[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
> >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.
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
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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