[hist-analytic] Toulmin and the Play Group

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Thu Dec 17 09:55:14 EST 2009

  JL , 

Thanks for this. I DO have some leads on Toulmin's estate, which I hope to 

follow up on soon. Actually, I'm behind in doing something similar with 

Scriven . Just a couple of point. 

First, P. H. Nowell-Smith informed me in correspondence some years 

ago that he was in this group. In fact, a close read of his _Ethics_ reveals 

some striking use of language one finds in Austin. I asked him if these 

locutions ( I don't have them at my finger tips) were his or Austin's. He 

was uncommitted but seemed to indicate they were Austin's. Also, the 

expression 'pro-attitude' occurs in Nowell-Smith's _Ethics_ which we 

find in Davidson. 

Toulmin indicated to me in discussion, by the way, that in his memoirs 

he would give definitive statement on what transpired with respect to 

"Wittgenstein's poker." 

Hugely busy. I found a non-sequitur in D. Lewis in Convention. I stumbled 

across it while examining "reciprocity" in Rawls, mainly because I was 

in discussion with a bright fellow who disagreed with me based on 


I've got a mountain of stuff on the color problem and Aune. It's gotta 

come to a stop. I might risk ridicule by simply beginning to post it 

without caveats, hedging, qualifications etc. I want to get on with 

Aune's book. His stuff on concepts, meaning and the analytic are 

superb. So I might just raise this "crap" of mine up the flag pole 

and see if anyone salutes. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jlsperanza @ aol .com 
To: hist-analytic@ simplelists .co. uk 
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:49:21 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Re: Toulmin and the Play Group 

Thanks to S. Bayne for his comments. Excellent to KNOW that Toulmin   
subscribed to Hist-Anal. I suppose his son, Greg, though of a state other than   
California, will try and have the Toulmin papers (if he left any) safely   
deposited in some uni. It would be interesting to know in which. 

I have done some little more research about his associations with  Oxford's 
play group (i.e. the Saturday morningers of Austin). Toulmin was   
university lecturer in the philosophy of science from 1949 to 1954 -- but I  still 
ignore which college he was associated with. 

