[hist-analytic] Proving

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Jan 7 18:20:09 EST 2010

In a message dated 1/7/2010 5:28:26 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
danny.frederick at btinternet.com writes:
It is not quite right to say that,  according to Popper, it is only when "p"
has been falsified that we achieve  growth in our objective knowledge of
things. It is the ATTEMPT to falsify  that yields knowledge, whatever the
Thank you. Indeed, a weaker claim. I think I like that. But then, we know  
that 'knowledge' for Popper is hardly a factive. 

Grice never  acknowledged (then why would he? the reference is so obscure!) 
the Kiparskys on  'factive', and I haven't checked the OED2 or OED3 to 
check the earlier uses of  'factive'. I would think it a fact that the Kiparskys 
did not coin  anything.
Grice refers to 'factives' twice in WoW: regarding 'mean' in "Meaning  
    If the black cloud means rains, then rain.
(or words to that effect. More formally -- cfr. "If you can't put it in  
symbols it's not worth saying" -- ascribed to Grice in Strawson's obit in The  
Times -- obit of Strawson, I mean:
    if p means q, q
Of course, his beloved utterer's occasion-meaning is not factive in this  
'sense' and that troubled Grice slightly:
    By uttering, "There's a dark cloud up there", the  utterer means that 
it is about to rain.
-- Makes little sense. We would need to prove that nobody can speak BUT the 
 truth, which in the case of future contingents would be otiose if not  
--- The other occasion where he uses 'factive' is in his earlier,  
"Presupposition and conversational implicature", which he wrote, he says, in  1970, 
and revised in 1987. If the 1970 transcript keeps or already has the ref.  
to 'factive', this is a good place to remember the Kiparsky reference, for it 
 shows the "American formalist Grice" at his best, keeping a track on 
'recent  advances in linguistics and logic" which he presents as the official 
excuse for  leaving Oxford. (Call me ultra-Gricean, but I CAN'T find an excuse 
to leave  Oxford!)
    Kiparsky, Paul, & Carol Kiparsky. "Fact"
        in "Recent Advances in  Linguistics", 1968, 
        ed. Bierwisch and Heidolph.  Mouton
[Kiparskys are into predicate logic of the generative semantic school along 
 with L. Horn, etc. -- crucial for anyone interested in the history of  
linguistics -- American school].
The passage by Grice is as follows, and I would like to Play Popper  (and 
Lakatos and his paradigm research programme) with these examples or other,  
even with Popper 'try to refute'
Grice: "There is in fact, an enormous range of cases
in which the questions about presuppositions arise,
not least in connection with psychological verbs"
--- as "proving" is. Or "deriving" is. Forget momentarily, D. Frederick,  
your good emphasis on 'mechanical' derivations and the old mathematicians' 
use  of 'provable' and 'unprovable' re: Fermat or Goedel).
Grice continues:

"One can distinguish, perhaps, a number
of such cases in connection with 
psychological verbs." ...
"Supposing, however, I take the verb
[cfr. Speranza, proving. JLS]
"and I say,
     (2) Somebody discovered that the 
          roof was  leaking.
--- [cfr. (3) The technician proved
           that there was  something wrong
           with my  television set. JLS]
"Here, it is not LOGICALLY POSSIBLE 
my emphasis. JLS] to discover that one's
roof is leaking unless one's roof is
Grice refers to this as "logical implication"
-- cfr. D. S. M. Wilson, "Implication and Implicature".
Grice goes on:
For some reason, he did not take 'discover' as a factive, as I or the  
Kiparskys would. Instead Grice writes:
"Then there is a[nother] case, which perhaps is exemplified
by the word 'know',"
[but cfr. Popper's idiolect on 'objective knowledge', and yes, cfr
'proving', which acts like 'know' in this, _pace_ D. Frederick, at
least in some idiolects. JLS]
"... in which to say that somebody did know that so-and-so
was the case and to say that he did not know that so-and-so
was the case BOTH imply that it was the case. This is a specimen,
I THINK [emphasis mine. JLS] of the kind of verb that has been
called _factive_ [emphasis Grice's]" (WoW, p. 279)
I disagree in that in my idiolect, "Jack did not know that Jill was  
pregnant because she wasn't. Cf. Harnish:
   Jack: I didn't know you were pregnant.
   Jill: You still don't.
[cfr. Grice on Jack and Jill in "Aspects of Reason"]
Grice continues to consider various other cases. I love him when he says he 
 is going 'idle', alla linguistic botanising, when he considers
   (4) He thought he regretted his father's death,
        but it afterwards turned out  that he didn't.
"As far as (4) makes sense, (4) would, I think, still
imply the committal to his father's death. But I am 
not sure [about this] and perhaps [this should] not matter
very much".

The cheek! Of course it matters. It's what philosophy is made for! And  
made of!
--- So now for 'proving':
for Popper -- I have to rush now, sorry -- Swimming Pool Library calls!  --:
    "Popper proved that p"
    "Poppper disproved that p"
     "Lakatos proved that p"
     "The research paradigm in which Lakatos 
      is immersed disproves that p"
and some such.
In a blog, N. Allott thinks that Grice is referring to "Hamsphire" when he  
writes "Shropshire" (in Aspects of Reason) as providing a 'proof' of the  
immortality of the soul, but I don't think he did mean Hampshire. But anyway, 
to  think that philosophers freely used proof like that is enough to want 
to justify  the Americans when they mistranslated Rowlings' "Harry Potter and 
the  philosopher's stone" into "Harry Potter's and the wizard's stone".
J. L. Speranza
   for the Grice Club

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