Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I’m trying to say something about forms of agreement and, in particular, the relationship between a person’s thoughts, words, and deeds. These forms of agreement are to be found within a given individual. Let us call them forms of ‘intra-personal’ agreement.

1: Agreement between what a person thinks and what he says.
2: Agreement between what a person thinks and what he does.
3: Agreement between what a person says and what he does.

These are formulated in synchronic terms but there are also diachronic forms of intra-personal agreement, all of which might be captured by the term ‘Consistency’; we can evaluate a person’s beliefs, statements, and actions over time and notice whether there is any agreement between what is thought, said, or done first at one time and then at another.

There are also ‘inter-personal’ agreements between two or more individuals:

4: Agreement between person A and person B that some given proposition is the case.
5: Agreement between person A and person B that some given action is to be done.

Let us call these forms of ‘inter-personal agreement. These last two forms of agreement can be between two or more individuals.

I want to label each of 1–5 in a way that will help to distinguish them but I’m not finding it easy. So far I have:

1. Sincerity
2. Integrity
4. Consensus

But 3 and 5 are a bit harder. So far I have:

3. Trustworthiness (But I’m not at all happy about that.)
5. Accord (Again, I’m not sure that’s anything other than just a synonym for ‘agreement’; I want something that is more obviously tied to it being an agreement to act.)

Any thoughts?


RJR said...

The antonym of 3 would be hypocrisy. Is it relevant to what you're doing to consider how far it's a conscious decision? E.g. if I say Homosexuality is an abomination! but am secretly hanging out in gay brothels in New Orleans, is that a different sort of lack of number 3 than if I say Unfaithfulness to your partner is wrong! but then get drunk and shag someone else accidentally? The latter seems a tad different to me, in that it's still bad but essentially it's the human condition, whereas the former is a serious deliberate disregard for honesty. Are you only concerned about how it appears to an outside viewer, in terms of evaluating behaviour over time?
Number 5: how about "resolution"? Does that have unfortunate UN overtones? Would "resolve" do?

James Warren said...

Thanks. I agree that the antonym of 3 is hypocrisy but I'm not really sure what the antonym of hypocrisy is. Someone else has suggested 'contract' for 5 and I think that is possible too. But 'resolution' is nice.

nwjvfeoi said...

More appropriate than Trustworthiness for No.3 might be the idea of Reliability, in that it could be seen to focus more on the final outcome of a given intention + action: that is, a Trustworthy person may act with 'good' intentions but through their own clumsiness/stupidity/inability/etc act in a 'bad' way, whereas we could expect someone who is Reliable to have the means (as well as the intent) to do as they say they will do.

lyryus said...

I had instinctively thought Reliability too, though I had no specific argument in mind for it. But as nwjvfeoi i find that reliability seems to have a connection with 'guaranteed practical outcome' which Trustworthiness has not. If someone is trustworthy, I tell them a secret. If someone is (also?) Reliable, I ask them to post those important files for me ABSOLUTELY before 9 pm, or something like that. The line is very fine, but reliability seems to be trustworthiness plus something else, it seems to include some practical/actual/factual aspect that is not necessarily required by the more specifically 'emotional' connotation of trustworthiness. all in all, I am not sure I have an argument for it, but Reliability seems definitely more right for what you want to say.