This was the heyday of "Oxford ordinary school philosophy" almost (as   
Grice notes in "Prejudices and Predilections", in Grandy et al , " PGRICE "), so it 
 is not surprising that there ARE some cross-references: 
The cross references seem  perhaps minimal. I have been able to trace 
   -- Hare, R. M. Review of Toulmin , An examination of the place  of 
          reason in ethics.  Philosophical Quarterly 1951. 
          Note that this is an  early Hare. In fact, I unburied that 
reference when Hare died, and I was  checking the list of his publications from 
his Practical Inferences. I would  hope Hare's son deposited his 
unpublications , if he left any, safely  somewhere 
   -- Urmson , J. O. The province of logic: being a review 
        of Toulmin , The uses of  argument. In Nature, 1958, pp. 213- 
(doublecheck page number) 
        available online if you  log-in. If a member to this can do that 
and share pdf with us, nice 
     (See Toulmin's refs. to Urmson below) 
    -- Strawson , P. F. Review of Toulmin , 
       The uses of argument. In The Listener,  the BBC weekly, 1958. 
Apparently, Toulmin was more affiliated with the OTHER group popular or   
influential at the time, led by Ryle . Ryle was possibly Toulmin's doktorvater   
(if the term applies) while in Oxford (as Braithwaite had been in 
Cambridge). Of  course, unofficial, since Toulmin had earned his DPhil already with 
the  "Examination of the place of reason in ethics". Toulmin acknowledges 
Ryle in  Uses of Argument and indeed shares a good anecdote: Otto Bird provided 
a review  of Uses of Argument for _Mind_ due to Ryle (who edited it). In 
that review Bird  connects Toulmin's enterprise with Aristotle's in Topica . I 
have a friend who  dedicates her life to Topica so she should be pleased. 
She dedicates her life to  book VIII, of the Topica , if you can believe that. 
Graciella Chichi. 
So, there are some references to Oxford philosophers who were not part of   
the playgroup. Some I'm not sure, e.g. D. G. Brown. 
-- But when it comes to playgroup members proper (the list I take from   
Grice , op. cit. above) we have -- alphabetically: 
    AUSTIN, J. L. Toulmin cites ONLY "Other Minds". This is  an interesting 
essay by Austin which 
      -- as it relates to Grice's A-philosophers  -- has been commented by 
Roger B. Jones. Toulmin 
      is concerned with 'qualifiers' to 'claims to   knowledge' . He is 
having in view his model for 
      argument, complete with claim, data,  warrant, backing, and rebuttal. 
      Austin was alive then, but his early death  meant a stop to any 
further cross-reference here. 
    HARE, R. M. Toulmin deals extensively (or perhaps not so  extensively) 
with Hare, Language 
       of Morals. Oddly, he is not into what  Hare would later call 
micropragmatic (the subatomic 
       particles of logic: the clistic ,  tropic, neustic and phrastic ). 
Instead Toulmin passes 
       muster of the is-ought question as it  relates to practical 
inferences, and how you cannot 
       claim a value-judgement unless at  least one of the data is also a 
value-judgement, etc. 
    HART, H. L. A. Toulmin cites from the locus classicus by  Hart on the 
ascription of responsibilities 
       and rights. He is interested in the  ceteris-paribus defeasibility 
of inferential patterns. He notes 
       re: Hart something he possibly did not  like of critics reading his 
own ( Toulmin's work): the 
       legalese. In the case of Hart, it can  be said that legalese (or 
jurisprudential reasoning) was 
       at the 'heart' of it, as he would  later become Prof. of 
Jurisprudence at Oxford -- a fact that 
       perhaps lost him to the narrow  philosophical community. (In 
Argentina, it was the fashion 
       of 'lawyers' to get a Brit Council  fellowship and earn a doctorate 
under Hart, e.g. C. S. Nino ). 
     STRAWSON , P. F. Toulmin cites extensively from  "Introduction to 
Logical Theory". I would assume 
      that Strawson's review of Toulmin for the  Listener SHOULD have 
concentrated on his criticisms of 
       Strawson . Toulmin was particularly hurt, it  seems, that Strawson 
only cared to 'roundly damn' the 
      book. Toulmin's observations on various  aspects of Strawson's 
programme merit a closer 
     URMSON , J. O. Toulmin quotes various essays  by Urmson . Perhaps the 
most important one, 
      for which he does not care to give the exact   biblio reference is 
"Two senses of 'probable' ". This 
      has an anti-Gricean ring to it (recall his  modified Ockham's razor, 
'do not multiply senses 
      beyond necessity' ), and its treatment  occupies a whole section of 
Toulmin's book ambiguously 
      titled, "Is 'probably' ambiguous?". His  prose is so subtle that I 
wasn't sure if he meant 
      that it's not. I guess " 'probable' NOT  ambiguous" would have made 
for a better title of a 
      section if that was his claim. As with   Strawson , Hart, and Austin, 
Toulmin provides the 
      full biblio references at the end of his  book. So, we see he is also 
using Urmson's wonderful 
      essay on "Validity" (where he pre-dates   Grice in some of the 
conversational maxims, etc.). 
      He also quotes from Urmson , "On grading". A  classic repr . along with 
R. Hall, Excluders , 
      in Chappel (as I recall). 
There may be other cross-references I missed. In any case, this is the   
Toulmin that, historically, interests me. He has a topical, "On describing",   
co-authored with Baier , which was possibly very influential THEN. For some   
reason, whatever interest he had in ways that overlapped with the 
playgrouppers  evolved into something different. He was possibly of broader interests. 
He  quotes extensively for example from Ryle's colleague, Kneale and his 
work on  induction and probability. So he was perhaps less parochial than the 
Saturday  morning as wickedly recollected by Warnock -- 'we were only 
interested in what  the others of the group were thinking' (Saturday mornings, in 
Berlin, Essays on  Austin). This is perhaps unfair on Grice , since he is seen 
quoting a distant  author like Stevenson, or a not so distant one like 
Witters -- and with a  straight face, too! 
JL Speranza 
   The Grice Club, etc. 
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