the specific way he elaborates the link between meaning and belief that are of special interest when it comes to misspeaking and they ought to be discussed and clarified because they are highly instructive. The link is elaborated by Kripke in what he calls the principle of disquotation. That principle makes the link by saying that whenever a linguistic agent sincerely utters or assents to a sentence (say, “London is not pretty”) one may remove the quotation marks and place the sentence in a that-clause specifying the content of the agent’s belief (believes that London is not pretty). This principle, along with two other things – something he calls a “principle of translation” (which essentially asserts that translation preserves truth-conditions) and Kripke’s own causal, anti-Fregean account of reference – together give rise to his version of the Fregean puzzle. (The principle of translation is only needed for Kripke’s own version of the puzzle because it has two languages, French and English.) Suppose, then, that Pierre, brought up in Paris and influenced by his Anglophile nanny, asserts sincerely “Londres est jolie”, and then moves to London, without knowing that Londres is London, and lives in some shabby locality and asserts sincerely in his newly acquired language, English, “London is not pretty”. With all this supposed, an adherence to the combination of the three things I mentioned (the two principles – of disquotation and of translation – and an anti-Fregean, Kripkean causal account of reference), give rise to the puzzle. We have an agent, who is merely uninformed of the identity of London and Londres, believing two inconsistent things – believing that London is pretty and believing that London is not pretty. In that combination of three things, Fregeans would readily adhere to the two principles but will reject the causal doctrine about reference, introducing instead the notion of senses (disallowed by that doctrine) to block this unacceptable implication of Pierre’s irrationality. Kripke finds this an unsatisfactory solution to the puzzle, partly because of his prejudices about the notion of sense, some of which quite possibly flow from a failure to understand that senses are in a very deep way not at all like planets and cities – one cannot have multiple perspectives on them, and so they have to be the sorts of thing that are self-known to speakers, and therefore they cannot be the subject and occasion of further puzzles one step up.

Socrates uses the term synoida to mean something self-known which may be communicated and as such the term features in Biblical studies. It is related to the notion of conscience or synderesis. It is certainly useful to characterize some 'senses' as having this property but it is plainly foolish to say that this is always the case. Londres est jolie may be true for French tourists who have a restricted itinerary. London is not pretty for many Londoners forced to earn a living in what Shelley described as a City much like Hell. But we can easily imagine an O.Henry like twist to this story where the young Parisian comes to see that the true beauty of London is found in indomitable spirit of the Cockney. 

 But here I don’t want to focus on the dispute between Kripke and the Fregeans. I want to just focus on the principle of disquotation since that is Kripke’s particular elaboration of the general idea that meaning and mentality are inextricably linked, the very idea that is essential to my claims about what goes on in misspeaking. The trouble with this particular elaboration of the general idea is that, at least on the surface, it seems to actually spoil rather than elaborate the inextricability when it comes to the case of misspeaking. When someone says, “I am going towndown”, a specific understanding in terms of disquotation of the general idea of the inextricable link would seem to have it that he believes that he is going towndown. And that is not a very clear and perspicuous attribution of belief. By contrast, in my gloss on misspeaking, I have the agent believing that he is going downtown (a perfectly clear and perspicuous attribution) because I also have his utterance “I am going towndown” mean that he is going downtown. And it is possible to have it mean that because one takes the speaker to intend that his words are true if and only if he is going downtown, and one takes the meanings of his words to be fixed by that semantic intention of his and not by some other factors, often adduced by philosophers, such as social linguistic practice (or the scientific essence of substances, diseases, etc.) 3 that may in some cases not even by known to the speaker. It is these close links between his meaning and his mentality (i.e., his semantic intention and therefore also his belief) which allow me to make the clear and perspicuous attribution of belief to the speaker.

But it may be wholly false. The guy may be going uptown or he may not be going anywhere at all. 

