[hist-analytic] Red And Green All Over Again

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Jan 6 17:45:49 EST 2010

Just a biblio note of possibly hist-analytic  interest re: B. Aune's  
important points below.

Checking for the very  source of Grice's  example cited by Chapman -- below 

I add this  charmingly  titled (I find) series of articles in Analysis

Hilton, J. "Red  and  green all over again". Analysis, vol. 22
Putnam, H. "Red and green all   over again". PR, vol. 66 --

Incidentally, this connects with D. F.  Pears'  earliest publications, 
notably his "Necessary Synthetic"  article in Mind which  B. Williams in 
foreword to the Pears  festschrift thinks a presequel to  Pears' 
of Colours".  

As for Grice, the  proposition,

(1) Nothing can be red and  green all over

_exercised_  him a good deal, Chapman notes (_Grice_)  and would go and 
its status with  his children's playmates. His  serious note, though, is in 
an   unpublication, where Grice  appeals to 'philosophical wisdom', if 
is such a  thing -- I am  with B. Aune that it's possibly yet another dogma 
of empiricism,  if I  understand him aright.

Grice writes of (1), "is a supposed [by who?   Kant the earliest source? 
JLS] candidate
for statement that is both  synthetic  and _a priori_." (Chapman's wording, 
but relating to Grice's  "own notes" on the  topic. The reference being to:

Grice, H. P. "The  Way of Words", Studies  in: Notes, Offprints and Draft 
Material. H. P.  Grice Papers. BANC MSS 90/135c,  The Bancroft Library, 
University of  California,  Berkeley.


J. L.  Speranza


In a message  dated 1/6/2010 9:28:33 A.M.  Eastern Standard Time, 
aune at philos.umass.edu  writes:
In his section  “On The Significance of the ‘Two color Problem’,”  Steve 
considers what  we should say if “we take” the two-color proposition to be 
synthetic.  What we should say should depend, I think, on what we regard as 
true.   The proposition contains a modal auxiliary, “can,” together with  “
which  adds up to the idea of impossibility. What kind of  possibility is 
this supposed  to be? In my book I mentioned that, owing  to the structure 
our eyes, it  appears to be physically impossible  for anything to be seen 
both red and  green. So if the relevant  “cannot” is understood as 
connoting physical  impossibility, the  two-color proposition may well be 
and true. But  philosophers  who think it is true do not base their 
on scientific   evidence; they think of the relevant “cannot” as 
representing a kind  of  possibility that can be known a priori. Steve 
himself views it 
this  way; he  thinks of the proposition so understood as representing an  
item of a priori  knowledge. Empiricists would not agree with this  
they do not believe  that this kind of knowledge is possible  (to use Kant’
language). Kant’s  Critique of Pure Reason was  explicitly concerned to 
how such knowledge is  possible (in the  three areas where Kant thought we 
such knowledge), but  Kant’s  efforts were pretty clearly a failure. (I 
taught the Critique at   least twenty times, and I have no doubt about this 
matter.) I also devoted  the  second chapter of my book to criticizing 
contemporary attempts to  defend the  existence of such knowledge. So I am 
that it is  not “possible.” But I  did think I could show that the 
two-color  proposition, qualified to apply to  specific rather than generic 
can reasonably be regarded as analytic.  That, I believe, is an  important 
result; it solves a problem that has been  around for a very  long time.  
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