[hist-analytic] In defense of a third dogma

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu Nov 12 10:43:52 EST 2009

On Wednesday 11 November 2009 13:04:50 Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:

> 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'.

I'm not convinced he did (consider it, assuming that to entail belief), but he 
did say something like that.

> The first is actually a dogma of rationalism
> (alla Kant)  but Quine couldn't care less about rationalism.

I don't think either side can claim ownership, it is after all, Hume's fork.

> 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 refreshing.

Though I wasn't actually doing that! I too take the distinction for granted, 
though I expect some better explication than Kripke's intuitions.

> For surely the original 'distinction' must have been, as Jones notes,  in
> terms of 'proof'.

Well, "justification".
An empiricist has to settle for less that proof most of the time.

> Now Jones considers Kripke is wrong in taking the a
> priori/a posteriori distinction for granted.

I think his arguments disputing the coincidence of necessity and a priority 
are fallacious.

> 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!

Danny insists that justification must mean something other than I mean by it, 
in fact it is for him I believe, a "vacuous concept" (which would be sufficient 
reason in my book to use the word for something else) so its hard to include 
him in a conversation in which the word justification plays a significant role.

However, so far as my arguments go. its not important what a justification is, 
it suffices that we have an idea of what a priori and a posteriori mean as 
properties of justifications.

> 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.

I'm afraid I can't follow you there.

I wouldn't mind if Kripke were explicitly exploring alternative meanings for 
these concepts.  We could then judge the alternatives on their merits.
But his intuitive method allows him simply to trash the preceding conceptual 
schemes without offering a well considered replacement, and lacks any 

> 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 temporality.

A posteriori definitely excludes logical proof, and the discussions of the 
relations between analytic/necessary/a priori need not get into the matter,
for the distinction between a priori and a posteriori can be stated in terms 
of whether the justification makes material use of contingent propositions (or 
sensory input) without any need to consider the detail of what justifications 
might suffice (which question might be answered in lots of different ways 
according to context, and in very few contexts is proof expected).

> 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.

I don't think time really has a place here.
Prior in some ordering, not necessarily temporal, and in this case prior to 
admitting empirical evidence or contingent premises.

> 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.

What's a PCA strategy?

> 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
> verification'.

That's not a bit that I swallowed (and I'm not the adoring kind).


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