[hist-analytic] Descriptive Metaphysics and Analyticity

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Fri Jan 28 15:10:15 EST 2011

On Friday 28 Jan 2011 17:22, you wrote:
> Hi Roger,
> I just took a look at the opening pages of 'Individuals.'
> The position seems to me to be this. Although
> descriptive metaphysics is a product of analysis, it is
> an analysis of 'our actual conceptual scheme' (Strawson
> seems to think we have only one of those). Since he also
> thinks that alternative 'revisionary' conceptual schemes
> are possible, he would have, I think, to say that the
> propositions of descriptive metaphysics are not
> analytic. They are just ones we feel at home with.

I don't see that it follows from the possibility of 
alternatives that the metaphyscal claims are not analytic.
The alternatives might be derived from alternative usages 
which constitute a change in meaning of the language.
In any case, a revisionary metaphysicist probably pays 
little attention to descriptive metaphysics and devises a 
new metaphysic as an improvement on the efforts of previous 
metaphysicians and without reference to ordinary usage.

One might ask, if Strawson is not explicit on the status of 
the metaphysics emerging from the descriptivist analysis, 
how an analysis of usage can separate metaphysical from 
analytic truths, noting that the concept of metaphysics is a 
philosophical term of art which has no ordinary counterpart.

However, I'm not really here to criticise Strawson's 
position so much as simply to understand whether he had one.

It might be useful to compare with Kripke, who I understand 
as taking the position that there is a metaphysical notion 
of necessity which is distinct both from logical necessity, 
and from analyticity and with Carnap who effectively 
identified logical necessity and analyticity and denied any 
distinct metaphysical necessity (though I think he and 
Kripke both had necessity as truth in all possible worlds).

In this simplistic scenario we characterise Carnap as 
identifying the three concepts, analytic, logically 
necessary metaphysically necessary (without actually talking 
about the latter redundant concept), and Kripke as 
separating all three.
In these terms, do we know whether Strawson would place 
himself and where?

Roger Jones

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