[hist-analytic] Carnap And Grice Outside The Box
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Mar 4 02:01:07 EST 2010
Carnap and Grice on 'arbitrary,' 'conventional', and 'synthetic'
In a message dated 3/3/2010 12:12:04 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
"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)"
--- Sorry for naivete. "P" standing for ... physics?
"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 think I prefer your first suggestion. One qualm here would be with views
like Blackburn, so-called "anti-realism" -- perhaps a good bete noire, if
ever there was one, or 'quasi-realism'. I.e. the idea that moral claims are
not true, but not because they fail to be true, but rather because it's a
satisfactoriness (in Tarski's sense) other than 'alethic', or 'assertoric',
or 'theoretical' or 'factual' which is at play?
Roger Bishop Jones continues:
"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 "convention". One thinks of the many case where
there are different ways of describing the same thing, and notes that this
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
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."
I see. Good points. I see Carnap calls, incidentally, Strawson (and maybe
Grice, since he was usually pigeonholed as one too) a "linguistic
naturalist" or "naturalist" for short. So the idea of 'conventionality' as you attach
it to 'language' per se is pretty central. For where would WE be without a
language or lingo as I prefer?
So I will consider those points. There must be perhaps a better term.
"Arbitrary" maybe. I'm thinking of passages by Grice, -- his ref. to
"Deutero-Esperanto" in WoW:Meaning-Revisited, where he wants to be totally
disassociated with the idea of language being conventional. As a Griceian the least I
can do is follow his usage or recommendation as to use! But I see what you
mean. It's not like Grice is thinking of a characteristica universalis as
you yourself have done in your rich X-logic projects!
But will keep thinking about these things. Thanks for input.
J. L. Speranza
More information about the hist-analytic