[hist-analytic] The arbitrariness of convention: revisited

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jan 9 12:55:51 EST 2010

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 2 17:24:51 EST 2010

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"Well, his 'convention' seems to be arbitrary"

I don't see this. How so?




Well, I was referring to the condition, in Lewis´s analysis in terms of 
necessary and sufficient conditions for ¨x is a convention iff" that x 
should be "arbitrary". My knowledge of Lewis is mainly second-hand, but 
I seem to recall this issue discussed somehow at length by Gricean 

Grice would possibly criticise the word "arbitrary" here. In Latin it 
just means, "under one´s control". I suppose Lewis meant something 
different. It is the nature of a convention that there is nothing 
"natural" as it were about it; for the point being, if there were, why 
bother to call it a ´convention´, rather than a mere rational 
development from a natural-based procedure?

Incidentally, my mentor in this matters was my PhD advisor, E. A. 
Rabossi, who defined hisself as a naturalist about rights, and right he 
was too!


J. L. Speranza
   for the Grice Circle.

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