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

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Mar 5 13:10:38 EST 2010

In a message dated 3/5/2010 9:29:36 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
"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.
Exactly. The idea of 'truth-bearer'. I suppose one does a search in  
philosophy literature, and 'truth-bearer' HAS to come up as a 'keyword'. I mean,  
what is 'truth-bearer' BUT a keyword!? Such a bit of jargon. Of course it's 
the  most natural English, only convoluted. And a 'bearer' is possibly, in 
Canada, a  breeder of bears, so one has to be careful.
There must have been a good study of this.

Indeed, 'sentence' is wrong. Tarski never used those. Satz, at most, I  
would hope, and we may need to see what Polish (Slavic Language) he used for  
that. The Satz is cognate with the "Saw" of Archaic English, and thus cognate 
 with "Say". Grice was enamoured with "Say". Hare 1945, I think -- his 
thesis for  Oxford -- could NOT use such Anglo-Saxonism, so he uses DICTIVE 
which is very  good.
So we may do to revise some of Hare's subatomic particles of logic. I have, 
 elsewhere, and noted the Gricean connections.
Hare disliked the dictive/dictor distinction -- which he meant to translate 
 Frege, and opted for Greek roots: the phrastic and the neustic. While 
Grice  recognises these he is going back to the dictive in Retrospective 
Epilogue.  "Dic-" has a good Grecian root to it. I would submit, for example, that 
when  they say, "master dixit", it's not merely that he (the master) _said_ 
it, but  that he _showed_ it, indicated, inDIC-ated, and thus the master 
cannot, on risk  of logical contradiction on the part of the reporter, have 
been wrong. (How can  he indicate something if what he indicates is not out 
there, somewhere -- the  objection may go that he indicates a mistake, though 
-- but surely we should be  able to disimplicate that, or the master will!).
So I would think it's the phrastic or the dictum that are the  
truth-bearers. But there are crucial problems. Grice played with the idea of a  'radix', 
too -- as in chemistry -- and exegesis has it, apres Wittgenstein and  
Black. But in any case, a radix CANNOT be the bearer of truth, because it's PART 
 of a propositional complex, not the whole hog. Perhaps going back to 
Frege's  analysis of the assertion sign should do here. I would think Frege would 
have  the judgement as truth-bearer.
Grice would allow for both judgings and 'dicta' to be truth-bearers.
His maxims conjoining 'truth': Try to make your contribution one that is  
true. Do not say what you believe to be false -- are charmingly vague -- but 
you  see where he is leading!
Warnock has a nice piece on this, "Bristol Revisited", seeing that  that 
big moment was when Austin and Strawson discussed these issues -- later  taken 
up by Grice -- back at the Joint session of the Mind Association and the  
Aristotelian Society in that charming town on the Severn.
J. L. Speranza

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