[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,  
I will.
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 
the  world'.
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',  
temporally qualified.
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'!
JL Speranza
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://rbjones.com/pipermail/hist-analytic_rbjones.com/attachments/20091111/d29e9920/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list