File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0011, message 82

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 13:15:23 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: Re: Habermas vs Searle

Bill, thanks for pressing your issues. A closer examination of JH's
essay here is in order, which could be very involved. I welcome this,
but don't have JH's essay near to hand

BH: the essay on Searle, Habermas distinguishes two views of
speech acts,
> calling Searle's 'intentionalist' and his own 'intersubjectivist.' 

This addresses the sense in which I called Searle's view egoist,
since his view of subjective consciousness is the basis for his view
of mind and intention, which is the basis for his view of intentions
in speech acts. Habermas' view are basically intersubjectivist, in
terms of the interactive scene of communication and, ultimately, in
terms of a sense of individuation which is fundamentally

> BH: intentionality involved in Searle's account is this: when I
> successfully, I must succeed in getting the promisee to recognize
> my
> intent to make a promise. 

But this applies as well to deception. Genuinely intending is one
thing (a matter of subjective validity). Getting the other to
recognize one's normative act (presuming genuineness) is something
else. Your English / German example dramatizes this....

BH: If, for example, I promise in English
> when
> the promisee only understands German, I have not made a felicitous
> promise, even if I fully intend and am able to do what I meant to
> promise--even if I later do it, I have not 'kept my promise.'  

An infelicitous promise may well be effective, as you actually turn
up at the restaurant as promised, but your companion failed to
recognize that you were going to do that. You kept your promise, but
you weren't recognized as having done so. Infelicitous, to be sure
(relative to perlocutionary effect), but a promise nonetheless
(illocutionary upshot). That one can promise infelicitously, yet
genuinely, connects to my earlier point that the promise is *used* in
an interaction, an interaction which is irreducible to its promissory
(or subjective) component. You might have gotten your companion to
the restaurant by other means (some incentive other than the other's
interest your promissory reliability). Promising to meet someone who
wishes to meet you is one way to meet someone at the restaurant
reliably. Intentionalist speech action always already implies
intersubjective communicative interaction, but Searle may fail to
appreciate the intersubjectivity of this. 

> BH: if I
> say the words, and she understands them, etc., but I didn't mean to
> follow through, I have successfully used the promising institution
> to
> deceive her, but I have not made a felicitous promise.

On the contrary: You've acted felicitously, but not validly, since
you're deceiving her. You've used promissory action with desired
perlocutionary effect, but you have not promised her anything. 

> Second, you claim that Habermas's position is more clearly stated. 

I'll consider this when I have the essay near to hand.

> BH: Third, ...Searle has shown considerable interest in
> accounting for individual actions in terms of social facts (such as
> language, institutions, collective intentions, etc.).

So much the worse for Searle's view. I recall my earlier posting. 

> BH: Finally, I think difficulties can be mysterious in several real
> (literal) senses--we can be initiated into the secrets of the
> mystery;
> but also in the sense of being unexplained.  I do think that
> clarifications should, by their nature, dispel mystery in this
> sense--they should do away with the unexplained.

I agree.

Best regards,


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