Sunday, October 29, 2006

I am expecting to expect an expectation.

In Seeking a Centaur, Adoring Adonis: Intensional Transitives and Empty Names Richard’s preliminary set up for success structures is this:

ss’s are an abstract representation of (the domain of) the sorts of situations in which the goals of my hunt are satisfied.

A hunt’s goals determine the collection of pairs <w,s>.

w is a possible world.
s is representing the sets of things found, and is a subset of w’s domain.
g is the goal of the hunt.

So, s is in the extension of g at w.

In addition:
“There are analogs, to success structures for hunts, among many of the events and states picked out by intensional transitives. A few examples:
Suppose I am in a state of expectation. That state will be realized my having an attitude to one or more mental sentences of roughly the form NP will so and so. For example, I expect ‘two hurricanes will occur next week, and no tornadoes will occur’. The NP subjects—‘two hurricanes’, ‘no tornadoes’—are let us say, the themes of my state of expectation. A structure , such that, for each theme t of my expectation, s is in the extension of t at w, provides an abstract representation of (the domain of) a situation in which my expectations are fulfilled. If, for example, is a success structure for my weather expectation, s will contain two hurricanes (from w) and no tornadoes.” (110)

Now given this set up and example there are two basic questions I have in regards to the functionality of the structure.

If my g is expecting, then is my ss obtained only when ‘I expect so and so’? It seems to be according to this structure. But this strikes me as a bit odd. Not wrong, but odd. When I make the statement ‘I expect two hurricanes will occur next week, and no tornadoes will occur’, the expectation doesn’t seem to be what I wish to express as the goal of the statement. When ‘I expect so and so…’ the idea behind the expectation is that the NP subjects (or the t) will or will not be fullfilled. Expectation statements are stasis like, they hold the NP in place until the NP are or are not determined. The expectation is not the ‘thing’ that my statement wishes to have as its goal, it is the ‘so and so occur (or don’t occur)’ that should be thought of as the goal.

What happens when one of the t (themes) of my NPs change? According to the above if a t changes (say you changed from a statement which replaces a hurricane to a tsunami) and s is in the extension of t. Then the s must change as well (at least most of the time). But, it is the goal that is supposed to determine the collection of pairs <w,s>. So, what happens when the s changes and there is no longer an agreement between the g and the pair that it is supposed to determine? Say for example in the case of changing a hurricane to a tsunami where the expectation of a tsunami is guaranteed. So it is no longer appropriate to ‘expect a tsunami to occur’ rather ‘a tsunami will occur’. It seems then that the pair <w,s> force the g to be determined, not the other way around. Or does changing any of the pieces of the structure mean that a new ss needs to be constructed?

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