[hist-analytic] Tarski, Carnap and Grice on "snow is white"

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Mar 4 01:46:33 EST 2010

In a message dated 3/3/2010 12:12:04 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
"I don't myself think this a proper use of the terms  contingently and 
analytically.  You are using them as 
qualifiers for  actions or events, but they are properties of propositions 
or sentences in  context.
Also you are mixing your qualifiers here, unless you are conceding  the 
coincidence of analyticity andnecessity(which I would encourage!).Maybe  that's 
not what you were doing.You want it to be contingently true that snow  
means what it does, and your wish is granted, it is!But it doesn't make any  
difference to the status of truths in the "object language", it only makes a  
difference to meta-theoretic claims.Thus, "snow is white" will be analytic, 
but  that would normally be contingent.  It depends how you say it, how you  
identify the language.  If you say: "In the English language 'snow  is 
white' is analytic"Then to discover whether this is analytic or synthetic you  
have to dig into the meaning of "English language", but I 
think it is likely  to be synthetic.  (assuming "English language" means 
something like "the  language predominantly spoke in England".If it is a 
"meaning postulate" (a term  I deprecate, since to 
call it a postulate suggests something more  speculative than one expects 
in a prescription of meaning, and to use "meaning  postulate" as the name of 
a definition invites improper definition and  encourages this wayward idea 
that analyticity is an attribute which we can  arbitrarily assign to whatever 
propositions we would like to be necessary) then  It will be analytic and 
necessary.  It makes no definition how we know that  it is a "meaning 
postulate" or how it came to be one, these are meta-theoretic,  and it is the truth 
and status of the sentences/propositions of the object  language which 
concerns us.  It's a purely verbal adjustment.
The issues  you are raising are not real problems in Carnap's position they 
just need  explaining.  Which possibly I might have done?"
SURE! And magisterially! I'm keeping your wording above for further  
reference. For now on, I would comment on the somewhat irritating literature I  
have had to read on the topic!
You see, Griceians (I'm following my friend Jason Kennedy and using, like  
Dennett did, and Fodor, "Griceian" as the adjective, cfr. Argentinian) have 
to  be careful.
Perhaps the first here was Loar, in his DPhil Oxon (under Warnock),  
"Sentence Meaning". They are at odds in defining what "snow is white" _means_.  
The Gricean complications are galore. But on the whole there is this consensus 
 -- among all Griceians except Grice -- but then he is no Griceian, 
necessarily  -- that we do need a reference to a
so your ref. to "language spoken by people in England" is just on spot. M.  
K. Davies has also considered this. So this will relate to Carnap's idea 
that at  the meta-language level it is ALL synthetic and contigent. Never mind 
the  object-language. 
A related item here may have to do with Putnam's somewhat irritating idea  
of the division of linguistic labour. I have not checked your reply to the  
'science' post, but I will after I send this. The idea that maybe 
"snow is NOT white"
from a scientific point of view. Is it? I don't think so. It's not I've  
heard any scientist _say_. White is not a colour, is it? Is it not, rather, a  
'value'. What purpose would a silly sentence like the one Tarski used (and  
Carnap heard form Tarski's lips) have? None!
H20 may be the write thing to say when we say 'snow' -- frozen water, that  
is. Water itself is NOT white. So how can frozen water (ice, snow) be?  Odd!
----- In any case, what I'm getting at is that some cautious speakers of  
English may subscribe to _Nature_ or _Science_, and if the next thing they 
read  tomorrow is that 'snow is purple, really' they may be changing a segment 
of  English, since they would be dropping a meaning-thing (what word to use 
instead  of postulate) and acquiring another. Odd!
It's good nobody (almost) could beat Carnap and Grice with _analysis_!  
Otherwise, this would be the end of analytic philosophy, almost!
--- I am reminded of Sellars/Yeatman, 1066 and all that. The final sentence 
 goes: "And this is the end of our little history. For then, America became 
top  notion which means that the history of our country reached a ..
-- where '.' means a final point, or something.

J. L. Speranza

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