[hist-analytic] Criteria of Intensionality

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed May 27 12:38:42 EDT 2009

J. O. Urmson -- and someone should COLLECT his  manifestly GENIAL papers --
has this "Criteria of intensionality" as a  Proceedings of Aristotelian
Society. And I have considered some uses of  'intension' by Grice. Here, in a
sort of reply to R. B. Jones's request for  clarification as to what Grice
meant by "Extensionalism" as being one of the  (nine, I think) 'betes noires'
of MINIMALISM, is what Grice displays in "Life  and Opinions" -- available
as googlebooks:

Grice says he'll select  "Extensionalism" -- "a position imbued with the
spirit of Nominalism and dear  both to those who feel that (b) is no more
informative an answer to the question  (a) than would be (d) as an answer to

a: Why is a pillar  box called 'red'?
b: Because  it is red.
c: And why is  that person called 'Paul  Grice'?
d: Because he is  Paul Grice.

The picture of Extensionalism Grice presents is: "a  world of PARTICULARS
as a domain
stocked with tiny pellets ...  distinguish[ed] by the clubs to which they
belong". "The potential consequences  of the possession of in fact
UNEXEMPLIFIED features [or properties] would be ...  the same."

One may want to "relieve a certain VACUOUS predicate ... by  exploiting the
 NON-VACUOUSNESS of other predicates which are constituents  in the
definition of the original vacuous predicate." Grice exemplifies with two  vacuous

1 -- " ... is married to a daughter of an English  queen and a pope"
2 -- " ... is a climber on hands and knees of a 29,000 foot  mountain."

By appealing to different "relations" to the 'primitive'  predicates, one
can claim is such _distinct_ relations, rather than the empty  set which each
vacuous predicate is made equivalent to. His objection to this  move has to
do with what he feels an adhocness in defining the relations as  involving
NON-VACUOUS  predicates.
-- the relevant  passage is available as google books --. (p. 70).

A second way out to the  alleged problem involves 'trivial' versus
'non-trivial' explanations: "the  explanatory opportunities for vacuous predicates
depend on their embodiment in a  system". His caveat here is purely

"I conjecture,  but cannot demonstrate, that the only way to secure such a
system would be to  confer SPECIAL ONTOLOGICAL privilege upon the ENTITIES
of PHYSICAL SCIENCE..."  -- But that's Eddington "non-visible" 'table'. Grice
"It looks AS IF states of  affairs in the ... scientific world need, for
credibility, support from the  vulgar world of ORDINARY OBSERVATION..." --
Eddington's _visible_  'table'.
And this, he feels would  be an 'embellisment' in need of some

Urmson's essay takes  a different approach to intensions, from what I

JL  Speranza

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