Sunday, 14 June 2015

Misconstruing Reason And Result As Purpose

Martin (1992: 197):
Degrees of probability are also possible with purposives, but there are only two values, high/median and low:
[4:74]  We'll enter
            in case we win. 
[4:75]  We'll enter
            so that we'll win.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses the logico-semantic relation of cause with interpersonal modality values.

[2] This confuses the logical meaning of purpose, because intention Q so action P with desire.

[3] Although this is intended to demonstrate a difference in 'purposives', the logico-semantic relation of cause: purpose is not a feature of either clause nexus.

The logico-semantic relation in the first 'purposive' clause nexus is cause: reason.  The logical meaning is Q because P.  Winning is construed as the reason for entering, not the purpose of entering: we'll enter because we might win. (Hence the interpretation as low probability).

The logico-semantic relation in the second 'purposive' clause nexus is cause: result.  The logical meaning is because P so result Q.  Winning is construed as the result of entering, not the purpose of entering: we'll enter with the result that we'll win.  (Hence the interpretation as high/median probability).

[See Halliday and Matthiessen (1999: 245) for why tying the relator to the effect in cause: result sequences typically implies intentionality.]

The upshot is that the two 'purposive' clause nexuses differ in terms of type of cause — neither of which is purpose.

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