[hist-analytic] Analyticity and Oratio Obliqua

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Feb 3 13:24:39 EST 2011


In a message dated 2/1/2011 9:55:10 A.M.,  rbj at rbjones.com writes:
My favourite example of something close enough to  
analyticity to make that notion meaningful even for natural 
language is  indirect reported speech.
If I say something, and you subsequently report  that I said 
that ..., then you are offering a statement which is not  
required to be exactly what I said, but must mean the same, 
and if your  report is accurate then the claim that tne two 
have the same meaning will be  analytically true.

----  

We are considering Strawson's approach to analyticity and spending some  
time in his joint, "Defense of a dogma". 
 
We are considering Grice/Strawson's two examples (cited from WoW, pp.  
204ff):
 
AF (analytically false): "My neighbour's three-year-old child is an  adult."
 
SF (synthetically false): "My neighbour's three-year old child understands  
Russell's Theory of Types."
 
I would proceed to examine the appraisal by G/S of (AF) types, and then  
provide for an exploration in reported speech. Hoping it helps:
 
"We might take ... the logical impossibility
of a child of three's being an adult and the
NATURAL impossibility of a child of three's
understanding Russell's Theory of Types."
 
For (SF), "if the child WERE then produced, and did ... expound [Russell's] 
 Theory [of Types] correctly, answer questions on it, criticise it, and so 
on,  one would in the end be forced to acknowledge that the claim [formerly 
SF] was  literally true."
 
For (AF) [if U means what he says], "we shall be inclined to say that we  
just don't UNDERSTAND what [U] is saying, and to suspect that he doesn't know 
 the MEANING of some of the words he is using. For UNLESS he is prepared to 
admit  that he is using words in ... an unusual sense, we shall say, not 
that we don't  BELIEVE him, but that his words have NO sense [emphasis G/S]." 
(p. 205).
 
"And whatever kind of creature is ultimately produced for our inspection,  
it will NOT lead us to say that what Y said was literally true, but at most 
to  say that we now SEE what he meant."
 
(I disagree at that point, but perhaps I'm more open-minded. JLS).
 
I would think I agree on the whole with Jones's report of the thing in  
"Bootstrap", but I would not know if the Maxim of Quality,
 
"Say what you believe to be true"
 
is in operation. We assume that Y (Y is the utterer of the AF thing, X  is 
the utterer of the SF thing), like X, are earnestly trying to 'mean what 
they  say'. 
 
----- As for oratio obliqua. Perhaps other examples would be in order but I 
 could imagine:

Grice: My neighbour said that his neighbour's three-year old is an  adult.
Strawson: But that's your son!
 
---- OK, so that won't work. Let's try something different:
 
Grice: Patrick [Nowell-Smith, of course] said that his neighbour's  
three-year0old child was an adult.
 
Again, won't work, because no philosopher would report that.
 
Grice: My grocer said that his neighbour's three-year-old is an  adult.
Strawson: And that his pears are violet.
 
----
 
In that case, the oratio obliqua uses the same Donald-Davidsonian approach  
to indirect speech ("Saying THAT" -- disquotational). 
 
I prefer THAT type of 'oratio obliqua'. It does not seem to be fair to  
replace the original oratio in a way that it still yields an AF sentence.
 
Although an entailment may work:
 
"My grocer said that his neighbour's three-year-old child is NOT a  child".
 
Patent falsehood.
 
Or
 
"My grocer said that his neighbour's three-year-old child, who is not an  
adult, is an adult".
 
------ But there may be complications, or for a change, not!
 
Speranza




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