[hist-analytic] Grice's Bêtes Noires: the Twelve of Them, and, in str

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu Feb 25 17:31:48 EST 2010

On Wednesday 24 Feb 2010 02:25, J.L. Speranza wrote:

> In a message dated 2/23/2010 5:47:46 P.M. Eastern
>  Standard Time,
> rbj at rbjones.com writes:
> >I think my tone is consistent with his: "After a  more
> > tolerant
> (permissive) middle age, I have come
> >to entertain a strong  opposition to them all..."
> But as we've discussed elsewhere (I'm sure, but now that
>  I think, not publicly!) we sort of agreed that the
>  paradoxical point, which perhaps Grice saw -- I would
>  add he did, for exegetical reasons -- is that he was
>  being less tolerant of intolerance!

Well this is good, but I felt this ground slipping from 
under my feet.
So long as Grice is only being intolerant of intolerance 
then a conversation with the later Carnap has a chance.

Generally on the isms though we have to be clear about 
language.  We have to understand Grice's -isms as what I 
call "dogmatic minimalisms", and as distinct from the 
pluralistic use of the relevant minimalistic language.
I don't think Grice has to accept the fruitfulness of these 
languages, especially not for a reductionist analysis (in 
his terms) for I think Carnap has already conceded that 
point on phenomenalism and would be open to discuss other 
languages on a case by case. (and so might we).

>  Minimalisation, perhaps?!


> So one has to be careful. If we say we minimise ethics,
>  say (e.g. Mackie, The Invention of Right and Wrong), we
>  may be meaning different things. For Grice, I think,
>  Hume minimised ethics. (Indeed he minimised the role of
>  reason  in the practical realm).

Well I'm not convinced, but I don't know enough about Hume.

As far as Carnap is concerned, he was interested in 
scientific applications rather than practical ones.
However. his general methodology for analysis is not specific 
to science (even in the broad sense in which positivists 
construe it), and could equally be applied in other domains.

I like to talk about this in slightly different words than 
Carnap, but I think the end result is consistent with his 
methods.  So I think nomologico-deductive, and the kind of 
logical analysis which a philosopher might do is undertaken 
by constructing a(n abstract) model of the intended 
application and then reasoning deductively about that model.
The model captures the "nomololgy".

Now this can be made to work just as well for ethics as for 
physics. In carnap's terms you define a formal language and 
give rules which are intended to capture the meaning of the 
ethical terms.  Then you can reason about ethics in that 

When the philosophy does this for physics, he is not himself 
making judgements about the theory which he is formalising, 
he is just capturing some theory for the purpose of 
analysis.  Similarly in ethics.  In Carnap's scheme he could 
undertake logical analysis of any ethical system by such 
means, i.e. he can REASON ABOUT ETHICS. even though for him 
the truth of the ethical principles embodied in the language 
would be external questions.

I appreciate this is not the emotive theory of ethics for 
which the logical positivists are famous.  But that was not 
for Carnap a philosophical theory, and it was not something
so far as I am aware that he ever did any work on.
I think if he had been interested in logical reasoning about 
ethics then the approach I suggested above would be 
compatible with all that I know of his later philosophy.

> >But I want [Grice] *not* [emphasis mine. JLS] to have 
> > appreciated the
> distinction,
> >because if he has appreciated it and has  not qualified
> > his antipathy then I would have to conclude that he is 
> > opposed to the -isms even if they are pluralistic
> > and/or pragmatic rather than dogmatic. ...
> >If that were the case then the  prospects for concord
> > would be much diminished, and even those for 
> > profitable conversation might be at risk.
> Excellent points. Yes, we'll have more to say about your
>  qualification for the isms. It seems good to have them
>  bi-forked, as it were, in pluralistic-pragmatic vs.
>  dogmatic.

Yes.  Possible a less pejorative term might be better.
I thought "absolute", this would also work for a similar 
(and related) distinction between kinds of metaphysics.
In terms of metaphysics that might possibly be the same as 
"revisionary" (in which case that's probably not a well 
chosen word).

So for the metaphysics, Carnap's position would be better 
understood as abdication from "absolute" metaphysics, but 
pragmatism in relation to exegetical, and descriptive 

> >I don't say that [Carnap] makes that distinction
> > [minimalism as  either
> > dogmatic or pluralistic/pragmatic].
> >It looks to me like he thinks of them all pragmatically.

But I do think that when he talks anti-metaphysics it is 
(what I'm now calling) absolute metaphysics.

> R. B. Jones:
> >I don't think it's difficult to find a lateral unity in
> >philosophy without having to exorcise these demons.
> >The lateral  unity is surely in analytic method, and
> > this is consistent with  pragmatic minimalisms.
> Good. I'm glad you see METHOD as a latitudinal unity.
>  Grice was, and self-advertised as being, _au fonde_, if
>  that's the expression, 'deep down' but it sounds vulgar
>  (or too blatanty metaphorical) in English -- a
>  methodologist,  so I like that.

I was thinking only recently what a high proportion 
(relatively) of his writing is metaphilosophical.

I think there is probably an interesting discussion to be 
had on extensionalism.  Starting with "what is it?" in 
Grice's mind (or his words).


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