|Part I||The Semantic Tradition|
|Chapter 1||Kant, analysis, and pure intuition|
|Chapter 2||Bolzano and the birth of semantics|
|Chapter 3||Geometry, pure intuition, and the a priori|
|Chapter 4||Frege's semantics and the a priori in arithmetic|
|Chapter 5||Meaning and Ontology|
|Chapter 6||On Denoting|
|Chapter 7||Logic in Transition|
|Chapter 8||A logico-philosophical treatise|
|Part II||Vienna, 1925-1935|
|Chapter 9||Schlick before Vienna|
|Chapter 10||Philosophers on relativity|
|Chapter 11||Carnap before Vienna|
|Chapter 12||Scientific idealism and semantic idealism|
|Chapter 13||Return of Ludwig Wittgenstein|
|Chapter 14||A priori knowledge and the constitution of meaning|
|Chapter 15||The road to syntax|
|Chapter 16||Syntax and truth|
|Chapter 17||Semantic conventionalism and the factuality of meaning|
|Chapter 18||The problem of induction: theories|
|Chapter 19||The problem of experience: protocols|
LSL = Logical Syntax of Language [Carnap37]
The introduction puts this account of the semantic tradition in context. The author discerns three major currents in epistemology in the nineteenth century, distinguished by their attitudes toward the a priori. These traditions were:
In his introduction Coffa says that Carnap is not so hot on the underlying philosophical issues as he is on "formal level philosophical issues", and that though LSL exhibits "a certain attitude towards semantic matters" he fails to articulate that attitude clearly.
I find myself disagreeing with Coffa about the substance and merits of Carnap's position here, even though I have not read LSL!
I sketch here what I can remember of my disagreement (having failed to take notes while reading).
I doubt that this is something which Carnap would have accepted, and it is not something which I myself accept. There is a problem of semantic regress which does require an answer, but I would not myself answer this problem with the supposition that there is a language somewhere whose semantics is determined absolutely rather than being a matter of convention, which is the best sense I can make of Coffa's "factuality of meaning" thesis.
There is a question here about what Carnap meant. To me it seems obvious that he is saying that once a physical theory has been formalised, the consequences of the theory can be obtained syntactically. i.e. once the P-rules have been laid down, P-truth becomes a matter of syntax. He is not saying that you can decide syntactically whether the theory is true, i.e. he is not saying either that the P-rules themselves can be decided syntactically, or even that the P-rules are a matter of convention.
"When he explained that the problem of foundations and other philosophical questions were 'at bottom (im Grund) syntactical , although the ordinary formulation of the problems often disguises their character' (LSL p331), Carnap was inadvertently expressing the non-conventional character of his convictions"I don't myself accept this. Carnap has adopted a very general position about the character of philosophy, but does not feel obliged to reflect this position in a wholesale rewording of talk about philosophical problems. This is analogous to his position on pseudo-object sentences. Its not quite the same because in his explanation of how pseudo-object sentences are to be rendered in the formal mode as talk about syntax, he does not talk about the possibility that they be rendered as proposals about conventions or methods rather than as statements about syntax. However, if challenged I think it likely that he would claim that his assertions about the talk about foundations are themselves also proposals, or are covered by his previous proposal about the nature of philosophy.
It is true that Carnap seems sometimes more dogmatic about these things than is strictly consistent with making a proposal, but again, if challenged I think he would moderate his dogmatism rather than his principle of tolerance.