[hist-analytic] Carnap And Grice Outside The Box

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu Mar 4 09:30:16 EST 2010

On Thursday 04 Mar 2010 07:01, Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:

> --- Sorry for naivete. "P" standing for ... physics?


> I think I prefer your first suggestion.

Which method applies depends on your view about the meanings 
of moral terms,
If you are prepared to defy Carnap, Moore and Hume then you 
can commit the naturalistic fallacy and define your moral 
language entirely using A-rules.
(however, I should not have implicated that the moral truths 
would then all turn out to be analytic, for most of them 
would be synthetic)
This would be the right method for utilitarians.
Carnap would disagree with your opinions about the meaning 
of moral language, but not qua philosopher, since these fall 
outside his narrow conception of the scope of philosophy.

A moral realist who agrees with Hume and Moore would have to 
adopt the second method.
Carnap would presumably be pleased that you agreed with him 
on the lack of "cognitive" content (which you would do if 
that term were understood correctly in this context, 
"empirical" would be better).
As a moral realist the moral terms might possibly be 
understood in terms of some platonic realm of ideal 
entities, but so long as you follow the method I think he 
would be bound to accept that "internal" questions involving 
this realm were meaningful, and save his reservations for 
pragmatic discussion of the merits of the language thus 
defined (which would again be extra-philosophical for 

> 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?

I don't  know enough about this to have an opinion about 
whether they fall under my second case.

> So I will consider those points. There must be perhaps a
>  better term. "Arbitrary" maybe.

The trouble with "arbitrary" is that is sometimes only means 
that a choice in involved, but sometimes suggests that the 
choice involved is not a considered choice made for good 
cause but rather more like the tossing of a coin, or not 
subject to any kind of influence or rationale.
Conventional does not carry this anarchic connotation, and 
is therefore better in that respect.
However, Grice wants it to have its own connotations which I 
don't want (in this context).
Can't we persuade Grice that "conventional" has these 
connotations only most of the time?

>  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.

But I want to talk of something being conventional just to 
say that it is rooted in language, without wanting to say 
anything about how the language gets its structure and  

Both Carnap and I want to distinguish some core of genuine 
metaphysics (which he wants to jettison, but not I) from 
things like descriptive metaphysics, which we might 
characterise as the metaphysical prejudices built into our 
language, and which we might suspect are just part of the 
way we happen to talk about the world but do not correspond 
to objective features of reality.  I'm hard pressed for a 
word for these if we cannot call them conventional, and 
arbitrary doesn't fit the bill for me.


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