[hist-analytic] Bootstrap

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Mon Jan 31 10:45:09 EST 2011

R. B. Jones: "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."

Interesting. How things may connect (or not). It´s good Jones is 
optimistic about the bootstrap problem, and that he connects it with 
Quine´s infamous "Dogma" thing. Indeed, I´ve been thinking about 
Strawson´s (and Grice´s) reply to that dogma which may connect with 
Jones´s point as to the analyticity (alleged) of descriptive metaphysic 
statements in late 20th century philosophy.

The example of "analytic" in Grice & Strawson, in that paper is:

"My neighbour´s three-year old child is an adult"

as opposed to "and he understands Russell´s theory of types".

G & S argue that there is a meaning postulate here:

      (x)3x --> -Ax

If x is a three-year old thing, x is NOT an adult.

(cfr. Quine, "This particular bachelor IS married").

------ Now, statements like the above are more easy to digest than 
Danny Frederick´s

(i) Material bodies exist.

etc. -- i.e. a descriptive metaphysic statement (Locke?) which is 
"revised" in Berkeley´s revisionary scheme to yield the conceivable 

(ii) Material bodies do not exist.

(Danny fails to consider the important topic of "reductive analysis" -- 
Perhaps a Berkeleyan may suggest that they "exist", qua percepta).

In any case, G & S seem to be arguing that our "actual conceptual 
scheme" has items like "three-year old", "adult", "understands the 
theory of types", etc., and that there ARE behavioural output in terms 
of the creatures posessing those languages. So there IS a way out.

When faced with an analytically false statement, Stawson goes:

       ------ "I don´t understand that!"

whereas when faced with a synthetically false statement, he rather goes:

      ------- "I don´t believe that!"


Grice and possibly Strawson held two projects here. One is more of an 
eschatological (or transcendental) one: to consider the profitability 
of a creature possessing the notion of "analytic truth". Another seems 
to be more local: to review for this or that concept if it can yield 
some analytic statement ("three-year old"). Note that if you are a cat, 
and 3 year old, you are possibly an adult. So one has to be careful 
here. There seems to be a further predicate in need here: HUMAN.

The idea developed in 1960s Oxford into the idea of a language for a 
Population (P) for which some ideas merge in analytic statements. 
Bennett in Linguistic Behaviour is an example. Also my favourite: 
Loar´s DPhil thesis on "Sentence meaning", supervised by Warnock, and 
Peacocke in the Evans/McDowell collection, Meaning and Truth. It would 
seem that these authors are indeed claiming that there is a 
"naturalistic" (in terms of behavioural output -- "I don´t understand 
what you mean") which determines which truths are held to be analytic 
for a population, or an individual (vide Grice, on idiolect meaning, 
idiosyncratic, in WoW:6).

In any case, I´m glad Jones sees the bootstrap principle  or problem 
(which he rephrases in terms of the dilemma involving ad-infinitum 
regress) as characteristic but hardly fatal to the semantic enterprise, 

Grice in any case, as his "Retrospective Epilogue" (lastest section) 
shows, was leaning towards a "pragmaticist" (in terms of utility) of 
the justification of "analyticity". In this conception, he would argue 
that it is not necessary that the statements of descriptive metaphysics 
ARE analytic. Only that are "deemed" as valid in terms of their 
justification power, or so. This pragmatism may have more than a point 
of contact with the leader at Carnap Corner.



-----"Try to pull up yourself by your own bootstraps: do not introduce 
a metalanguage which is so rich that you find it impossible to 
re-define in object-language statements" (For the original formulation, 
vide "Reply to Richards").

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