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

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Fri Mar 5 08:56:35 EST 2010

On Friday 05 Mar 2010 06:57, Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 3/4/2010 7:42:57 A.M.  Eastern
>  Standard Time, rbj at rbjones.com writes:
> That sounds very  intemperate.
> How about:
> "snow" means the same as  "snow"?
> ----
> I see. And we can also play with
> "snow is white or it isn't" (L-analytic)
> or "if snow is white, snow is white (L-analytic)
> "if snow is white and grass is green, grass is green and
>  snow is white" (L-analytic).

But my example was a counterexample to your observation that 
the meta-linguistic propositions are synthetic (which they 
often are) and my example was offered as an analytic 
proposition in the metalanguage, whereas yours are analytic 
propositions in the object language (apart from the 
parenthetical claim as to their status).

> One bit where neo-Carnap might like to consider Grice is
>  in the specification of 'sentence' ('snow is white') to
>  _utterance_ ('snow is white',  token, rather than type).
>  Grice must have inherited this from his pupil  Strawson,
>  who couldn't stand a sentence!

I suspect he wouldn't be keen, because we have moved in the 
direction of the physically concrete, and this I would 
regard as a bad think for a logician.
"Sentence" is problematic because you need more, so 
"statement" is better, but then that is also at risk of 
being thought an event.  One needs a nice term-of-art for a 
sentence together with sufficient context to disambiguate the 
proposition it expresses.

> Grice writes in section on Truth in WoW:iii, p. 56
> "My sympathies don't lie with Strawson's Ramsey-based
>  redundance-theory of truth, but rather with Tarski's
>  theory of correspondence" (he had just cited on  the
>  previous page). (or words). He goes on to claim his
>  trust in the feasibility  of such a theory:

I think that's pretty much where Carnap's semantics ends up.

> "it is possible to construct a theory
> which treats truth as (primarily) a
> property, not 'true' but 'factually satisfactory'."
> I see that point above as merely verbal and not involving
>  any serious threat.

Yes, the significance of the move escapes me.
But the move away from considering propositions as merely 
truth bearers is taken very seriously in my notion of 
"epistemic retreat".

> "Let me ALSO assume that it will be
> a CONSEQUENCE [theorem. JLS] of
> such a theory that there will be a class
> K of utterances (utterances of affirmative
> subject-predicate sentences --
> [  snow is white   JLS ]
> ) such that
>     Every member of K
> "(1) designates [or refers to. JLS]
> some item and indicates [or predicates. JLS]
> some CLASS (these verbs to be
> explained within the theory)."
> and
> "(2) is factually satisfactory if
> the item belongs to the class."
> "Let me finally assume that there can be
> a method of introducign a form of
> expression, 'it is true that ...' and linking
> it with the notion 'factually satisfactory',
> a consequence of which will be that to say
> 'it is true that Smith is happy' will be
> equivalent to saying that ANY utterance
> of class K which designates Smith and
> indicates the class of happy people is
> factually satisfactory (that is, any utterance
> which assigns Smith to the class of happy
> people is factually satisfactory."

That sounds OK to me.


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