[hist-analytic] Grice and Carnap on Analysis
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Feb 6 19:51:06 EST 2010
Re: "reductive analysis" as used by Grice WoW:RE versus 'reductionist
"I don't object to it. As I understand it reductive analysis is a way of
analysing aspects of languages, and this is not something I do systematically
(I might be obliged to do it ad hoc in the course of a conversation, but
natural languages are never the subject matter of my philosophy, so I don't
do this kind of thing
I'm going to use "NL" for "natural language". It's not a construction I
use, but see Jones does. I'll oppose it to FL, formal language, which I don't
use it either but he does.
I think that the _linguistic_ version of 'reductive analysis' is just
_one_: surely one that appealed to Grice. But in his day, they were never sure
what 'linguistic' meant. Recall that I think Bergmann had coined 'linguistic
revolution', or 'linguistic turn'. EVERYTHING was linguistic. To use your
charmer: it was a linguistic TOE. But they used 'linguistic' so freely that
they sometimes engaged in what irritated Mundle (The critique of
LINGUISTIC philosophy, Oxford, 1973) -- a charming book by an opponent that I rather
read any day before some exercises in silly linguistic analysis. This man
has charm): He analyses abuses of
'the grammar of ...'
'the logical syntax of ...'
While Grice and Strawson would be seen as merely analysing usages, etc.
they were, or thought they were into concepts. Kemmerling found out this the
hard way. He wrote his PhD in German on 'meaning'. Surely he had to use
'meinen' (German for meaning). He found that none of the Gricean clauses
applied to 'meinen'. He is still my favourite Continental German, if you can
"I am like Carnap in that my deliberations about language are either about
language in general (e.g. in discussing concepts like analyticity, though
this only applies to descriptive language), or else they are about formal
languages. In the latter case I tend to prescribe a semantics, and though
mathematical logicians might define a logical system and then do something
like analysis to determine what are its models., I don't think they call this
analysis, and I'm confident they wouldn't call it reductive analysis."
Good. I think ONE way to approach this is via ch. ii of my PhD thesis. Just
joking. There, I analyse Grice's claim to analyse 'and' versus the
logician's AND. The implicature "and then" as in
"Oh, Mary -- she is very fine. She got married and had a child."
It may well turned out that the proceeding was: she did have a child, a
single married, suffered quite a bit for it, and eventually married the vicar.
But now she is, oh, so very fine."
For Grice, 'and' implicates 'and then'. So, in NL. In FL it never does.
Even in NL it never does. Why, well because in his system Q -- he only cared
to compile such a FL when tributing Quine, in Davidson/Hintikka, Festchrift
for Quine -- 'p & q' is defined truth-functionally. There are two ways of
doing this: via Grentzen-type inference rules, and via truth-tables. Both
yield the same, syntax-based or semantic-based analysis of "&". Think of PM
Principia Mathematica -- and their heris as Grice calls them. Think of the
definition of the iota operator, as in
ix.Kx & -Bx
the king of France is not bald. Wrong logical form: correct logical form:
-(ix.Kx & Bx)
-- by using the SECOND logical form, you avoid the silly implicature: the
king of France is NOT bald: there's none!
"Well I do want to know why Grice objects to reductionist analysis. I can
see in specific cases that it doesn't work. I have never been in the least
tempted to suppose that material objects can be analysed into phenomena.
But on the other hand, fundamental physics seems to be seeking a "TOE" and
there is no reason in principle why such a TOE might not involve just one
kind of individual substance. The claim that a theory is a TOE takes a bit of
understanding, and whatever the relationship between the TOE and the rest
of science there will be a temptation to call it some kind of reduction,
which by Grice would then count
as reductionist? From my scant knowledge of Grice I would be surprised if
he came out against the possibility of a single substance TOE (if that were
thought to be scientifically tenable). What do you think?"
I THINK one problem may be Hitler.
Suppose the TOE explains all that Hitler did. But we may still find that
this is insufficient. We want to analyse history in terms of the intentions
of the historical agents. I don't think proponents of TOE are going to go
over the details. So they may analyse Hitler as a general case of
pharmaceutical even phenomena. In broader terms, what I think Grice did object --
especially in the closing section of The conception of value -- the devil of
scientism in his Method: from the banal to the bizarre -- is that an
explanation in terms of the most fundamental physical theory -- call it TOE -- may
leave us cold when we are dealing at ANOTHER level of theory.
It seems he would say that the choice of 'theoretical concepts' is just
that. The TOE works with some THEORETICAL (hence TOE) objects. But folksy
wisdom has its own theoretical objects. The theory of the folk (and Grice could
get repetitive here -- in later years he became more and more a defender
of the common woman) will work for the folk in a way which the TOE may not?
The schematics of how a stratum of theory -- which he calls C -- may be
insufficient for another stratum C' is out there in the paper. I have
discussed it elsewhere. If I find the relevant quote I will provide. Since he is
not, as he usually is not, being dogmatic.
"Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I do not yet see an
irreconcilable difference between Grice and Carnap on this. I think as far as a TOE is
concerned, Carnap would be interested without prejudice in exploring the
question how the rest of science would relate to such a theory (this must fall
squarely in the project of unified science), and he would bend and stretch
his conception of the relationship until he found
one which worked. In a rather different way I would have thought that
Grice would have a similar attitude. What he was rejecting was not a
scientific reduction, but a radical positivistic one, which was scientifically
untenable? And Carnap was pragmatic rather than dogmatic, he had already
abandoned naive phenomenalistic reductionism."
You are right. The idea that material-object sentences could be reduced to
sense-datum sentences was indeed old fish, and posited to prove how wrong a
blind empiricist can go. I always understood it in terms of, strange as it
seems, Picasso's paintings.
The ugly women he depicts are supposed to represent the woman as seen from
almost every angle. The result is disastrous. Similarly, the phenomenalist
is trying to capture the complexity of a thing like "The cat is on the mat"
in terms of all the sensations, notably infinite or very numerous, that
are instilled on me for me to able able to utter that sentence.
Grice would perhaps call TOE theory-theory or first philosophy, but more of
"Yes, I completely misconstrued this last time, thinking it was offered as
a general pattern for the analysis of propositions "p", but it is rather a
specific analysis of the meaning of "means that",
At least I hope that the intended content of that sentence is that "means
that" means "intends that", because if it is construed as telling us
about the meaning of p (which is how I at first took it) then I would have
Right. The idea that 'p' works as a dummy here Grice conceived when
pressurised by Richards (in Repy to Richards) to reply to the challenge of
vascous circle. Sic. Quinion has just distributed a malaprop on vascuous circle
and cannot resist.
--- The problem with Tarski also appealed to Grice since you mention:
"But Tarski does not in fact offer this as a viable method of defining the
semantics of a language, it serves in his paper in a description of
certain difficulties which arise in defining the semantics of natural languages
which Tarksi considers so serious that he completely abandons any such
Right. A pity, though. One thing Grice found failed with Tarski is things
"What the policeman said is true".
I have seen policemen, and I think this works. They usually say the truth.
I think it's part of their training or something. They could actually be
discharged if they don't ("Do you know the way to the bank?" -- "Five blocks
to the right, two to the left" -- myself, I usually lie rather than confess
I don't know. Just joking). But Grice considers, words:
Tarski is unable to symbolise
what the policeman said is true.
--- "Suppose what he said is "Monkeys can talk". He goes on in WoW:iii. The
idea is that a disquotational theory of truth alla Tarski, is like
Strawson's in terms of the illocution of 'ditto-ing', unable to cope with
'embedded contexts'. Etc.
On the other hand, our formal devices (conjunction, disjunction,
conditional, etc) ARE truth-functional, so we know about 'true' all we need to know
about it, and no need for a Polish logician, respected as he was, to go the
whole hog and bring Aristotle to justify his Polish considerations alla
Re: the compositionality of
'the cat is on the mat'
'monkeys can talk'
"I'm afraid I don't get this. I feel that I am some way off understanding
this bit of Grice."
I was merely dropping the compositionality thing, since S. R. Bayne had
mentioned it, and you were asking for a clarification. But I suppose that
expecting clarification of Grice deciphered by yours truly is a bit too much. I
was trying to say that in predicate-calculus, it's usually
an individual with feature F. This means that "p" is decomposed into "F"
and "a". And there is a way in which questions of 'meaning' apply to "F" and
"a" -- what is the meaning of "F"? What is the meaning of "a"? Usually, the
latter is deemed nonsense. Proper names have no meaning/sense, only
reference. And Fs are given the sense of their extension. But in any case, it
seems proper to be able to apply 'means' to sub-sentential, sub-propositional
parts. The compositionalists, as I understand them, are wanting to say that
the meaning of 'p' is a composite of the meaning of 'F', 'a', and the
syncategoremata involved. Not for Grice.
Re: 'cause' as efficient cause in much of the positivistic thought:
"This aspect of logical positivism is new to me. I don't think I have read
any of their writings on causation.
One expects positivists to be rather instrumental, so what you say is
surprising to me."
Good point. I would have to read more about them, then. That was the story
I was taught! Recall philosophers, especially when cross-examining, need a
good story even if false. When I had to pass my course of Metaphysics, with
a flying A+, I must say (the official teacher was ill for a whole year, so
I was cross-examined by Mario Presas, Osvaldo Guariglia and Ezequiel de
Olaso) it was all about the refutation of positivism by, of all people,
I had to read that bore of a book. They say that Hume (even if that's were
your heart is) is wrong: 'cause' is not as Hume thought it wasn't. There's
causal powers. Aristotle had seen that but nobody else till Harre and
Madden had realised. I also had to discuss a paper in The British Journal of the
Philosophy of Science on Aristotle and essentialism.
But you are right that the Carnapians were perhaps pretty much
pragmaticists or pragmatists about things that mattered.
The fact that Heisenberg had brought to the fore the idea that observation
is theory-laden, and that what counts is success in experimental, I
wouldn't think they were into 'efficient' causes.
I will have to revise that.
The most important Argentine philosopher of all time -- who lived all his
life in Canada and was born of Scots parents in Buenos Aires, Mario Bunge --
wrote loads about that. He has a 6-volume story of his "Treatise of Basic
So back to theoria-theoria.
Grice was a metaphysician. So here it is where we may reconcile Carnap and
Grice. Grice thought that there was a thing called theoria-theoria or prote
philosophia, first philosophy alla Aristotle. Thus, he would have objected
to your earlier, colloquial idea that the TOE is into the ultimate
'substantia'. Grice would have been particular as to whether we _do_ mean
'substance', hypokheimenon of Aristotle. What if it's a mere wavicle?
Recall that for Eddington -- and Grice discusses this in "Eddington's
Tables" in his Actions and Events -- it's not really 'substantial' table that is
the true table, but a table made up of wavicles. The idea of the ultimate
item of matter fascinates physicists.
Indeed, when I hear physicists speak -- as I often do, on Discovery Channel
-- talk about the big bang, and the multiverses where laws other than
Einstein's or Newton's hold -- I call them philosophers. I call them Thales, if
So, yes. I would think that
1. We don't need to retreat to a pragmatist escapade. Most of our notions,
e.g. analyticity, Grice claims at the end of his day, are "pragmatist" in
nature: to say that they are pragmatist is no excuse to deny them a
truth-value, since a truth-value is after all a type of value. Grice was enamoured
with this constructive idea of 'value' as pervading it all (especially
since he saw metaphysicians have to be REMINDED that value exists, he said).
2. We perhaps need, as philosophers, to, however, keep some respect for
'folk wisdom'. Grice was conservative here, and he would say that, whatever
TOE claims, the ideas of the woman of the street should be given proper
consideration, if only, as it were, _in_ the street.
J. L. Speranza
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