[hist-analytic] Carnap and Grice

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Feb 24 07:45:19 EST 2010

In a message dated 2/23/2010 5:47:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
>We are heading for conflicts here between Grice  and Carnap, 
>which fall outside Carnap's conception of philosophy, and  
>which I would suggest Carnap sidestep.
>The first problem is with  Grice's antipathy to -isms.
>These are not disagreements about matters of  fact, because 
>most of these -isms if you track them down to a  proposition 
>it will be a proposition of metaphysics, and it will  
>probably be in that part of metaphysics which Carnap does 
>opt  out of."
Or in perhaps a more tolerated jargon (!), they would be proposals he'd not 
 be ready to take up! This is serious because it does look like the minimal 
 propositions for each -ism would not be in the object-language. I wouldn't 
say  that "Every event has a mechanical cause" or something (for Mechanism, 
say) is  an object-language proposition. It looks more like a MP (meaning 
postualate)  surely sort-of-analytic and/or necessary.
>The upshot would be that Grice would reject an -ism and 
>Carnap  would fail to assert it, for it would be one of his 
>external  questions.

Yes. But of course he could find some proposals intriguing enough. I'm  
pretty sure he would reject most of the proposals of the TWIN -isms, that  
sometimes Grice fails to identity. Twin ism for Mechanism: Liberalism (qua  
liberum arbitrium free will). Twin ism for Functionalism? Etc. I'm sure Dualism  
(but perhaps not Monism) should feature somewhere. And we would think he 
would  reject Dualism, Carnap would. If the correct twin for Scepticism is 
Dogmatism he  may reject that, too. 
Surely the subtlety here is that we do mean 'internal', object language  
rejection. "It is not the case that every event has a material cause". It's 
not  external-external negation, as when you negate nonsense, coming out as 
true: "It  is not the case that Friday is in bed with Monday", or "It is not 
the case that  the Absolute is Lazy", or to use Ayer's example (in intro to 
second edn. of his  book LTL, "It is not the case that the Nothing nothings". 

>So we might find Carnap denying that he is a physicalist (in  
>Grice's terms) but continuing to use physicalistic language 
>when  it suited him.
>Possibly Grice would object to that practice, and hence  
>would be objecting to Carnap's principle of tolerance.

Well, don't know. He has his Bootstrap. (This in google.books, "Reply To  
Richards") which is pretty convoluted, but fun to understand: the  
object-language and the meta-language have some correspondences, and it would be  
unreasonable to throw too much onto the meta-language if it's not going, "at the 
 end of the day" (I hate that, and it's not used by Grice, but it does 
here,  since we are heading with Carnap and Grice, at the end of the day, for 
the City  of the Eternal Truth) to be expressible in the object-language. This 
way, Grice  writes, irreverently, "you pull up yourself up by your own 
bootraps". Etc. He  grants that he never proved the principle to be _valid_.

>However, the principle of tolerance is not for Carnap a  
>proposition of philosophy, it is normative.
>So if they had a  debate about this it would not be for 
>Carnap a philosophical  debate.
>If I were him I wouldn't.

I see. Metaphilosophical? Armen Marsoobian made his career on that! It's  
all metaphilosophy for him! He commissions papers, joins conferences, etc. 
And  it's a Blackwell thing. It's a mixed bag, metaphilosophy, but it's out 
there --.  Perhaps Carnap could be engaged to a round or two in 
metaphilosophical debate. I  think, with Grice, that analytical metaphilosophy is all we 
need, but that's  another thing. The thing is out there to join in, etc. -- 
The whole point is to  AVOID the normative ring to it (and in this sense, 
metaphilosophy is an  offspring of meta-ethics, but cfr. meta-logic, etc.).

