[hist-analytic] In defense of a third dogma
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Nov 11 08:04:50 EST 2009
In a message dated 11/11/2009 7:22:23 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
There are two things Kripke might say. The first thing he would say is that
are attributing views to him he doesn't hold, and that you need to be more
specific as to where he has said what you think he believes, otherwise we
fall into impressionism. But there is another point you make, one that
in a somewhat different form was made earlier by Gareth Evans. I'm not
that they are the same point, but they are in the same spirit.
--- writes S. Bayne in reply to R. Jones on Kripke on the a posteriori/a
Reading Jones's original post, I was reminded of a few things. Of Lord
Quinton, whom Strawson thought valuable enough to include his "A priori" in
Philosophical Logic. Of Grandy being called 'mischivious' by Grice as he
(Grandy) described him (Grice) as ready to be counted to "rally to the defense
of the underdogma".
Hence the title of this post.
Quine, as every philosophical school-boy knows (I use the idiom, as
qualified, to apply to any field of expertise), considered Empiricism to be
'damped' if that's the word, by two odious dogmas: the analytic-synthetic, and
the 'base knowledge'. The first is actually a dogma of rationalism (alla
Kant) but Quine couldn't care less about rationalism. Grice came to the defense
of it, and he could have come to the defense of it as a dogma of
RATIONALISM (for he always felt to be more of a rationalist -- conservative
irreverrent, he adds in "Prejudices and Predilections" -- than an empiricist of the
boring (to him) British expectable tradition).
Yet, one does NOT see in the literature (as one sees Quinton) a lot of
arguing for or against the a priori-a posteriori, thus I found Jones's comments
For surely the original 'distinction' must have been, as Jones notes, in
terms of 'proof'. Now Jones considers Kripke is wrong in taking the a
priori/a posteriori distinction for granted. And here, to defend the underdogma,
One day I met Habermas in Buenos Aires, and I told him, "What you do is
Grice, but in German". He wasn't impressed, but I was myself nicely impressed
when I found out that my own paper (called "German Grice: Reading Habermas
Reading Grice") he (Habermas) cared to include in his "Pragmatics of
Communication" (MIT -- reference list).
For Habermas there is a 'warranty claim' as it were. Talk of warranty
claims can go over the top. As D. Frederick taught me, a lot of these Dummettian
emphasis on warranty claims (assertability claims) makes you feel that you
are talking about your right to use a public toilet!
But that need _not_ be so. It is true, as Jones notes, that there is no
'semantic' link between a claim
and its 'warranted assertability' conditions. To start with 'assertability'
has to be generalised to cover utterances of a force OTHER than assertoric
(e.g., "Prohibit gay marriage!")
But when it comes to the _conversational_ locus of a claim, the 'link',
though not semantic (and pragmatic in nature) comes to the core:
A says "p"
B understands that. He understands that by uttering "p", A means that p.
But he needs to _contribute_ further to the conversation. And thus he can
do various things. One is to provide further evidence for "p" ("Right you
are, further there's "q" which is just as a posteriori -- or a priori as the
case may be) as "p"").
Or he may wax sceptical and provide counter-evidence, "q". "Yes, but "q" --
and "q" seems to refute your claim that "p".
A second consideration seems to be Mill. I loved the cheek, moxie, panache
and debonair of a man taking empiricism to its limits. For mathematical
truths, which -- well, not Kant, as he was misguided on that front, as he
brooded over 7 + 5 = 12 which he thought 'synthetic' -- for every or almost
every other defender of the a priori-a posteriori distinction comes out as 'a
priori' were 'a posteriori'!
People did NOT laugh at Mill. They did laugh at Kant, but Mill, and his
System of Logic was still revered in Oxford at one time just before Ayer
convinced every empiricist worth his name that mathematical truths, like logical
truths, are a priori -- and mere 'regulations' of the 'logical syntax of
So, Kripke is to be revered for having allowed us to play with combos
beyond Kant. And the a priori/a posteriori distinction is a good one to
re-evaluate along his lights and other.
Could it be that 'a priori' and 'a posteriori' have a meaning OTHER than
'proof'. Well, what every schoolboy does NOT know is that SOME schoolboys
take the 'a priori' and the 'a posteriori' in terms of "TEMPORALITY", actual
After all, 'prior' IS a temporal qualifier, ednit? "Prior to the meeting,
Jones had a sandwich". Surely it would be otiose that we are talking about
proof theory here. Ditto, 'a posteriori' would be 'after the fact',
This poses the question that 'mathematical truths', as they stand, have
little to do with time, and fall under that charming label Grice re-stated in
the philosophical lexicon, "timeless" -- i.e. eternal. But the 'less' in
timeless is not the 'aeternum', for it just doesn't hold water (or make
sense) to say that
7 + 5 = 12
is 'eternal'. The thing just DOESN'T have anything to do, to echo Kripke,
chronologis. I.e. we do not NEED to postulate a t1 and a t2 (such as t1
smaller than t2, where t stands for time) such that
(t) (7 + 5 = 12).
The algebraic formula holds truth 'for all times'. We may just as well say
that "hope springs eternal" (Speranza resurge eterna). Good rhetoric, but
In his "Defense of a dogma" Grice (and yes, Strawson) held TWO criteria to
keep the dogma as valid:
--- the 'intelligibility' claim (analytically false claims are unintell
--- the 'non-credence' claim (synthetically false claims are beyond
(two sides of the same criterion, really).
Could something along those lines be held for the a priori-a posteriori.
Well, Grice in retrospect in his "Valedictory Essay" (in WoW, Epilogue) came
to see his defense as yet another Urmsonian PCA strategy. And so, if I
would like to defend the a priori-a posteriori, I too would like to be seen
doing so along Urmsonian lines.
Therefore we need to find a crystal-clear case of paradigmatic distinction,
where ALL that is RELEVANTLY said about a claim, "p" is its method of
proof. Perhaps that's back to the Vienna Circle adored by Jones and revered at
a time by Grice, 'the meaning of a proposition is its method of
We tend to overlook it, and go straight to the _content_ of what we say
because, well, we are logicians at heart and into logical form. But wait to
get your Aunt Matilda utter an incredibly extraneous judgement. You get to
know what SHE *means*, but you are not satisfied. It's not the topic that
slightly embarrass you, and you don't want, alla Quine, to 'change' it. It's
her PROOFS to utter such aunty remark.
So, in teleological justification, I would say that creatures such as human
exchange bits of information and pieces of advice that they mutually
understand. But come to the grits, they should be held responsible to supply, on
(rational) demand, ALL the justificatory steps towards such claims.
And don't mention 'rigid' to my Aunt Matilda -- she finds it a rude lexeme
out of her 'repertoire'!
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