[hist-analytic] On Steve's Comments on my Ch 2, part 2

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sun Oct 25 09:35:34 EDT 2009

Bruce has offered a number of compelling remarks. What I'm going to do is reply to them after I finish all my comments. If I digress to answer each point of disagreement, then I will probably never finish the book, itself. 

One problem with his using pdf is that I can't quote from it very easily. Still there are numerous areas where I need to comment. Sometimes Bruce seems to suggest that I am in a state of complete ignorance and bewilderment over Kripke.. For example he says "Steve wonders why a certain designator (i.e. a certain description) whould designate the same thing in all possible worlds." Then he goes on to give an account that simply does not answer the question! Kripke, himself , gives an answer which in no way, even remotely resembles Bruce's. In fact, Bruce doesn't appear to be address this question, but I can't really tell. If you've read Kripke, you KNOW what the answer to the question is. Here are Kripke's own words: 

"My main remark, then, is that we have a DIRECT INTUITION of the rigidity of names..." (NN. p. 13). 

Now Bruce has been very hard on the concept of inuition, but Kripke relies on it everywhere. Take another example: 

"Of course some philosphers think that something's having intuitive content is very inconclusiver evidence in favor of it. I think it is very heavy evidence in favor of anything myself." (NN p. 42). 

So Bruce never does give a clear answer to the question: "What evidence or reason do I have for believing that a name is a rigid designator?" Kripke's answer is intuition. If there is a better example IN THE TEXT, then I'd like to see it. One other point. 

Bruce and I differ wildly, I think, in our general orientation. My belief is that much analytical philosophy for the most part over the last twenty years or so is not wortth reading. Instead we should be reading better philosophy we have forgotten about in favor of a hand full of half understood puzzles that have no bearing on the major themes as understood in the history of philosophy. Kripke doesn't "have a clue" as to what Kant said or meant, on most major issues. This is not to slight his work. But it is symptomatic of "troubled times." The fact that today in analytical philosophy "we" mean such and such simply won't cut it. You can't get away with reading the rubbish in the current journals. Clearly there is some very good stuff, but the trend is obvious. So we differ on Kant. I know of no philosopher who brought so many concepts together. Kripke's work is replete with references to "intuition." Now maybe we mean something else by that term these days, but life is short and I'll stick with Kant. He has not been refuted on virtually any issue in my opinion. As I go through Bruce's invigorating work, keep in mind that I will be viewing it as if I were a strict Kantian. (As strict as possible). 

I'm preparing a large body of work to be put on Hist-Analytic. Also, I am htmling a new front page. Also, I have a lot of comments on the rest of Bruce's chapter. I'll have it out in a few days, unless I read the paper Putnam wrote on colors. I was never happy with this paper, although it is quite good, and I'm thinking about rereading it, but this might cause delay. So I probably won't. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune1 at verizon.net> 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com 
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 10:36:11 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: On Steve's Comments on my Ch 2, part 2 

Steve takes issue with what I say about logic in chapter 2. He does not describe my position accurately, though, and his objections call for some clarification. 

Rationalists typically claim that they can simply “see” the truth of basic logical laws such as the principle of non-contradiction.   I argue against this, saying that such “laws” have a kind of generality that makes them an inappropriate object of a supposed truth-ascertaining act of mental “vision.”   I will enumerate and state some of the claims I was making. 

    1. The “laws” in question are normally stated in schematic form.   Steve uses quantifers, but they are not normally  stated that way (unless substitution-quantifiers are used), for a reason I mention in footnote 26.   The actual content of the laws is that all instances of the schemas are true. 

    1. I claim that the supposed acts of vision cannot survey the relevant instances and therefore add credibility to the claim that all of them are true.   How do I know that the mental survey fails in this way?   For three distinguishable reasons.   (A) Some sentences that have the appearance of being appropriate instances can be shown to be false if classical logical principles are applied to them; (B) Some such sentences are arguably not true, though they are not false; and (C) Arguments corresponding to conditional sentences supposedly expressing logical truths are actually debatable and have convinced very intelligent philosophers that they are counter instances to supposedly valid arguments. 

    1. The arguments given in my second chapter are expressed in language that I have worked very hard to make transparently clear.   I have read them over many times, and I am convinced that I succeeded in making them clear. I can’t expect to improve on them in a short post, but knowing that they span a large chunk of text, I can at least highlight a number of points that bring out crucial steps in my argument that some readers, Steve and Danny Frederic included, seemed to miss. The points in question shouldn’t be considered controversial. They are actually quite familiar to all teachers of logic in any but the most elementary level. 

    1. Here is a comment on my reason (A) stated in paragraph 2 above. 

        1. I identify two statements supporting reason (A). I describe one sentence as appearing in a sphere and another appearing in a rectangle.   The sentence are, ‘The sentence in the rectangle is true’ and ‘The sentence in the circle is false’. From the two sentences I derive a contradiction.  

