[hist-analytic] Normativity of 'fair' and 'just': Re: Not Cricket

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Jan 19 08:00:15 EST 2010

In a message dated 1/19/2010 7:30:54  A.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
Russell, to take a  prominent example, you cannot get away
with 'better than' ('x is better than  y' does NOT entail 'x is good')


Oh my God. That was an excellent post. Provided me a lot of pleasure just  
reading. Never mind analysing. So a brief feedback of encouragement.
I once called something Speranza participial. Since I do not want to  
distract your thread, I'll send perhaps something along those lines separately  
(if you don't mind).
But according to Speranza Participial, as I use it. Let me expand
    x means y
There are TOO MANY specifications for this.

One is 'timeless meaning'. Which seems to be what you, Steve, are up  to.

Even with timeless meaning we should distinguish. Of the whole  utterance, 
or or part of the utterance
"fair" seems to be a case in point. Especially when you relate it to  
"good". Recall that Grice, WoW, i, is criticising Hare's idea that
          x is good
means "I commend x" -- no way!
(WoW is Studies in the Way of Words, available as googlebooks, etc.).
But there's also, of course, utterer's meaning, which is usually,  
'utterer's occasion-meaning', I think Grice calls it (section on specifications  of 
So back to 'fair'.
and the Speranza participial.
Briefly, the Speranza participial (named after one J. L. Speranza, and I  
used it elsewhere, etc. -- so I rather not change the label right now!) is
x means y
Etymologically, x means y.
I take that for each specification of meaning, notably Expression-Meaning,  
versus Utterer's occasion-meaning, the Speranza participial holds.
Now children.
They'll say, "I goed to the park" -- I am told. I never HEARD one child say 
 that, but a lot of psycholinguists saying (nay quoting) it as an example 
of what  we heard lots of children say.
Now, consider your
counterexample to Russell
    x is good
    x is better than y
If we take a Blackburnian attitude constructivism re: 'good' -- i..e. as a  
projection of attitude. Recall, "Eating people is wrong" and "The Reluctant 
 Cannibal" I have written of elsewhere. We get
        x is good --- utterer's  occasion-meaning, "I commend x"
               for Grice's manoeuvre is certainly to SAVE Hart at the level 
of the  'implicature'.
But 'better'? I never _understood_ 'better'. True, I'm a native!
It seems that philosophers should use
---- post written in a hurried style up from now for reasons to disclose  
some day --.
For what evidence do we have that 'bet-ter' relates to 'good'? I know,  
convention, etc. But etymologically? (I'm having in mind your  counterexample 
to Russell:
    x is good ----- implicature: I commend x
    x is better than y   -- implicature?
A further point has to do with the 'predicate' analysis. It would be  
slighly otiose to render 'good' as a predicate. But perhaps not. 
I recall I used that example, "x is good" when I was teaching philosophy to 
 rather young folk. They would, when they are still not corrupted by  
philosophers, think that it does express a fact! The logical form perhaps is  
something along the lines of
   x!    i.e. I commend x.
In which case 
        B(x, y)
is only the surface grammar of 
       x is better than y
Rather it should be also be symbolised with "!". And to say this is not to  
endorse a subjectivism, or emotivism. Rather it is to reconsider Grice's  
For expression-meaning is ALWAYS rooted, by convention, or what have you,  
into utterer's occasion-meaning. Since his early "Meaning" (1948) he would 
have,  "What words mean depends on what we mean by them", or "to put it 
roughly, what a  word means is, roughlly, what, we, people [I recollect this 
'people' which Grice  has as 'people (vague)' distinctly] mean by them.
In any case then, some thoughts.
When I was studying, for another dry course, for a silly programme I was  
undertaking, I had to attend a naive class by one J. S., on the "history of 
the  romance languages"! I knew all he had to say but the point, a good one, 
and he  has a book coming out on that, where I hope he'll credit me or where 
he SHOULD  credit me.
     LATIN         French
---- We should also include Catalonian, Portuguese, Provencal, etc.
But the point, apparently, is that in Latin, 'good, better, worse' are  
ALWAYS 'unrooted' in the Speranza participial sense of the word.

So, perhaps we should check if in SOME language, "good, better, and  
worse', or 'good, better, best', 'bad, worse, worst" ARE cognate.
"better" and "best" are cognate, as are "worse" and "worst". But the point  
here is rather with 'good' and 'bet-' and 'bad' and 'worse'. For shouldn't 
it be  'ill', rather than 'bad'. Bad sounds too Michael Jacksony to me:
          I'm bad, I'm bad,  I'm bad.
implicating, "I'm god" -- for bad is good, etc.
A further point is the -er form.
I'm not sure about this, but it seems that the Latin 'synthetic' versus  
analytic (of the English), -er, form is better form?
It always irritate a native that it's all about rhyme, or rythm, never  
We say, 'more intelligent', because 'intelligent' is long. But we do say  
'wittier', because witty is short (Indeed, Brevity is the soul of 'wit'). 
So Anglos ARE able to deal with the logic of 'more'.
For we have, as you say:
   comparative -- 'more F'
    superlative -- THE most F.
(There is some literature on the pragmatics of comparatives, by, if I  
recall alright, J. D. Atlas, once of Wolfson, Oxford).
So perhaps the key is also in the 'more' and not just in the 'very', which  
as you say, though, cuts the thing in two.
One final point re 'cricket' which you have kept in the header.
"It's no cricket" implicating, "That's UNfair".
Seems an absolutive.
I.e. it would be odd to say
"He plays more cricket than I".
meaning, "What he plays is more cricket than what I play".
cricket is cricket is cricket.
If you change ONE rule, it's not cricket anymore, and thus not fun  anymore.
So, 'cricket' SEEMS an absolute. But all the things moral philosophers say  
are usually NOT!
J. L. Speranza
    for the Grice Club
"Professional philosopher and amateur cricketer", obit of Grice in The  
Times, by anon.

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