[hist-analytic] Davidson's Hume
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat May 23 21:37:58 EDT 2009
In a message dated 5/23/2009 12:19:48 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes:
Now the point we can derive from Donnellan's distinction. ... Clearly,
'the cause of b caused b' follows if it is true that a caused b and the
description 'the cause of b' obtains. But the problem, if it is a problem, is
that this is true only of the attributive employment of the description. If we
take the description 'the predecessor of b' as referential, then it is a
contingent fact that 'the predecessor of b preceded b'. The same holds in
the causal case, especially since we are speaking about singular causation.
... It is necessarily true that whatever preceded b was a predecessor of b,
but that *this* event or fact, etc. preceded b is not a necessary truth.
Can we make this explicit using Donnellan's distinction. I am inclined to
think so, but we may need to appeal to some other notion.
I read B. Aune's objection with interest.
I still think S. Bayne's 'toying' (he'll like that) with Donnellan can
It always struck me as 'contemporary' of Grice that when he submitted the
"Vacuous Names" piece for "Words and Objections" (1969) he manages to quote
from Donnellan, with a caveat about pragmatics: are these 'uses' ... or
what? In any case, he develops a formal notation to take care of the two
readings: identificatory -- THE CAUSE -- and non-identificatory, 'the cause'.
His example is actually Marmaduke Blogg's haberdasher, as I recall.
One problem here may be the 'the' in 'the' cause. I do have a problem with
the definite description per se:
>make an error here. The relevant necessary conditional needs a
>stronger antecedent, "If there is one and only one cause of b." This
>antecedent allows us to infer that the cause of b caused b.
For "C" being "... cause ..."
and "CAUSANS"x being a is antecedent
"CAUSATUM"x being x is effect
and how it connects with:
(Ex)Ax & (z)Az --> z = x
'the one and only one cause'.
I like that.
But I think people are sometimes sloppy in their speech:
"The cause of his madness is The Three Stooges"
I would say the three stooges caused the boy's madness, Tommy's madness.
I would say that the cause is UNIQUE: the three stooges. Not _each_ of them
(Curly, Moe, Larry).
But yet I'd use something like a numerical quantifier
"(Ex3)", rather than the 'iota' operator to represent "the" in "the three
stooges". The iota operator seems to be necessitated when the denotatum of
the definite description is just singular.
I suppose what B. Aune is having in mind is multiple causation, and also
like Mill's 'generalisations', plus the idea that it should be a
The Falklands War caused Argentina's return to Democracy
Alfonsin who re-organised the structure of the political parties
the general deterioration of the military chiefs.
So, only in the case of 'one and onely one cause' seems to license
His point about the 'analyticity' of "the cause of E caused E" (where e
stands for effect) sounds more harmless, though?
I agree that something more than a Donnellian 'stroke of the pen' (as Grice
calls this) is in order.
"C caused E"
Grice's formula: "See if you can append, to "C", 'whatever that may be': if
you can, it's non-identificatory, if you can't it's otherwise"
Then Martha, the maid, whoever she may be, served us breakfast.
seems otiose in that "the maid" seems _referential_ and attributive.
It seems Davidson is into circularities like:
(to use Grice's example of 'reasons' as causes' in "Aspects of
the bridge collapsed.
hurricane and generally gusty winds
overweight bulls crossing it.
SOMETHING caused the collapse of the bridge.
The cause of the collapse of the bridge caused the collapse of the bridge.
"analytic", screams Davidson.
"The cause of the collapse of the bridge could have been avoided."
BAYNE: "How? How can you avoid a hurricane?"
SPERANZA: I was meaning the heavy bulls.
AUNE: Manufacture. It's all malpractice.
Grice got so much into this that he started to consider what the OED has as
(4) The bridge collapsed because it collapsed.
"analytic", and 'tautological'. But if "war is war" and "women are women"
_are_ informative at the level of the implicature, so is (4): there's little
we can do about it -- and the culprit is possibly on his way to Rio anyway.
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