|Title||On understandings of intention: A response to Wedgwood|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Understanding, Intention|
1 On understandings of intention: A response to Wedgwood Michael Haugh Griffith University Abstract: In a recent paper, Wedgwood (2011) launches a simultaneous defence of intention recognition and a critique of the alleged neglect of cognition in interactional approaches to communictive interaction. In this paper, I argue that this simultaneous critique and defence is deeply flawed on a number of counts. First, the “looser” notion of intention which Wedgwood proposes glosses over and even confounds various levels or types of intention, and for this reason is ultimately unfalsifiable. Second, in the course of his argumentation he confounds intention with intentionality and agency. Third, his claim that a focus on “local” intentions offers a more “fine-grained” and “explanatory analysis” is completely unwarranted in light of close examination of the data at hand. I argue that such an approach instead generates speculation which is analytically unproductive, and, does not account for the cognitively interdependent inferences that underlie conversational interaction in addition
to traditional monadic inferential processes. It is concluded that further discussions about the requirements that interaction places on cognition, including the question of the place of intention and intentionality can be productive, but only if researchers are cognisant of the different ways in which intention has been defined, and also the different analytical work to which intention is put by scholars in pragmatics.
“The big question is not whether actors understand each other or not. The fact is that they do understand each other, that they will understand each other, but the catch is that they will understand each other regardless of how they would be understood” (Garfinkel 1952: 367; cited in Heritage 1984: 119