 In fact, there is a close circle of links between two mental and one linguistic phenomena: a speaker believes that he is going downtown, he intends the words he utters (“I am going towndown”, as it happens) to be true if and only if he is going downtown, 

why put in any such link? The plain fact is that language is often used strategically. The guy says he is going downtown but what he intends may be for you to say 'don't go downtown. Stay for a bit and I'll cook a tasty biryani'.

and the words he utters are indeed true if and only (they indeed mean that) he is going downtown. So, it looks as if something goes amiss when one elaborates the close links in terms of the principle of disquotation. 

Which is useless. 

What the links should attribute in a perfectly clear attribution of a belief, as I have it, gets mangled into a bizarre attribution of the belief that he is going towndown, when the links are seen in strictly disquotational terms.

Not really. 'towndown' may be an idiolectal term. It may have some specific meaning- e.g. the guy is going down the sewers to find mole-men and to have sex with them.

 The fault line here is the strictly disquotational elaboration of the close links between meaning and mind Let me raise the issues first not with the case of misspeaking, which is some distance away from the puzzles about identity, but with a case much closer to the kind of examples discussed in the puzzle by Frege and Kripke. There is a version of the puzzle that Kripke mentions briefly, where the two names uttered in the two seemingly inconsistent sentences generated by the puzzle are not merely in the same language as they are in Frege’s original version of the puzzle (unlike in the puzzle about Pierre) but are indeed, on the surface, the same name, “Paderewski”. There is in fact only one person called “Paderewski”, but the protagonist doesn’t know that and thinks that there are two different persons, one a statesmen, the other a famous conductor. Thus the apparent inconsistency seems to be starker, with the protagonist saying, not merely, “Hesperus is bright” and “Phosphorus is not bright”, but, let’s say, “Paderewski is musically accomplished” and “Paderewski is not musically accomplished”. Here, elaborating the close link between meaning and mentality in terms of a strict version of the principle of disquotation will land us in a midden. 

But that's where you started from! The fact is we might give the term 'music' a Platonic meaning and thus the sense of our remark is that Paderewski the statesman did not create social harmony. He was a bad 'conductor' of the parliamentary orchestra. Moreover, our words may acquire an oracular significance with hindsight. Indeed, the vow, in its origins, was divorced from sacred or secular connotations. It represented an atavistic desire for one's words to come true. 

If, as I have been insisting, it is one’s semantic intentions that impart meaning’s on one’s words

which can't be the case because saying 'I'm going to kill the President' means the Secret Service are going to arrest you even if your semantic intention was to order a pepperoni pizza. 

 and one’s semantic intentions are to be thought of as having close links with one’s beliefs as mentioned in the previous paragraph, 

which can't be the case because you may have good reason to believe nobody gives a fuck about your semantic intentions. Don't go around saying 'I'm gonna kill Biden' even if you believe this will cause a pepperoni pizza to be delivered to your door. 

and the belief itself is identified via a disquotational strategy that links it with the utterance, one will have to say that the speaker semantically intends his first utterance to be true if and only if Paderewski is musically accomplished and the second utterance to be true if and only if Paderewski is not musically accomplished.

Which is foolish. I may talk about Paderewski just to make out that I am cultured and know about Music. 

 If that happens, senses or meanings, even if they are imparted by our semantic intentions, do not seem to have solved the puzzle at all. What is obviously needed here to make disquotation line up with the spirit and the underlying point of the close links it elaborates between meaning and mind, is to allow that disquotation comes into play after we make clear what the carriers of the semantics really are.

For Bilgrami, they are magical. He is bringing enchantment back into the world so he can prance around as a unicorn.

 In this example, the term “Paderewski” in each sentence contains an unpronounced (and unwritten) subscript. The sounds and inscriptions as they originally stand are incomplete and they don’t properly reveal the words that comprise the full and proper semantic items. The semantics (the senses) are carried by neologisms that we will therefore have to introduce, “Paderewski1” and “Paderewski2”. The sounds and inscriptions misleadingly leave the subscripts out.

But there was only one Paderewski. Some people said he had musical ability. Others may have said otherwise. It is certainly the case that my sense that the guy was shit at music coz he neglected to supply a disco beat is different from that of a connoisseur of Western classical music. Bilgrami, foolishly, thinks 'sense' must be the same for everybody coz it's magical. 

 Once we neologize, disquotation can proceed apace.

