[lit-ideas] Grice and Popper on Rationality

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 10:32:11 -0500 (EST)

Grice and Popper on Rationality

In a message dated 1/8/2013 6:09:41  A.M. UTC-02, 
_donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxx.uk_ (mailto:donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx)  entitled,  
"Grice Deconstructed" 
"[N]ot all possible worlds are knowable [to creatures of evolution (we can  
leave God-knowledge aside)]"
I wonder if God is not a creature of evolution.
According to Thomas Aquinas, there is an order:
animal (beast, not rational animal)
---- According to Aquinas, there is 'evolution' there. Similarly, Grice  
sometimes embraced what is called in theory the 'ideal observer' theory: i.e.  
the philosopher assumes he is god -- Grice calls this the 'genitorial  
programme'. He takes two stands: a theoretical one, where the philosopher just  
imagines to be on the peak of evolution -- god -- and an 'engineering' one,  
where the philosopher provides the step that God took when 'creating' less  
evolved creatures.
The topic of mortality/immortality, as discussed in a previous thread,  
"Popper's Immortality" also touches on this. Witness the well-known Welsh  hymn:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise.
---- It seems that in those terms -- to become invisible, say -- is an  
evolutionary step vis-à-vis the less evolutionary step (or stage) -- cfr. 
Wells,  "The invisible man". (Of course, Popper would naively assume that 'an 
invisible  man' is not a potential falsifier -- because, as he tautologically 
would put it,  'we cannot see him'.
Note incidentally, while we consider god's immortality, that Popper, while  
agreeing with Quine, never considers
[] and <> -- where these are the modal symbols
[] (All ravens are black) --- Necessarily, all ravens are black.
[] Man is mortal
[] God is immortal
The way Popper dismisses modality is irrisory, for it is quite possible to  
hold that scientifically
[] All men are mortal 
is scientific in ways Popper would never have imagined.
McEvoy continues:
"[N]ot all possible worlds even give rise to life and to creatures with  
'knowledge': so there is a link that may be conjectured between the universe 
as  it is [ontology] and the fact we can have knowledge of it and even the 
character  of our knowledge of it [epistemology]; but this link does not 
amount to one  being the founded on the other. The universe is emergent - 
creative; its  indeterministic and contingent evolution provides one aspect as 
why  'foundationalism' is mistaken (a vain philosophical project derived from 
the  'justificationist' approach that has dominated Western philosophy 
since the time  of Plato and Aristotle)."
Again, Grice, being an Anglican, would take more of a Berkeleyan approach.  
The fact that there may be realms in the universe which are outside 
knowledge is  neither here nor there. We are concerned, as Grice would say, 
US,  philosophers, as 'knowledge agents'. Never mind craters on the surface of 
the  moon.
Note that 'know' is an English verb. So surely, the idea of knowledge  
depends on the fact that a tribe of Jutes, Angles and Saxons, who settled on 
 Isle of Wight and environs, started to use this verb, 'knawian', to 
represent  something they were concerned with:
"Do you know who killed Cock Robin?"
for example. This is totally irrelevant to whether 'knowlede' is inexistent 
 on the burning surface of the sun.
Where Grice may agree with Popper is that 'to know' has an obvious  
evolutionary value. But for Grice, since his "Causal Theory of Perception", 
stems from the evolutionary value of 
'sensing, perceiving, believing'.
"It would be otiose that all our sensations, perceptions, and beliefs" were 
 false. It would be anti-evolutionary that we are always mistaken. Hence 
the need  for some beliefs to be justified and true; or, in Platonic terms,  
Note that, by the same token, a monkey never knows.
McEvoy continues:
"For such reasons I feel Popper would be sceptical of any attempt to  
provide "ontological foundations for inherent communicative rationality", 
of course we might find that behind this high-sounding jargon lies 
something  modest and acceptable as a proposal."
Indeed. The jargon is high-sounding and pretentious, and in the title of  
the book under discussion, "Grice deconstructed." For Grice, communication is 
A psi P --- i.e. agent A has a perceptual attitude towards a proposition p  
that involves some object ('that apple is rotten').
A utters, "That apple is rotten'.

B recodes the psi as trasmitted by A and comes to believe, "That apple  is 
rotten". In the context of "That apple is rotten" being an advice or 
warning,  B will refrain from eating the apple. 
Nothing high-sounding about it. But we have there the rudiments for the  
ontological foundations for inherent communicative rationality. For it would 
be  irrational for A to want to HELP B by telling him "that apple is rotten" 
when he  knows it isn't -- or vice versa --.
In the context of cooperative rationality, A and B share an environment  
where the truthful psi-transfer has evolutionary value. It is different if A 
and  B do not share an environment and are 'enemies'.

