[hist-analytic] Carnap and Grice on the pragmatics of belief and assertion

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Mar 2 18:32:15 EST 2010

In a message dated 3/2/2010 6:35:19 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
"Well, I would like to know where [Carnap works on  the pragmatics of 
belief and assertion]. He says some very radical things early  on which I can't 
imagine him holding to if we were to corner him later. In  that he is making 
it a branch of science, which is fair  enough, insofar as  it does offer a 
way to make sense of it.
However, it doesn't make the right  kind of sense of it, and one has a 
better chance of getting a good analysis by  treating it as a part of logic 
rather than science (in Carnap's terms), this is  also more consistent his 
saying (as he does) that moral statements are like  metaphysical ones, 
"cognitively" meaningless (another bad choice of  word)."
Good. Perhaps we should stick to a few 'generalisations'. The  
internalisation of 'if' or MPP (modus ponendo ponens) may indeed be a trick  (Loar wrote 
extensively on those).
(BEL (A, p) & BEL(A, p --> q)) --> BEL (A, q)
or consider "&", my pet:
BEL(A, p & q) --> BEL(A, p)
Toby likes nuts (Grice's example -- he is a squarrel, sic)
Toby does NOT like  nuts covered with poison.
So that above is one type of thing. It's strictly THEORETICAL because the  
observational bits we are assuming or implicating.
A different thing is when we get an input (perception) or an output  
(sensory output). In this case we just define 'assertion' in terms of  belief:
ASSERT (A, p) <--- BEL (A, p)
Hence Moore's Maradox
  "I assert that it is raining, but I don't believe it".
Carnap does say that 'assertion' is the pragmatic notion par excellence and 
 he is citing Morris, etc. on the trichotomy of semiotics (syntactics, 
semantics,  pragmatics).
Grice WoW:iii notably (first two pages) is very critical of Moore paradox  
and he'd say that an assertion EXPRESSES belief. He sees this as almost a  
'necessary' truth as it concerns the 'indicative mode'. But major issues 
emerge  here, all fun, I'm sure.
J. L. Speranza

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