No it can't. Only nonsense proceeds from this stupidity. Why not distinguish Bilgrami 1 who has his head stuck up his ass and Bilgrami 2 who writes this shite while his head is stuck up his ass? 

Now, the semantic intentions with which the speaker utters the two sentences can be formulated in a way that allows the meanings or senses to remove the puzzle. 

How? By saying the guy who is shit at music is not the guy who is good at music. That is silly. The fact is, a pair of musicologists might both learn something and thus modify their views from a debate of this sort. 

Of course, this solution to the puzzle is not Kripke’s solution, as I have already said. It is Fregean.

No. It is nonsense. Frege had a 'third realm' for abstract objects which was separate from external reality or internal consciousness. But those abstract objects didn't get multiplied endlessly so as to resolve some 'puzzle'. Frege wasn't an utter moron. 

 It appeals to senses, given in two different semantic intentions, which intend for each of the two (only seemingly inconsistent) sentences, two different truth conditions. Someone may wish to enter a quarrel here, claiming that this is to abandon the disquotation principle, not rescue it from a strictly rigid reading. But this dispute is paltering and terminological. Whether we say the theoretical move here is “disquotational” or not, hardly matters. 

Like anything this cretin writes matters at all!

What matters is to register that the move fastens on an insight in Kripke that the puzzle about identity is a puzzle that reaches all the way down to issues of belief, mind, and rationality, and builds from that insight a notion of sense based on an individual speaker’s semantic intentions to characterize the meanings of the words in his speech.

Lawyers do this all the time in a useful manner. But philosophers do this in a stupid and useless manner. Their true 'semantic intention' is to say 'I'm smart. That other guy is as stupid as shit.' But what they write is moronic. 

 Kripke insight that the puzzle goes that deep is just the insight that meaning and mind have inextricably close links, but he then does not see in those close links the possibility of developing this individualist Fregean notion of sense that would decisively resolve the puzzle.

By endlessly multiplying Meinongian objects! This is like Eric Cartman who finally gets his balls sucked in Imagination land by imaging a duplicate of Kyle who enjoys that type of activity. Arguably, Kyle's 'semantic intention' in saying he would do so iff leprechauns were real is fulfilled though leprechauns are only real in Imagination Land. But, like Frege's third realm, Imagination land does not really exist. 

And I am claiming that this combination of insight and failure on his part is revealingly present in his own principle of disquotation.

Because Kripke got stuck in a useless profession. Sad. 

 The principle itself is an acknowledgement of the close links and is of a piece with (in fact it makes for) the insight that the puzzle reaches all the way down to issues of rationality. 

What reaches issues of rationality is stuff which leads to more rational behavior- not writing worthless shite. 

The failure to give the principle the less strict and more relaxed reading is of a piece with the failure to build on the insight about those links and provide a plausible version of the Fregean solution. 

South Park gave that solution in its three Imagination Land episodes. That was useful because it was an effective satire on the War on Terror whose achievements turned out to be wholly imaginary.

If one sees disquotation in a less strict way than it seems on the surface to be, one has all the ingredients for a convincing Fregean solution to the puzzles, one that would arrest the puzzles once and for all. And more to the point of our immediate interest, we can derive from this more relaxed reading of disquotation an attractive account of what goes in the case of misspeaking. There too, one can say that disquotation should proceed after we make clear that “towndown” is really a mispronunciation of “downtown”, just as each utterance of “Paderewski” in the two sentences of that version of the puzzle is a mispronunciation of “Paderewski1” and “Paderewski2” respectively. Once this is done, we are landed with no unclear and unintelligible attributions of belief to the person who says “I am going towndown”;

though the guy is clearly going down the sewers to have sex with mole-men.

 and we preserve the close links between meaning and mind which alone allow us to solve the Frege style puzzles decisively, 

though, in our age, machines are producing meaningful texts and even solving mathematical problems. A computer recently showed the flaw in Godel's proof of God. 

in a way that the alternative view of misspeaking I have been resisting, cannot. 

