[lit-ideas] Should I see Dylan tomorrow or not?

• From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
• To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
• Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2011 02:06:03 EDT

```In a message dated 6/17/2011 7:48:39 P.M.,  donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx asks:
>>Should I see Dylan tomorrow or  not?

>Can't help you with the Dylan  decision.

----

I already commented on this, but it's worth a  second try.

In symbols, McEvoy's question becomes:

(p v  ~p)?

This seems to be tautologous.

>Shall I see Dylan tomorrow  or not?

The difference being between:

--- "Shall I see Dylan  tomorrow?"

and

--- "Shall I see Dylan tomorrow or not?"

In  my previous post, I analysed McEvoy's 'question' in terms of Grice's
implicature.

The grammar of question is a difficult one.  Consider:

"Where did he say he would go?"

Here, the 'where'  applies to the content of a 'that'-clause. Cfr. Davidson
on "Saying That". It's  an oratio obliqua. Yet the operator of the
x-question crosses that boundary and  occurs in the dominant section of the
question. The case of McEvoy's question is  different, in that, obviously, it
is not
an x-question. But a yes/no question.  It may be argued that yes/no
questions ARE x-questions (cfr. Grice, "Questions",  in "Aspects of Reason" --
the
Kant lectures).

Should I see Dylan  tomorrow?

Possible answers:   1.  Yes.
----------------------------- 0. No.

Here, I use, '1' to  represent probability 100%, and '0' to represent
probability 0%. In between  there is a continuum of answers. "Perhaps yes". Cfr.

--- "Possibly yes,  you should see him."

--- "Probably yes, you should see him."

These  I would not count as "yes" answers. It's more like 'possibly'
applies to  probability < 0.5, while 'probably' applies to probability >  0.5.

It may be argued that McEvoy's question is _ambiguous_. The term,  "in the
flesh" -- seems implicated.

So,

"You should NOT see him in  the flesh, but on television."

-----

Then, 'see' is a trick of a  verb. The idea is that the important thing is
to _hear_ Dylan, rather than 'see'  him. As an opera goer, I use 'see' (an
opera) -- never "hear" an opera (which I  find rough). On the other hand, a
concert of Beethoven I can _hear_ but never  "see". This triggers some odd
implicatures: "I never SAW Toscanini direct  Beethoven; I heard him."
(Strictly, you don't HEAR Toscanini -- the conductor  --).

Strictly, too, it's not the _opera_ you see, but the  singers.

In the case of Dylan, then, the question becomes, _minus_ or  _sans_ the
'or not':

Should I see Dylan tomorrow?

----

And  allow me to echo Ritchie, quod erat demonstrandum,

>Can't help you  with the Dylan decision.

Grice notes that 'shall' should be contrasted  with 'should'.

"Should I see Dylan tomorrow -- or  not?"

versus:

"Shall I see Dylan tomorrow -- or not?"

The  answers should maintain the modal:

"You should NOT see him", or "You  should see him".

But rather:

"You SHALL see him," or "you shall  see him not."

----- Note that the logical form:

(p ~ v  p)?

is different from

(~p v p)?

It may be argued that,  implicaturally, the topic is AFFIRMATIVE, rather
than negative:

"Shall I  see Dylan tomorrow?"

versus:

"Shall I NOT see Dylan  tomorrow?"

By conjoining both scenarios in the same question, but in the
negative-followed-by-affirmative order, selected by McEvoy the implicature is
that he
expects people will answer, You SHOULD see  him.

Cfr.

"Shall I not see Dylan tomorrow -- or should I rather  affirmatively see
him?"

-----

And so on.

Cheers,

J.  L. Speranza

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