[hist-analytic] Grice and Carnap on Analysis

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Feb 5 19:45:03 EST 2010

Thanks for the message. Indeed I re-read your post of Feb. 4, and I see 
you are using "reductive analysis" as applying to Grice, which is very 

You wrote: "In our present conversation we need also to consider 
whether this kind of reductive analysis is something which Carnap 
accepted/did/found interesting. This seems to me uncertain."

And add in your later post, under this header

"(T)he term "reductive analysis" is not one I use myself."

Should´t you?! It´s pretty inocuous. I use it. Grice used it. As long 
as we don´t go the whole hog and use "reductionist" analysis too. I DO 
use reductionist analysis but on very RARE occasions -- when people say 
"moral" is a primitive irreducible to people´s volitions, say.

-----Recall the charming scenario when Grice felt he needed the 
distinction in this two types of analysis: when criticising or 
responding to Mrs. Julie M. Jack, in Oxford, WoW:RE.

You ask;

"So Grice analyses propositions in terms of the intention of the 

And no need to change the "p" into "q".

Recall Tarski,

   "snow is white" is true if snow is white.

Grice would say that the same "p" occurs in the analysans and 
analysandum. They are not propositions, because we are not giving 
sufficient or necessary conditions for "p", only for larger expressions 
where their linguistic counteparts, notably in the sense of 
"that"-clauses -- alla Ausin -- occur. Grice calls  this a dummy 
instance of a propositional complex, not a proposition. It is 
decomposible, if we say, "By uttering, "snow is white" he meant that 
the snow he had perceived in Oklahoma was white,  and by white he meant 
muddy white. There are elements within "p" that we can make sense of. 
"snow is white" is a COMPOSITE thing.


"I'd like to focus this Carnap/Grice thing onto the issue of analysis, 
and whether there are irreconcilable differences between their 
conceptions of analysis. The 21st century bit is so that we can ignore 
early discarded positions. e.g.  aspects of the Aufbau project which 
did not survive, also of course, Carnap's
syntactic phase, and even extrapolate their philosophical development 
to consider whether there were _irreconcilable_ differences. In my last 
incomplete message I started talking about Grice's interest in
causal theories of perception, which might be seen as a conciliatory 
bridge building exercise.  A causal theory of perception is an 
alternative to a phenomenalistic reductionism of the kind which Grice 
(and a way of reading the idea, rejected by Austin, that all perception 
is mediated). Though Carnap accepted the failure of the Aufbau project, 
he remained interested in the epistemological project of relating in 
some way
physicalistic or theoretical languages with phenomenalistic languages. 
But this was already arguably not reductionist in the sense deprecated 
by Grice. Why not? Well Grice talks about a _semantic_ reduction to a 
single kind of entity, and I think it reasonable to suppose (unless you 
can tell me otherwise) that what
he had in mind was that the entities reduced are defined in terms of 
the entities reduced to."

Yes, reductive analysis is of the necessary and sufficient conditions. 
It aims at biconditionals of the form

       =df     which is really biconditional only, rather than identity. 
It becomes identity when you elevate the thing to a higher-order 

There´s nothing so mysterious about this. In Grice WoW:v, it merely 
means finding whether the prong analysis is either too strong or too 
weak. It shouldn´t be either.


"But Carnap abandoned the idea that the relationship between physical 
objects and phenomema could be of that kind. Which I believe means that 
he accepted that physicalistic language could not be reduced 
_semantically_ to phenomenalistic language.  He was looking for some 
other relationship between the two.
So what Carnap was looking for was not the kind of thing which Grice 
rejected. Furthermore, I think there is every reason to believe that a 
causal theory of perception in which the relationship involved is 
causal, would be acceptable to Carnap.  This is consistent with a 
moderate empiricism. The question remains whether he would be satisfied 
with that alone, or whether he would still be looking for some stronger 
Personally I don't see why he should. And I don't think there is 
anything stronger to be had. So, do you believe that story, and if so, 
how far does this go towards  reconciling the ideas of analysis of the 
two philosophers?

Sure. Grice was cautious as to the difference between

   "analysis"  -- usually vacuous he knew they WERE
            alla "eyedoctor" is an oculist.
             His claim to fame, his 24 clause-long analysis of "u means 
that p" would STILL be vacuous uninformative in this sense.

On the other hand, he distrusted, but sometimes abided by


-- Since he does use "theory" in "causal THEORY of perception", it´s 
not fair to go the whole hog and say he was into ANALYSING 
phenomenalistic language in terms of, as I prefer, noumenalist language.

Rather than physicalist language, Grice speaks, alla Berlin (his very 
Eearly "Concepts and Categoires"), of

    material-object language

the language of cats, pillar boxes, pilla boxes being red, etc.

Similarly, the phenomenalist language perhaps he woud call "sense-datum 
language". The idea made popuar by Weismann, who knew Carnap, and had 
settled in Bristol.

--- The Causal Theory of Perception, by Grice, then is more like an 
excercise in ANALYSIS, which uses "theory" as a red-herring.

He is concerned with "verbs" in the report of sense-datum language:

   It seems to me that that pillar box over there is red.
   It _SEEMS_ to you? You never saw a pillar box in this
      area which is NOT red, and you have the cheek to
      DOUBT that?

But he was trying to refute Wittgenstein, who, while self-appointing 
hisself (sic) The Patron of Ordinary Language, would say,

    The red pillar box doesn´t seem red: it IS red..

This is NOT a metalinguistic negation:

   It´s not warm in Bordighera: it´s hot.

   Joan Rivers isn´t 70 years old: she´s 75.

The way to explain this is by considering that a sense-datum statement 
is a WEAKER item compared to a material-object statement. But that the 
postulate, or maxim,

        don´t be weak unless you have to

IS ´flouted´when for a philosophical concern, you are bound to say 
something that may be the odd thing to say in context, but not if you 
are a philosopher.

When Carnap speaks ´physicalist´, I would think he is more seriously 
into the language of physics. Heisenberg had demolished some tenets 
regarding the possibility of theory-free observation. To observe a 
physical object,. as physicists do, is a theory-laden experiment.

The "causal" bit has also to be considered seriously. It seems that 
Grice took Hume (where the heart is) more serioulsy than Carnap. Grice 
(WoW) considers the animism that Hume feared in the idea of ¨cause¨ not 
just as involing a "necessary link" which sounded like a metaphysical 
excrescence, but also as involving an animist, or anthropomorphist view 
of things. Aitia, in Greek, which translates cause was a legal term in 
Greek originally, as in "a rebel without a cause". Or "my cause to 
fight for the Falklands is to liberate the sheep dwn there", or 
something. It´s the final cause. The efficient cause, which only 
interested the logical positivists needs a special argumentation in its 
favour and a better defense after demlitions by Hume and notably Mill 
in System of Logic -- his weaker methods of correspondences do not 
necessarily play with the full-blown idea of cause.

Anyway, must rush. But lovely to consider these issues.


JL Speranza

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