But it is cool to just endlessly create new Meinongian objects. Bilgrami3 is a unicorn with this horn up his ass. Bilgrami4 is a unicorn who is really pissed off coz he has this great big horn up his rectum.

Finally, there is hereabouts another clarification worth making quickly. One should not be under the impression that my way of accounting for misspeaking diminishes the distinction between speakers meaning and sentence meaning. It might seem natural to think that it does. After all, have I not insisted that the meaning of the misspoken sentence is exactly what meaning or truth condition the speaker intends it to have?

But nobody buys that which is why they don't shout 'I'm gonna blow up this plane' with the semantic intention of receiving a complimentary glass of champagne. 

And isn’t that all it takes to diminish the distinction?

Not if you get shot by the Air Marshall and end up being reamed in a prison cell.

 It is actually instructive to understand why it does not in any way diminish the general distinction between sentence meaning and speakers meaning

Says Bilgrami6 who is a pissed off unicorn whose horn is lodged firmly up his rectum.

The interesting and important point to emphasize is that misspeaking is a phenomenon quite different from metaphors and indirect speech acts, where that distinction conspicuously presides.

What an amazing discovery! What will Bilgrami come up with next? The discovery that a fart is not a poem? Hiccups are not generally considered to be symphonies? 

 In the latter phenomena, speaker’s meaning, as I pointed out earlier, comes visibly apart from the sentence meaning. 

It may do so- for some specific purpose. But, the speaker's meaning is often opaque even to herself for evolutionary reasons.

In fact speakers exploit something in the sentence meaning in order to convey something else to hearers. 

But silence or a derisive fart may accomplish the same purpose to a superior degree.

They convey that “something else” by deploying the sentence meaning of the utterances they make.

What information does this sentence add to its predecessor? Nothing at all. The fact is the 'sentence meaning' is something received. 'Deployment' must focus on reception conditions. You must speak loudly if the other chap is a bit deaf. 

 But in the case of misspeaking, there is only a false impression of speaker’s meaning and sentence meaning being visibly apart in the same sense. The idea that the speaker says what she in fact merely happens to say (“I am going towndown”) in order to deliberately convey something quite else – that she is going downtown is completely inappropriate in the analysis of misspeaking. 

It may be, it may not. She may be going down the sewers to have sex with mole-men.

The description “quite else” is entirely out of place as a description of what the speaker is deliberately up to, while it is perfectly correct in describing what the speaker is deliberately up to in metaphors and indirect speech acts.

It may be. It may not. Dead metaphors and 'phatic' speech acts may capture something 'quite else' as in the plays of Beckett or Pinter. 

 The fact that misspeaking turns on a visible difference between what is uttered and what one is intending to get someone to believe (respectively, “I am going towndown” and “I am going downtown”) should not confuse anyone into thinking that the case is similar to the cases of metaphor and indirect speech acts, 

why not? Such may indeed be the case. 'Downtown' may be a euphemism for some particularly degrading sexual activity- or so I like to believe. 

which also turn on a visible difference between what is uttered and what one is intending to get someone to believe (respectively “Man is a wolf” and “Human beings are competitive”

though homo homini lupus does not mean humans are competitive. It means they devour strangers. 

 or “The train is about to leave” and “Walk faster to the train”.) 

There is no such difference. The first statement is more polite.

In the case of misspeaking (the utterance by a speaker of “I am going towndown), the speaker has the following two intentions: to say something that is true if and only if the speaker is going downtown and to get across to the hearer the belief that he is going downtown. There is thus coincidence – rather than departure – of what the speaker intends to get across from what he intends his words to mean whereas in the case of metaphors and indirect speech acts, there is departure rather than coincidence.

This may or may not be the case. We don't know. The thing is ideographic not nomothetic. Communication can be more efficient if expectations are belied. We might 'misspeak' or use a bizarre metaphor so as to add imperative force to our utterance or to leave a stronger impression. However, the proper way to analyze this is with reference to coordination and discoordination games. Normativity arises out of Conventions which themselves have Schelling focality.