        1. Steve says, “As for the derivation, what it shows is that one of the two statements (or both), either the one in the rectangle is false or the one in the circle is false. Which one is it?”   This is wrong . My derivation is valid, and its conclusion has the form of “p and not-p. We do not “know” that one of these conjuncts is false and not true. What we know is this: If standard logic applies to them, they are both true and both false. The proof I give shows this. 

        1. Steve thinks that my claim can be refuted by using truth tables.   He is wrong.   A proper truth table will have values for sentences that are truth-functions of the elementary statements occurring in the argument.   Two such statements are the disjunctions from which a conjunction, ‘A and not-A’, is inferred. This conjunction tops a column containing Ts and only Ts. There will, of course, be another column under another such conjunction containing only Fs. 

        1. Observation: I do not claim that the contradictions I derive should be accepted as both true and false, as some contemporary logicians do (e.g. Graham Priest). My claim is that the decision of how to accommodate them requires argumentative considerations far more discursive than anything plausibly supplied by immediate intuition.   Their status as true or false requires a kind of support not available to the rationalist. 

    1. Here is my comment on reason B: 

        1. Certain vague statements are widely conceded to violate the principle of bivalence, which requires statements to have the value T or F but not both.   If “Tom is thin” is such a statement, then if it is abbreviated as “A”, the conjunction “A and not-A” and the disjunction “A or not-A” should not have the value T, which classical logic requires.   Immediate intuition provides no counter-assurance that they are true.   It is philosophically useless here. 

        1. Steve offers some criticisms of my claims regarding B, but they do not succeed. He says, for instance, “what Bruce seems to be denying by interjecting [a third value] ‘IND’ is not the principle of excluded middle but, rather bivalence.” Not true. If certain statements are assigned a third value distinct from truth and falsity, the conjunctions and disjunctions mentioned in the last paragraph will not have the value T, which they should have if classical logic accommodates them.   The principle of excluded middle would thus have a counter instance, not a false one but one not having the value T. 

        1. Steve says, “if a sentence is vague, it is reasonable to suppose that there is no proposition it expresses. If the sentence does not express a proposition, then it might be maintained that it has no truth value. If it has no truth value it cannot provide the sort of counterexample Aune is looking for.”   Claiming that vague sentences don’t express propositions and therefore don’t belong within the purview of standard logic is a familiar move in philosophical logic.   I don’t think it is a very plausible move, because vague statements are often clearly true or clearly false. “Fat” might be a vague predicate, but if Sally in anorexic, the statement “Sally is fat” is clearly false.   Vague statements are neither true nor false when they are asserted of borderline cases.   But however this may be, the decision to regard vague statements as not expressing propositions and therefore as not being covered by classical logic principles is not incompatible with anything I claim. I was arguing against the rationalist claim that basic logical truths are known by immediate intuition.   But this kind of intuition does not identify vague statements as excluded instances of classical logical principles.   The decision to classify them in a way that does plausibly exclude them fits in nicely with the position I was defending. 

        1. I might mention here that Steve suggested a way of excluding paradoxical self-referring statements from the scope of classical logic; he said that Russell’s vicious circle principle or Zermelo’s “approach” might work.   Steve’s details aren’t right, since Russell’s vicious circle principle succumbed to criticism by Frank Ramsey, and Zermelo’s “approach” has nothing to do with the so-called semantic paradoxes (it provided an alternative to Frege’s axiom of abstraction in set theory, to which Russell had given a counter instance). But the basic strategy Steve used was in full agreement with what I was claiming. The paradoxical assertions are not surveyed, let alone accommodated, by the rationalist’s appeal to immediate intuition. The latter is powerless to discriminate proper from reasonably excluded instances of logical laws and inference patterns. 

    1. Re reason [C]. In spite of what he said about Russell and Zermelo, Steve says he still “takes a position something like the one Bruce argues against. But my position is not that there is a special class of propositions that intuition justifies, but rather that certain inferences are justified by means of a rational intuition.” My argument against knowing inferences are valid this way is based specifically on arguable counter instances to modus ponens, which some shrewd philosophers defend claim. The plausibility of these instances undermines the supposed compelling evidence provided by rational intuition.   But Steve has not yet commented on these instances; in a recent note to me, he says he is in the process of preparing comments on them. 

    1. Final remark:   I was not concerned to argue that classical logic (laws or inference patterns) is defective in any way.   Rather, I wanted to identify statements and laws that appear to be contrary to such laws or patterns and whose status as true, false, acceptable or unacceptable rests on a basis clearly different from immediate intuition. I think that the rationalist position offers an over-simplified and erroneous picture of how logical laws and patterns of inference—their acceptable and excluded instances—are reasonably identified and justified.   Showing this was perhaps my basic concern in chapter 2. 

Bruce Aune 
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