Roger Bishop Jones
rbj at rbjones.com
Sun Jan 30 14:03:21 EST 2011
Well, JL, I wasn't intending to refer to Grice's "bootstrap"
problem but it certainly is germane to the mid century
disputations which ejected Carnap's programme from the
philosophical centre ground (if it was ever there!).
Analyticity, and necessity were central concepts for Carnap,
they coincided (except that analyticity was a property of
sentences and necessity of propositions), and also coincided
with the a priori.
The main planks in the dismissal of Carnap's programme were
first Quine's attack on the analytic/synthetic dichotomy, and
second Kripke's teasing apart of these three dichotomies
(though Danny sounded as if he thought Kripke left
metaphysical necessity and analyticity ("broad logical
I was really probing around the Kripkean end of things,
whereas it seems to me that the "bootstrap" issue is more
conspicuous in the debate about analyticity.
As far as that goes, Quine deliberately confuses the
definition of the concept of Analyticity (which determines
"broad logical truth" in terms of truth conditional
semantics, and doesn't require a bootstrap) with the problem
of defining (truth conditional?) semantics, which does get
you into a bootstrap problem (at the same time as
criticising Carnap for doing the same).
I prefer to call this particular "bootstrap" problem "the
problem of infinite regress in the foundations of semantics",
which is a real and interesting problem on which Quine says
little of value in "Two Dogmas".
This problem is, that to define the semantics of a language
you need to use a language, and in order for the definition
to be meaningful, you must have a definition of the semantics
of the language you use.
Hence, either infinite regress OR at some point you define the
semantics of a language either directly or indirectly in
terms of itself OR you slip into informal semantics, OR some
combination of the above.
The fact is, that it can be done. Not absolutely without
ambiguity or with absolute precision, but with very high
standards, and certainly (for formal language) much higher
than one gets in natural languages.
As it happens my present interest is in the status of
arguments which supposedly establish against Carnap that
there is some notion of metaphysical necessity which goes
beyond his conception of logical necessity, and more
generally in the merits of the kinds of metaphysics which
were pursued in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Plus ca change.
More information about the hist-analytic