 (I repeat, of course, that to insist on this coincidence is not to say that the distinction between speaker’s meaning and sentence meaning is collapsed in the case of misspeaking. It is no more collapsed in the case of misspeaking than it is when one says “Human beings are competitive” in order to get someone to believe that human beings are competitive or says “The train is about to leave” in order to get someone to believe that the train is about to leave.) My claim has been that if we see cases of misspeaking – such as slips of the tongue as having a literal, sentence, meaning that is different from what it sounds like – a meaning that is imparted by the semantic intentions of the misspeaker – then we can block misspeaking from becoming a second source for thinking that speakers do not have their own meanings or truth conditions right.

But it would be foolish to block this. Freudian slips do occur and afford us insight. If people always know their own 'meanings' then their preferences must correspond to their meta-preferences. But, in that case, language would be otiose in any commercial context- including the Ponzi scheme that is academic instruction in Psilosophy.

 And so, just as with the first source discussed earlier, without the possibility of being wrong about our own meanings, we lose our grip on the very idea of a notion of norm that holds of meaning since no one would want to say that talk of normativity is apt when there is no possibility of being wrong or mistaken. 

Why not? It is sufficient for something to be more useful than some other thing- without that thing being wrong- for normativity to have purchase.

Let’s return to the Wittgensteinian notion of the normativity that resides in acting in accord or out of accord with our intentions, the subject that we began with. 

But that normativity comes a cropper with the 'private language argument'. We need an external auditor to keep us on the straight and narrow.

This paper’s brief has been that we cannot fail to act in accord with the intention relevant to meaning.

So Bilgrami intended to write worthless shite.

 I argued (in the previous section) that that intention is not the intention to apply particular words to particular things rather than others, but the intention to say particular words with particular truth conditions and satisfaction conditions.

which would involve applying particular words to particular things rather than others- e.g. saying 'I'm going to kill the President' when the thing you want is a pepperoni pizza. 

 The subsequent discussion (in the present section) of the phenomenon of misspeaking helps me to stress a point that I have tried to be careful about in my various formulations of this intention relevant to meaning. The intention relevant to meaning is best formulated by saying that a speaker intends with an (assertoric) utterance to say something which has particular truth conditions.

No. The intention was to say something. There may also have been an intention to get the other guy to understand something but saying that thing might not be the most effective method of achieving this object. This is an ideographic, not a nomothetic, matter. 

 The word “something” in this formulation has the right generality. Sometimes speakers do not produce the exact sounds they intend to produce, as when they misspeak.

This also happens when I try to fart in a derisive manner but end up shitting myself.

 Thus when the intention is described with the right generality, such cases will not spoil the efficacy of that intention.

The reverse is the case. Intentions should be described with granular specificity. I want a pepperoni pizza with a thin crust and crushed garlic. This intention of mine should not be described in general terms as wishing for all sentient beings to be well nourished.

 Our protagonist who utters, “I am going towndown” does indeed intend to say something that is true if and only if he is going downtown. 

This is not generally the case. The intention is better described as 'ceteris paribus, I'm going downtown'. If you offer something better the guy won't go downtown and have sex in the sewers with mole-men.

That intention, formulated with that generality, is perfectly well fulfilled when he misspeaks, even if another intention formulated without that generality (to utter “I am going downtown” in particular) is not. 

It may be, it may not. My reception of 'towndown' is 'going down the sewers to have sex with mole-men'. On the other hand, 'going downtown' means cunnilingus. Semantic intentions have to take account of idiosyncrasies of reception, not 'truth conditions'. Indeed, that is why sensible people give me a wide berth. They know I'll go around blabbing to all and sundry that they told me they were going down the sewers to have sex with mole-men when all they had said was 'sorry I can't stop and talk. I have to get downtown for an important meeting.' 

And it is the former intention that is his semantic intention which targets the sentence meaning of his utterance. What I will concede is that when the intention relevant to meaning gets such a general description as I am proposing (“I intend to say something which is true if and only if”), we may sometimes find that what a linguistic agent intends as the truth conditions for his utterance may be rather idiosyncratic.

In which case 'sense' is not univocal. It is different for different people. 

