[hist-analytic] Grice's Bêtes Noires: the Twelve of Them, and, in str

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Feb 23 21:25:57 EST 2010



In a message dated 2/23/2010 5:47:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
>I think my tone is consistent with his: "After a  more tolerant 
(permissive) middle age, I have come 
>to entertain a strong  opposition to them all..."

But as we've discussed elsewhere (I'm sure, but now that I think, not  
publicly!) we sort of agreed that the paradoxical point, which perhaps Grice saw 
 -- I would add he did, for exegetical reasons -- is that he was being less 
 tolerant of intolerance! (But seeing that Carnap built HIS philosophy 
around the  Prinzip der Toleranz, I'm hoping Grice is not meaning Carnap 
(necessarily) -- we  have to keep some polemic, though!
 
 
>I don't understand the point you are making here 
>about my use of the word "minimisation".  In this context 
>I intend  only to mean by it the adoption of some 
>minimalism.

Aha. It's only that it does not scare me enough! Minimalisation, perhaps?!  
:). In a way, there is a semantic overlap here with the monsters of 
Reductionism  and Eliminationism (that he doesn't care to list). For 
 
  to reduce (as per reductionism)
   is of course to minimise
 and so is, in a way, to eliminate.
 
So one has to be careful. If we say we minimise ethics, say (e.g. Mackie,  
The Invention of Right and Wrong), we may be meaning different things. For  
Grice, I think, Hume minimised ethics. (Indeed he minimised the role of 
reason  in the practical realm). But I wouldn't call Hume a minimal ethicist. He 
does  provide a minimisation alright, or minimalismisation, if ou want. 
Will think.  But in any case I accept your use of the thing as an instance of 
Minimalisation  at work. 
 
In the best guises the minimalisation has to work as eliminationism. For he 
 (Grice) is saying that Minimalism DE-LEGITIMISES a range of explanations. 
It's  not like they are minimised. If they are, they are minimised to the 
maximum  minimum. In this connection, I would like to consider the idea of 
"zero  tolerance" which I've seen in various places. How tolerant is a 
zero-tolerant,  who has minimised everything to ... zero? (I'm not saying Carnap had 
 zero-tolerance, and I would have to argue that Grice didn't!)(Just joking. 
I  don't think he was zero-tolerant. The bracket (Baker notes, ft in Gr91) 
that  Grice used a lot of these, and one wonders about the 'permissive 
(tolerant)',  'tolerant (permissive)', too; but we are talking of minimalisation 
now, not of  intolerance necessarily.
 
>But I want [Grice] *not* [emphasis mine. JLS] to have  appreciated the 
distinction, 
>because if he has appreciated it and has  not qualified his 
>antipathy then I would have to conclude that he is  opposed 
>to the -isms even if they are pluralistic and/or pragmatic  
>rather than dogmatic. ...
>If that were the case then the  prospects for concord would 
>be much diminished, and even those for  profitable 
>conversation might be at risk.

Excellent points. Yes, we'll have more to say about your qualification for  
the isms. It seems good to have them bi-forked, as it were, in  
pluralistic-pragmatic vs. dogmatic.
 
The pluralismus is a good thing. It's indeed an ismus in some secondary  
biblio on Carnap I saw: Toleranz und pluralismus in the work of Carnap. The 
one  goes with the other in Carnap, but not, it would seem, with Grice. We'll 
have to  elaborate on 'dogmatisms' too seeing that good ol' Grice came to 
the defence of  the 'underdogma' unpopularised by this Manx-surnamed 
philosopher. (I don't mean  Quinton).
 
>I don't say that [Carnap] makes that distinction [minimalism as  either 
dogmatic or pluralistic/pragmatic]. 
>It looks to me like he thinks of them all pragmatically.

Good point. Perhaps Carnap did not dwell extensively (and I bless him for  
that) on his antipathies! The less tolerant (permissive) Grice of the 1980s, 
and  when provoked, only, :), could! Perhaps it was not good for his 
system. The man  was oversensitive, and to think that he had Schiffer's Remnants 
of Meaning while  he was in hospital makes you want to have brought him some 
Wodehouse or  something (Nurses should be aware of this).
 
I made a caricature of an unentire Mr. Puddle (referred to by Grice):
 
    "Oh, I'm a materialist in  _metaphysics_,
when since on Thursdays  I'm also
teaching the Ethics seminar (he  is
on sabbatical, Harry) I am  a
non-naturalist to appease  the
Moorean among by  pre-pubescent
students".

neo-Carnap (you can call me neo-Grice anyday!) writes:

>I don't think Carnap or I would talk quite that way.
>It's  not we put on different hats, it's just that we use 
>languages, methods  and tools which are appropriate to the 
>problem at hand.

Mmm. Good point, and a good Aristotelian pedigree to it (seeing that R. B.  
Jones rightly notes that most of neo-analytic philosophy is Aristotelian in 
 nature). I recall my tutor O. N. Guariglia rejoicing in dogmatising us 
about  that passage in Eth. Nich.: "This is NOT logic: don't expect me to be as 
rigid  as I was when I wrote the Analytica Priora. This is _softer_ stuff". 
Etc. 
 
neo-Carnap:
 
>Your Grice sounds worse than Carnap on the "unified language"  
>front, admittedly only in philosophy, but perhaps more  
>dogmatic.

