Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Purpose is an ascription not an innate aspect of action

I think I agree with Erik Scothron if I understand him. Purpose seems to me to be an interpretation that is ascribed to someone by subjecting them to a "point of view" ... i.e. YOUR point of view. Or when a community does it, OUR point of view. The members of a language community use language to interpret a person and hence ascribe that person with particular intentions or purposes. We can, naturally enough, also do that to ourselves by borrowing (using, or more likely being used by) the language that the community we are a part of speaks.

The proposal that purpose is an innate part of action seems to me to be not a candidate for truth or falsity. You can of course go ahead and say things like that, but what could ever count as evidence for or against? (Rhetorical.)

The other day it came up with this: The reason that anybody does anything is that they are trying to make the world a better place for everybody. Some people don't know that this is the reason yet. This is also not a candidate for truth or falsity either, but it occurred to me that it could be a useful way to interpret people.

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