[hist-analytic] Grice and Carnap on Analysis

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Sat Feb 6 18:07:44 EST 2010

On Saturday 06 Feb 2010 00:45, jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:
> 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
> good.
> 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.

I don't object to it.
As I understand it reductive analysis is a way of analysing aspects of 
languages, and this is not something I do systematically (I might be obliged 
to do it ad hoc in the course of a conversation, but natural languages are 
never the subject matter of my philosophy, so I don't do this kind of thing 

I am like Carnap in that my deliberations about language are either about 
language in general (e.g. in discussing concepts like analyticity, though this 
only applies to descriptive language), or else they are about formal 
In the latter case I tend to prescribe a semantics, and though mathematical 
logicians might define a logical system and then do something like analysis to 
determine what are its models., I don't think they call this analysis, and I;m 
confident they wouldn't call it reductive analysis.

> 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.

Well I do want to know why Grice objects to reductionist analysis.
I can see in specific cases that it doesn't work.
I have never been in the least tempted to suppose that material objects can be 
analysed into phenomena.

But on the other hand, fundamental physics seems to be seeking a "TOE" and 
there is no reason in principle why such a TOE might not involve just one kind 
of individual substance.
The claim that a theory is a TOE takes a bit of understanding, and whatever 
the relationship between the TOE and the rest of science there will be a 
temptation to call it some kind of reduction, which by Grice would then count 
as reductionist?

>From my scant knowledge of Grice I would be surprised if he came out against 
the possibility of a single substance TOE (if that were thought to be 
scientifically tenable).
What do you think?

Anyway, the upshot of all  this is that I do not yet see an irreconcilable 
difference between Grice and Carnap on this.
I think as far as a TOE is concerned, Carnap would be interested without 
prejudice in exploring the question how the rest of science would relate to 
such a theory (this must fall squarely in the project of unified science), and 
he would bend and stretch his conception of the relationship until he found 
one which worked.
In a rather different way I would have thought that Grice would have a similar 
attitude.  What he was rejecting was not a scientific reduction, but a radical 
positivistic one, which was scientifically untenable? And Carnap was pragmatic 
rather than dogmatic, he had already abandoned naive phenomenalistic 

> You ask;
> "So Grice analyses propositions in terms of the intention of the
> utterer?"
> And no need to change the "p" into "q".

>    Utterer means that p.
>       (and thus, ulitmately,
>          higher up, "p" means p)
>               reduces to
>                  Utterer intends that p.

I put this in again.

Yes, I completely misconstrued this last time, thinking it was offered as a 
general pattern for the analysis of propositions "p", but it is rather a 
specific analysis of the meaning of "means that",
At least I hope that the intended content of that sentence is that "means 
that" means "intends that", because if it is construed as telling us something 
about the meaning of p (which is how I at first took it) then I would have to 
raise objection.

> Recall Tarski,
>    "snow is white" is true if snow is white.

I do.
But Tarski does not in fact offer this as a viable method of defining the 
semantics of a language, it serves in his paper in a description of certain 
difficulties which arise in defining the semantics of natural languages which 
Tarksi considers so serious that he completely abandons any such enterprise.

> 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'm afraid I don't get this.
I feel that I am some way off understanding this bit of Grice.

<snip (some interesting stuff)>

> When Carnap speaks ´physicalist´, I would think he is more seriously
> into the language of physics.

Yes, I would have thought so.

> 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.

This aspect of logical positivism is new to me.
I don't think I have read any of their writings on causation.
One expects positivists to be rather instrumental, so what you say is 
surprising to me.


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