Yes, it IS paradoxical. I'll  have to revise what he said AGAINST  unified 
"lingo" (as I call it, when I have a headache as I have now! Sorry about  
that!) in WoW:ii. Perhaps the unifying 'unity' as it were was more of an  
exegetical thing. I do find or feel the sense of continuity, both in the  
longitude and the latitude of ... not philosophy, but Grice! There are changes  in 
longitude (the early Grice, the middle Grice, the later Grice) but minimal  
(he maintained his spatio-temporal continuity, on the whole). The changes 
in  latitude I may be more unable to detect because I _can_ be pretty 
unified, when  not having a headache!
 
R. B. Jones:

>I don't think it's difficult to find a lateral unity in  
>philosophy without having to exorcise these demons.
>The lateral  unity is surely in analytic method, and this is 
>consistent with  pragmatic minimalisms.

Good. I'm glad you see METHOD as a latitudinal unity. Grice was, and  
self-advertised as being, _au fonde_, if that's the expression, 'deep down' but  
it sounds vulgar (or too blatanty metaphorical) in English -- a 
methodologist,  so I like that. Here, incidentally, there IS a breach which is pretty 
apparent,  and recognised by him. He says in RE:WoW that meaning is a matter 
of ANALYSIS,  not THEORY. We follow him there. He is criticising Mrs. Jack 
(but I hope his  point is more general). So if this is strictly interpreted, 
his loose uses of  'theory' etc. in things he wrote, have to be taken with 
that caveat in mind. On  the other hand, his "Method in philosophical 
psychology" is NOT analysis; in  that, at least, as I read it, I see Theory, and 
theory, and more theory. Notably  the introduction of psychological attitudes 
as such, via Ramsification: not  observational, but theoretical. So it seems 
that we may want to qualify  'analysis' or allow that there are 
sub-varieties of analysis for different  'sides' (for each latum) of the latitudinal 
unity of philosophy. This looks like  a fascinating topic, thanks R. B. Jones 
for pointing it to me.
 
Or take Grice's caveats about FL vs. NL. "You are too formal", Putnam told  
me, and it impressed him. But he adds, "But then," (or words), "I was 
turning my  interests to areas where formalism is less relevant: ethics, 
notably". So your  points are well taken.
 
On the 'legality' of Mimimalism an whether Grice is right in wanting to  
call the Philosophical Trade Commission:

>But not unless it's dogmatic minimalism.
>And Grice's cure is  itself a dogmatism.
 
The dogmatism of the laissez-faire (Feyerabend's anything-goism) indeed! We 
 don't want that! So neo-Grice will have his say as he looks back on his 
beloved  mentor.
 
R. B. Jones:

>Mathematicians work in set theory because it suits them  
>best.
>Should they be castigated for doing so?
>They won't  care if Grice does castigate them.

Well, depends on the meaning or implicature of 'castigate'. Just joking! I  
think he is thinking that if a set-theoretical philosopher writes for the  
referred Gricean Studies Journal (NO! I'm NOT contributing!) he (the  
set-theoretical philosopher) may have to reply to Grice's queries such as:
 
    Why is the answer to "Why is that blue?" and "Why is  Grice called 
Grice?"
    comparable? (his examples against Extensionalism),  etc.
 
Getting to grips with Hume (where the  heart is):
 
>So you want ethics to be a branch of logic?

Yes! More Geometrico Demonstrata, as Spinoza dreamt about! But seriously,  
don't mention them: the logicians! (Just joking). Oxford has at long last 
got  ridden of them (jocularly speaking) when instituting the "Chair of 
Mathematical  Logic" which no longer depends on Merton-based Sub-Faculty of 
Philosophy! This  is interesting because where I come from, "Mathematical Logic" 
is indeed a  subject-matter in the Dept of Mathematics in the Faculty of 
Exact Sciences. So  they won't hear about "ethics" on principle!
 
---
R. B. Jones on Kant's Critique of Practical Reason:
 
>Well, I'm not familiar with the story.
>The odds are that we are  talking to cross purposes, just as 
>in the case of Kripke's refutation of  Carnap.

I'll have to learn more about THAT! But Grice is pretty precise (and short, 
 as it happens) on the logical foundations of morality. I wrote a precise 
precis  of it elsewhere, and I may repost some of the more formal material 
here. The  basic questions are pretty easy to swallow: that hypothetical 
imperatives follow  a logic of probabilism and desirability and that to 
universalise them requires a  'one fell swoop', as it were.
 
R. B. Jones:
 
>But we will be stretched a bit thin if we take on ethics 
>right  now!

But we HAVE to keep the aspidistra and lateral unity flying! (I love that  
film with Helena Bonham Carter!)

Re: ethics and reason:

>I don't think there is any denial of that in Hume, or in  
>Carnap.

Will revise. Will revise what I did say, too. The topic is the very  
validity of an inference for operators other than assertoric, or something. And  
of course the distinction between mere utilitarian ethics and the properly  
Kantian rationalistic variety that Grice endorsed. Unfortunately most of the  
work by Grice in this area is joint (c) J. Baker and she is taking her time 
to  let the ideas out! (But I love her, and she has every right to do it!)
 

>[I]t looks like the demons will be fodder for debate for  
>some time.

Good. And I'll reply to your other when my headache  subsides I hope!
Take care.
 
J. L. Speranza



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