[hist-analytic] Davidson's Hume

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun May 24 13:23:08 EDT 2009


In a message dated 5/23/2009 8:43:11 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com quotes from S. Bayne:

>>But does the fact that this means that it is logically  necessary that the
>>cause of b caused b is not so obvious. Let's take  a look.

and comments:

>The bit you quote from Davidson, after the correction  offered
>by Aune seems OK,
>It's not clear from your message what  Davidson concluded from this,
>e.g. did he make the inference you question  above?
 
I wonder, too.
 
I find that in the relevant page in "Reasons, Causes...", he uses 
 
      'the cause of b caused b'
 
as _analytic_, which I'd take as 'logically necessary'.
But Davidson is _gerrymandering_ Hume and not wanting to leave matters at  
_that_ level. Some sense of 'metaphysical' or 'ontological' necessity seems 
to  be in the proceedings. Hence S. Bayne's use of the referential vs. 
attributive  reading of 
 
    "the cause of b -- REFERENTIALLY: this singular cause  --
     caused b"
 
vs.
 
    "the cause of b -- WHATEVER that may be -- Attributive  Use --
    caused b"
 
---
 
Grice laughed, in a good way, at distinctions here. He (as R. Warner notes  
-- in editing Grice's 1977 Kant Lectures re-delivered as 1979 Locke 
Lectures --  now "Aspects of Reason") speaks of
 
   ichtyological necessity
 
i.e. necessity of _fish_! (of all creatures).
 
He is making a point that if we are going to multiply necessities we should 
 consider Ockham's _praeter necessitatem_. Odd. Schiffer wrote about this, 
but  his contribution is more methodological, or 'cosmetic' as I write: he 
writes to  the effect that Occam's Razor is very good even if you do need a 
good splashing  of "Schiffer's After-Shave" ex post facto.
 
I particularly don't think fish _have_ necessity.
 
      What caused the death of the fish is
           that you kept  him out of water for
                  80 minutes.
 
     The fish is death.
 
(Something must have caused the death).
 
Consider:
 
     P. F. Strawson is dead.
 
Something must have caused his death. Sure. Actually, 'the cause of P. F.  
Strawson's death caused P. F. Strawson's death". _Very_ informative. Just  
joking.
 
(The ref. to Strawson's death to be taken with respect, as with Dennett  
speaks of the cause of H. P. Grice as being 'non-natural' --).
 
Consider: 
 
The death of Lucrezia Borgia's son:
 
The cause: the pill (venom) his own mother gave him (Gennaro -- opera by  
Donizzetti).
 
Davidson wants to stick to the _event_ of Gennaro 'drinking' the poison.  
Ultimately Lucrezia offering the drink. Ultimately the whole rotten politics 
of  the Duchy of Mantova...
 
In "Actions and Events", I _think_ Grice wants to stick to some _willing_  
element in the case of actions causing this or that. His examples:
 
"The death of Caesar"   cause: Brutus's wicked will. Or  ill-will
"The crossing of the Rubicon" by Caesar: Caesar's good will to provoke his  
civil enemy.

Etc.
 
It's for cases involving the _will_ of the casual agent that we feel more  
at home (more at home, but less at hume) talking of 'cause'. Hence his 
remark  that it's animistic, not much different from:
 
      measles cause those spots
   
     'those spots "mean" measles'
 
 
     fire causes that smoke
 
    "smoke "means" fire"
 
---
 
     the concentrated humidity causes the dark shade in  the clouds
 
     "black clouds 'mean' rain"
 
-- From Hobbes, "Computatio", he takes the idea of 
 
          'consequence'
 
But in the use of 'mean', it's strictly a scare-quote use that is involved, 
 since clouds, spots, smoke cannot really 'mean'. Ditto for 'cannot really  
"cause". 
 
Grice dropped the scare quotes when he quoted from Stevenson. In 1944 (and  
S. R. Chapman's book helped notice me this), it's 
 
         'the thermostat 'means'  that the room is warm.
 
---
 
Questions of causation are involved two steps further with a vengeance when 
 we say,
 
        'the computer 'means' the disk  is full
 
-- The animistic side to 'mean' or 'cause' (meaning 'will' originally)  
striking indeed with a vengeance, and needing people like Searle and Haugeland  
to counter-attack!
 
Another point to consider is Aristotelian. If 'telos' _is_ cause, the usual 
 distinction between 'causal' and 'teleological' "explanation" is 
far-fetched:  the 'telos' _is_ a cause (vide Aristotle, Metaphysics now available in 
a proper  philosophy page by courtesy of R. B. Jones).
 
Cheers,
 
J. L. Speranza
 
 
**************Recession-proof vacation ideas.  Find free things to do in 
the U.S. 
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