[hist-analytic] Carnap and Grice on 'beyond science'

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Wed Mar 3 11:23:46 EST 2010

On Tuesday 02 Mar 2010 22:55, Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 3/2/2010   rbj at rbjones.com writes:
> "I have the impression that [Carnap] regards  synthetic
>  propositions as always belonging to science,  He does
>  not follow  Aristotle in allowing "demonstrative
>  science" (perhaps he thought this referred  only to
>  metaphysics). There is a fairly naive use of language
>  with very clean  lines, he feels no obligation (as
>  scientists usually do not) to pay homage to  ordinary
>  usage, it would probably not occur to him as an
>  objection to his use of  the term "scientific" that it
>  is not the same as "normal usage",
> Thanks. I was referring (I FOUND IT!) to footnote 1 on
>  this essay  indexed below. The phrase is "convenience
>  for science". The writer says that  this is so for
>  QUINE. But he is unclear that 'science' has to be
>  understood as 'implicated' as it were, by Carnap. The
>  writer's argument: It is NOT clear, or Carnap does not
>  make it explicit, that 'convenience' has to be  ALWAYS
>  'convenience for SCIENCE'. What the author is trying to
>  show is that  the pluralism of Carnap, while not
>  ontological, and not dogmatic, etc., is about  the
>  internal ontologies brought by the choice of this or
>  that language. And that  thus one can, say, introduce a
>  language(*), say, as per below:

This doesn't sound to me like quite the same issue.

It sounds like a discussion of the kinds of pragmatic 
criteria which are involved in acceptance of a "language 
framework" (just guessing).
If so, and it he is correct, then that is good for the 
possibility of Carnap being happy with formal discourse 
about morals.

However, even in that case, and supposing that he allowed P-
rules in that context (P-rules in science capture synthetic 
truths), or rather let us say E-rules (for Ethical), then 
Its moot whether he would count them as synthetic.
I think he would still want to deny "cognitive context" 
subject to possible change of words, and actually synthetic 
might be a better word to use (synthetic content).

So the possibility here which I am contemplating (modulo 
changes in concept names) is that Carnap would admit moral 
reasoning in two possible ways.  First, if one can give 
meaning to moral terms, then one can reason to analytically 
true moral claims by capturing those meanings in A-rules and 
then deducing results from them.
This is all within his very strict conception of philosophy 
as logic, and the only issue is whether these languages are 
pragmatically acceptable (on which I would expect Carnap to 
allow us to make up our own minds).

The second method would allow A-rules capturing the meanings 
of moral terms, and also E-rules capturing moral principles 
over and above those which are analytic.  In this case the 
results are not philosophical or scientific in Carnap's 
conception, and lack cognitive content.  But the meta-
theoretic claim that such and such a principle is provable 
in that context will be analytic and might possibly count as 

I am puzzled by the reluctance to call Carnap an ontological 
pluralist.  If this is because it is thought that this would 
make him a metaphysician, then I think this is mistaken.

A metaphysician should hold that ontological truths 
objective (rather than conventional) and therefore cannot be 
a pluralist.  Either some entity exists or it doesn't 
there's surely no two ways about it for a metaphysician?

I note here, though it really belongs somewhere else where 
Grice is in the picture, that "conventional" as here 
contrasted with "objective" is a very weak term and does not 
carry much of the usual ordinary connotation of 
One thinks of the many case where there are different ways of 
describing the same thing, and notes that this shows that 
some features of the description cannot therefore be known 
to be features of the object described. One seeks to 
distinguish between what is an "objective" feature or 
reality from what is just a feature of the language with 
which we talk about reality.
(I think this is the distinction which Strawson draws when 
he talks of descriptive and revisionary metaphysics, 
possibly; the one just exhumes the language, the other 
purports to reveal the reality)
To talk about something as being "conventional" in this 
sense says nothing about how the language got its structure 
and meaning.  It just says that the thing under 
consideration comes from the language rather than some 
aspect of reality.


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