 A slip of the tongue is proof of that as is the medically ignorant utterance “I have arthritis in my thigh”. If the formulation of the intention relevant to meaning is that I intend to say something which is true if and only if then, I can say “I have arthritis in my thigh” with the intention of saying something that is true if and only if I have a disease either of the joints or the ligaments in my thigh; or I can say “I am going towndown” with the intention of saying something that is true if and only I am going downtown. The formulation leaves things general enough to allow this sort of leeway for idiosyncratic (individualistic) semantic intentions.

But this leeway is enough for 'truth conditions' to be 'anything goes'. The same problem arises for general equilibrium with agent heterogeneity. 

 Is there any shortcoming to allowing this sort of idiosyncrasy into literal, sentence, meaning, and not restricting such idiosyncrasy to non-lietral phenomena like metaphors and other figures of speech? The answer to this is, “yes”. Idiosyncratic semantic intentions for one’s words put our hearers to some strain in interpreting the words correctly. Unlike metaphors which, at least in poetry and other creative writing, are intended to strain and surprise the reader (in a pleasurable way), the routine utterances that may be the product of misspeaking, presumably are not so intended. 

They may become so if they are rewarded. I probably started saying 'Hamandeggsmith' when I was actually young and cute. This is no longer the case, but the habit has stuck. 

What this means is that even if a speaker cannot fail to act in accord with his semantic intentions, as I am insisting, there may be another intention that a speaker has that he does fail to act in accord with, which is the intention to say something that will be easily understood by others, understood without strain or without surprise. 

Why stop there? There may be a third intention which is to magically turn into a unicorn with its its horn up its bum.

One assumes that speakers have such an intention in their ordinary speech most of the time,

unless one spends a lot of time in pubs

 and misspoken utterances or utterances made in medical (or other forms of) ignorance would be actions that fail to be in accord with such an intention. So I am not denying that various intentions, such as the one to be easily understood, are not always fulfilled in the theoretical treatment of meaning I am proposing. But these are not the failures of fulfillment that reflect any intrinsic normativity of meaning.

Yes they are. Normally, people say 'downtown'. If you say 'towndown', people may think you are sub-normal. If, you misspeak at a job interview, you are quick to correct yourself because you wish to be perceived as observant of norms. 

 “Speak so as to avoid hearers strain in understanding what you have to say” is not an intention one may have towards one’s speech that reflects a norm that is intrinsic to language.

It is a norm intrinsic to some types of language- e.g. that used by air traffic controllers and the pilots who speak to them.

 It is a purely utilitarian norm.

But intentionality has utility. 

 It is not the assumption of normativity that philosophers have made so central to meaning.

But philosophers like Bilgrami have made themselves wholly peripheral to any meaningful type of discourse.

 That assumption of normativity is said by those philosophers to be intrinsic to meaning rather than merely utilitarian. If the assumption were true, such normativity would reside in intentions which, when properly identified, are intentions that target the sentence meaning or truth conditions of one’s words (as I argued in the last section) and which when formulated correctly have an appropriate generality (as I have just argued in this section). If this paper’s argument is convincing, intentions, so identified and so formulated, cannot fail to get fulfilled in the speech of those who possess them.

Even if Bilgrami convinced us he was a unicorn he still wouldn't be a unicorn.  Our intentions fail to get fulfilled unless we were so dispirited as to aim very low indeed. 

And if they cannot fail to get fulfilled, they cannot reflect any genuine normativity. 

Why not? Irenic theologies of various occassionalist stripes are plenty normative even if they assure all believers- however sinful- of a wonderful hereafter. 

Meaning intentions, then, are exceptions to Wittgenstein’s insight about the nature of intention. 

Because Wittlesstein had shit for brains. Everything is an exception to what he thought true. 

They are not refutations of his insight and it would be a misunderstanding of the argument of this paper to think it was presented with a view to providing a counter example to his claim about the normativity built into the very idea of intention.

So this paper is utterly pointless.

 As a generality, it is indeed true that intentions do have the normativity built into them that Wittgenstein first profoundly brought to our notice. The point rather is that intentions regarding meanings are a degenerate species of intentions and the deepest reasons for this, which I cannot explore here in what is already a very long paper, have to do with the fact that meaning something is a rather unique kind of thing in that intending a meaning and living up to that intention are – to put it flamboyantly and perhaps a little perversely – more like one thing rather than two, and so failures are not really possible.

