Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jan 9 16:56:56 EST 2010
In a message dated 1/9/2010 1:47:15 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes in "Re: The arbitrariness of convention: revisited"
Yes, you are absolutely right. I was unclear on what you meant
exactly but your point is well taken.
It may be a non-arbitrary decision whether to have traffic
rules, or conventions, but it is arbitrary as to _which_
conventions to adopt. This is the fundamental difference
between convention for Lewis and contract. In social contract
there are no alternatives; that is, there is only the state of
nature or the social contract, unlike the case of traffic laws.
Take a look at Lewis _Convention_ p. 96 for the point your
Thanks. I do think too it's a good feature, 'arbitrariness'. After posting
my post, though, I thought that the way I got to understood it was via
Searle's use of Rawls on brute/institutional and regulative/constitutive.
Distinctions we need not buy.
But I think it is an example by Searle, in his Speech Acts. Consider
To fish is to take fish out of water. Any procedure that gets to that point
would NOT be conventional. You have the goal: to take fish out of water,
and any means to achieve the goal are procedures of the most primitive,
underived type. Perhaps 'procedure' (I'm thinking in terms of Lewis's
'regularities' here) may involve a reference to a habitual practice. I wouldn't
think I have a 'procedure' to achieve Goal g, by exercising means M if I only
do it _once_ -- but cfr. Blackburn on Grice on one-off meaning in _Spreading
the word_ --. And this distinction of procedure is really not needed by
Grice until he gets to be troubled by 'expression' rather than 'utterer's'
Now, if the fishing pole is painted _red_ in Korea, say, one may say that
is a conventional thing. For why not paint it _blue_. The fact that official
fishing poles in say, country C, for fishing tournement, need to be
painted the specific colour C', seems _conventional_.
Another example would be, to hold the fork with the left hand and the knife
with the right hand seems _arbitrary_ and thus conventional.
But there are important issues, here as they concern your reference to the
'state of nature'. For for a naturalist, _all_ is natural, even conventions
-- So there's no way we can draw a definite line: up to here is 'phusei'
as the Greeks wanted, and from now on it is 'thesei', convention.
And in introspection, what regularities we engage in are _truly_ arbitrary
or conventional in this sense? I happen to adhere to the bow-wow theory of
the origin of language, so do think that names were basically onomatopoetic
in nature, alla Plato's Kratyl. So, to think that 'pluie' means,
arbitrarily, or conventionally, 'rain', in French, is quite a stretch.
But more on this later, I hope.
I title the thing as I do, since this is a coinage by Grice to add, "I do
not believe that meaning is essentially tied to convention; I can invent a
language, call it "Deutero-Esperanto"; that makes me the master". Or words
to that perlocutionary effect (WoW Meaning Revisited, googlebooks). Must say
I loved that claim!
Note too that more technically, Grice can do without conventions (at least
as it pertains to 'meaning') when -- perhaps contra Lewis -- he allows the
mode-of-correlation (his variable 'c' in his full-blown definition of
utterer's meaning occupying a whole page of his WoW, Googlebooks, Utterer's
meaning and intentions) to be: either
But back to the state of nature, I forgot to mention, perhaps that this E.
A. Rabossi was so into the naturalism of rights that it hurt me. He always
tried to oppose the views of one C. S. Nino who had his DPhil Oxon under
Hart -- while Rabossi was more of a Gricean one.
J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club
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