>Something similar happens in relation to the conflict which  
>you describe between Hume and Kant.
>Whether you can derive an  "ought" from an "is" depends on the 
>semantics of moral terms in natural  languages.
>This therefore falls outside of Carnap's conception of  
>philosophy, and he should have no philosophical axe to grind  
>with Kant.
>He might well still disagree with Kant on whether than  can 
>be done, but he could not do so as a philosopher according  
>to his own notion of philosophy,

Well, that's a good one. As we discussed elsewhere, it may boil down to the 
 judgement-cum-stroke sign in authors like Frege. There seems to be an 
element of  ACCEPTANCE in the judgement stroke that SEEMS normative in 
character. Why would  we judge what we judge? Recall that for Kant, in some 
interpretations,  judgements feature large in areas like 'aesthetics': the 
'judgement' of taste,  for example, is objective in his view, and universal. So it's 
not totally beyond  reach. The question of the 'realisation' of this or that 
lexeme of a, say,  deontic operator -- alla Hintikka, Op, Pp, it is 
obligatory that p, it is  permissible that p, as to "ought" or "may" may be yet 
another question. But  there seem to be some recognised inferences in deontic 
logic that one should  tolerate if one is minimally interested in analytic 
ethics, as it were. Or  meta-ethics. The very interpretation of the operators 
is yet another animal. But  the fact that if it's obligatory we can yield 
some other tenets, using two  occurrences of the "not" operator in a sort of 
'deontic' square of opposition,  looks like basic predicate-calculus with just 
a stroke or two attached to the  content formulae. But of course I'm 
speaking vaguely.
>There are a lot of areas where we would find problems of this  
>kind, where Grice's views are considered by Carnap just not 
>to  fall within Carnap's conception of philosophy (and 
>possibly vice-versa)  and so one has to hope from the point 
>of view of their having a  worthwhile conversation we would 
>have to hope that the residue would be  of sufficient interest 
>and that each was prepared to leave alone the  areas which 
>either considered out of scope.

Don't know about Grice, but as JLS I'm more than ready and willing to look  
for the appropriate quotes. Not just to prove the points ad hoc, but, I 
wouldn't  be negativistic. It boils down to find areas of common interest for 
Carnap and  Grice. We shouldn't get to the highest heights at the beginning. 
Usually when  you study philosophy, that's the last two questions in the 
sotto-voce (cross)  examination. First you have to show that you understand and 
that you manipulate  the symbols. I never was asked, for example, in my 
various examinations in  ethics, "And you, JL, do you give a damn?". I would 
have thought the question  appropriate external. This may relate to Oxford 
extra-mural thing where  everything is more or less tolerated!
>It is entirely possible that nothing would remain.
>Analytic  philosophy in the second half of the twentieth 
>century was almost  engineered on the principle that anything 
>is OK (open to discussion) so  long as it gives no quarter to 
>This has been my  experience by and large, that there really 
>is virtually no conversation  which I can have with most 
>philosophers because they cannot accept my  language or my 
>attitude toward language.
>I was hoping that Grice  would be more accommodating, but 
>perhaps not.
Oh, he _will_. The man got ONTO philosophy because he found Ayer _cool_.  
Imagine Grice back in the 1930s in Oxford: Think BORE  BORE   BORE   BORE   
Imagine having to go to the War and be back 5 years after, grey hairs on  
you, almost, about to start a thing. TENSION, nervousness, energy. He felt he 
 felt better with Austin and his ilk than Ayer and HIS ilk (All Souls 
meetings).  But they often would meet or see each other, for tea at Blackwell's 
or something  -- Oxford can be parrochial. 
The one to blame there is possibly RYLE: He gave a bad name to positivism  
and not by being one, precisely. But he belonged to an older generation. 
Recall  Ayer 1911, Grice 1913. Almost twins. 
-- You know dons. You find the long lines of your tutees, you also find  
that you have to go to the meeting of the Aristotelian Society and eventually  
give a talk to the Oxford philosophy Society. You have to look for your 
style:  for a style of prose that allows you to expand on what you think is 
vital. And  Grice did that. You read "Remarks about the senses" early 1966, at 
ease, and he  manages to mingle questions of analytic methodology (this was 
indeed in Butler's  Analytic Philosophy), with concern with langauge, 
various types, with semantic  and pragmatic notions (meaning, entailment, 
implication, implicature), with a  view to the larger issues --. He was never a 
bore, technically concerned with  thinking inside the box. So HE is the man to 
have a conversation, I'm telling  you!
JL Sperana

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