This stupid fellow has just told us that he can't explore something here because the paper is already too long. This means he failed in his intention. He didn't live up to it. There are two things, not one thing, here. The desire to say something stupid and the inability to fully express that stupidity. 

 This remarkable fact is one that I have pursued only briefly elsewhere and intend to explore at much greater length in the future.

He will continue to write stupid shit. That's true enough, unless death supervenes.

 The present paper’s conclusion is, accordingly, relatively modest. Without fully spelling out this unique nature of meaning intentions, it has given an argument to show why they must be viewed, in a very specific sense, as degenerate. 

A stupid guy trying to shit higher than his arsehole is indeed pursuing a degenerate research program. However 'meaning intentions' in smart people working on cutting edge STEM stuff is highly productive. It doesn't matter if they end up proving something they set out to disprove or vice versa provided the thing 'pays for itself' in advancing science and technology.

It is also modest in another sense. It has not argued that meaning is not normative in any interesting sense, though I believe that to be true and have argued it elsewhere. 

With equal imbecility.

The conclusion is merely skeptical about the normativity of meaning owing to the normativity of intentions. It argues only that meaning is not normative because, despite its intimate link with intention, it does not inherit the normativity that intentions possess; and the argument is that the normativity that intentions possess lapse when intentions target meanings. 

Intersubjective meaning is 'dialectical' or features 'adjointness'. Semantic intentions- like those of any other kind- adapt to those of others in a creative manner. It is quite true that poo-babies don't inherit our human characteristics but if we have sex with a person of a different gender we might babies who do inherit some of our characteristics. Bilgrami's onanistic account of semantic intentions is doomed to sterility. But then it is wholly divorced from what produces or constitutes meaning.

Should it be a cause for concern that normativity of this kind goes missing when it comes to meaning? 

This is like looking at the turd you left in the toilet bowl and wondering whether it will grow up to be a philosopher. If so pull the flush immediately.

In the passage of this essay’s argument, we have seen the extent to which there would have to be a loss of self-knowledge of meaning in order for meaning to be normative

only if we believe Bilgrami's absurd assertion that 'sense' is something univocal and such as is accessible only to an omniscient being. But this is like saying no norms can apply to God. This was the central issue in the 'imkan e kizb' argument which Bilgrami's ancestors would have known of. Can God tell lies? To say no seems to diminish him but surely the alternative is worse. Obviously, an omniscient creator doesn't need 'deontics' (rules, duties etc) and moreover won't have human type intentionality because for the Deity 'affects are effects'. But there is little point worrying about this. Religion is founded upon the mysterey of Faith. Not Bilgrami's enchantment and ability to turn into a unicorn with his horn firmly up his rectum.

 and I have hinted at the extent to which that loss would itself owe to a location of meaning in the social realm or in the objective realm of scientific essences. 

as opposed to up the backside of unicorns. What the fuck are 'scientific essences'? I know of nothing in science which must exist in all possible worlds. 

I described these as the mundane versions of Plato’s more metaphysically abstract locations.

Or Frege's third realm. What Bilgrami has done is give something in the second realm (of inner consciousness) direct access to omniscience so that it attains univocity. One may as well say that a particular combination of farts can cause the gates of Paradise to open and everybody to turn into winged unicorns

 I reckon, then, that any concern we feel at such an absence of norms reflects a residual, secularized yearning for Platonist forms of objectivity, something that Wittgenstein would have seen as calling for therapy, not philosophical satisfaction.

Wittgenstein did need therapy. But having lots of gay sex was quite a tonic. As for philosophical satisfaction- surely getting paid to write shite provides that in plenty? When I was young, Rohit Parekh was respected but Spivak and Sen were admired because they were clearly imbeciles who had somehow fooled the Ivy League into hiring them. Bilgrami may have started out as a Parekh but is Kaushik Basu level stoooopid. Still, he is against Modi so he can be considered a doughty fighter against Fascism. 

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