E.g. the Greeks to the Trojans:
"This is a beautiful wooden horse we have constructed because we love you.  
Get it into the city, and celebrate with wine. And we'll forget about the 
war,  and you can keep Helena, the slut".
McEvoy goes on:
"But what about the claim that "we cannot give metaphysical reasons for  
rationality"? Popper would argue that we can, but such reasons will always be  
inconclusive and incomplete."
Well, as Grice says, the 'rednecks' (sorry, Grice's term) from Vienna,  
would just take 'metaphysic' as a "term of abuse", so this rephrasing by McEvoy 
 would need some rephrasing. For Grice, 'metaphysic' is merely 
theory-theory. So  to provide a metaphysics for X is just to provide a 
analysis (alla  Oxonian ordinary-linguistic conceptual analysis) for x, in this 
case,  "rationality". Grice attempts this in a set of lectures that Popper 
never  delivered: the John Locke lectures, which he entitled, "Aspects of 
reason and  reasoning" (a rewrite of his earlier Immanuel Kant Lectures at 
Stanford, that  Popper never delivered either -- note that it makes more sense 
give a set of  lectures on rationality under the auspices of the Immanuel 
Kant Lectures  schedule).
McEvoy continues:
"For example, Popper's _LdF_ is a text that seeks to explain the  
rationality of science - and its explanation is not itself science but consists 
""metaphysical reasons for [its] rationality"."
I'm surprised Popper uses the adjective 'metaphysical' and even so that it  
uses the adjective (a term of abuse, Grice says, for 'rednecks of Vienna') 
as  applied to 'reason'.

A reason is a reason is a reason.
I don't think qualifying 'reason' with 'metaphysical' adds anything to  it.
Joan: I have a headache.
Darby: Have an aspirin.
Joan: Is that a metaphysical reason?
People are interested in reasons qua reasons; not in reasons being  
metaphysical. This begs the question (often unanswered) that there are  
NON-METAPHYSICAL reasons, which is like saying that some ostriches are not  
McEvoy continues in his interesting, constructive commentary:
"It is important to recognise that, from a logical and Darwinian POV, no  
theory of rationality should seek too much - it particular it should not aim 
to  explain our incredible success [e.g. in science] as if that success is a 
 foregone conclusion given some ontological or epistemological 
"foundations". For  there are no such "foundations" and that success is/was not 
foregone  conclusion."
Grice would agree that 'foundation' is too strong of a word.
He would prefer "ground".
When Grandy/Warner were seeking for a title for Grice's festschrift,  
Clarendon press objected to the use of "Grice" ("Who is going to buy a book 
"Grice" in the title?", they objected). Instead, Grandy/Warner came out 
with an  genial acronym:
* Philosophical (i.e. CONCEPTUAL, as per ordinary-linguistic analytic  
* Grounds (i.e. foundations, or building blocks) of
* Rationality (i.e. our ability to use 'therefore' legitimately), that is,  
these building blocks being three human elements -- for who cares for life 
in  Mars?
* Intentions: for to reason is a species of intending. We must INTEND to  
draw a conclusion when we draw it. Unless we INTEND to conclude, we don't  
conclude, and this intention is causally operative in our very reaching the  
conclusion out of the premises.
* Categories: for we need to be able to provide a scheme of things:  
knowledge, qua category, as a subcategory of belief, and reasoning as a  
subcategory of concatenation of justified chains of logical consequences.
* Ends -- for we wouldn't be reasoning, for "no end at all"
The example Grice gives is
1. I have 2 hands
2. f I had 3 more I'd have 5. 
3.Doubling that I'd have 10. 
4. If 4 hands are removed, 6 hands would remain. 
--------- Ergo I would then have 4 more hands than I presently have". 
A 'valid' reasoning. 
Rasoning which is "pointless" (i.e. is directed to no end, or more  
specifically, not clearly directed to the evolutionary solution of a survival  
problem we would hardly call the feat of a rational agent. But he concedes that 
some appeal to some conversational maxim could explain why such things are 
_odd_  (while still pieces of 'reasoning', if you mustn't).
And so on.
On the Beginnings of Theory: Deconstructing Broken Logic in Grice,   
Peter Bornedal  
In this exemplary essay, author Peter Bornedal promotes  Deconstruction  as 
a cogent analytical method whose distinctive  critical object is 
foundational  knowledge. In this, he wants to  restore Deconstruction as a 
discourse,  while continuing to  emphasize it as a critique of metaphysics. 
The  essays discusses the works of Paul Grice and his theory on  language 
and  communication. 
In this essay, the author demonstrates that despite the attempts of  Grice  
to give ontological foundations for inherent communicative  rationality, 
endeavors are unsuccessful. 
Ultimately, Bornedal argues that we cannot give metaphysical reasons  for  
We can only decide to pursue these ideals, but there is nothing beyond  the 
decision that makes the pursuit necessary or inherent. 
Peter Bornedal received his M.A. and Ph.D from the University of  Chicago.
To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: