[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 
believe  that).

"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 
 that later.


"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 
raise  objection."
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, 
Romano Harre.

And Madden!
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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