[hist-analytic] Steve's and Roger's recent interchange

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 29 21:25:55 EDT 2009

The question is whether the following is true:

"Carnap was surely quite clear that the propositions of analytic philosophy are analytic."
I provided counterexamples. But then there was a sort of mission creep. What I mean is that what began as a claim about whether any philosopher can assert a proposition of analytic philosophy which is not analytic became the question whether *Carnap*  ever asserted a proposition of analytical philosophy which was not analytic. I pointed out that I believe he had. But then, Bruce, addressed yet a different issue: Can I produce an instance of a statement of analytical philosophy which is (a) distinctively philosophical and (b) is neither analytically true (nor false) nor empirical--that is, not known by observation, memory, and (broadly speaking) inductive inference. If this is the question, then it is "surely quite clear" that there are such propositions. But this does not appear to be the question Bruce now raises. 

The question he appears to be raising is whether there is any such instance in Carnap that Carnap would admit to. Now that is another matter altogether, one I never had in mind when the original question arose. It is one thing to restrict the propositions an analytical philosopher can meaningfully assert; it is another to say that if Carnap would not make such an assertion then neither can another analytical philosophy. Notice another slight emendation of the original issue. There is a move from things like "legitimate objects" to the insistence on the satisfaction of a truth condition, as if no sentence of analytical philosophy whether Carnap's or some other's can be false or, alernatively, untrue. Would any of Goodman's main theses in The Structure of Appearance qualify? I don't think so. Goodman is not setting out a system of truths; rather it is a way of "world making" that is of giving the logical structure of experience. That is what Goodman is up
 to. But giving the logical structure of the world is something Carnap gave up on. The philosopher is not attempting to provide information of an exotic sort, in this instance; nor was Descartes, for that matter.

If we make it a requirement that it be true, or something we can in principle know to be true, then I think we've set the bar a bit too high in order to qualify as a proposition of a certain sort, as if having sense (of any sort) depended on being true (or false) a familiar fallacy. Part of the problem here is that Carnap never really appreciated, as did Sellars, for example, what all is philosophically relevant to the distinction between sensation and observation. No philosophical remarks of value that I know of concerning the relation of sensation to perception has been either empirical or analytic. Even so in many cases observation is not sufficient, where it may be necessary. 

Carnap as early as "Testability and Meaning" came to realize that "choice" enters into our understanding of what we take a term to mean. So choice and truth are linked in a way that disguises certain issues; it is a way of obviating the need for non-cognitive elements. I think it is something of a parlor trick but it does allow a resolution of certain issues in a way sufficiently uninteresting as to inspire belief among impatient empiricists. But while this is relevant it may be tangential.

Lumping induction, observation, memory etc. raises further questions. I already gave an example which EVEN in Carnap's case is neither an empirical truth nor an analytical truth: the properties of space-time may have no metrical features. Carnap can easily accommodate the restrictions Bruce is attempting to impose by introducing choice or selection. 



--- On Wed, 7/29/09, Bruce Aune <aune at philos.umass.edu> wrote:

From: Bruce Aune <aune at philos.umass.edu>
Subject: Re: Steve's and Roger's recent interchange
To: "steve bayne" <baynesrb at yahoo.com>
Cc: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 7:44 PM

I think Steve got carried away by HUME's distinction between relations of ideas and matters of fact and existence. I started with that to emphasize the empiricist theme, but I quickly turned to Carnap's refinement of that distinction in terms of analytic truths (or falsity) and empirical truths.  My claims were about Carnap' views, not Hume's.  If Steve wants to refute me, he has to provide a counter-instance to my claims--specifically, he has to provide a clearly true (or false) statement that is (a) distinctively philosophical and (b) is neither analytically true (nor false) nor empirical--that is, not known by observation, memory, and (broadly speaking) inductive inference.  Furthermore, if (c) he provides an example satisfying (a) and (b), he should meet my challenge of telling us how we are supposed know that it is true.  I can't see that he has done any of this.
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