[lit-ideas] Re: Hartiana

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  • Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2015 05:29:56 -0400

O. Kusturica was suggesting that Witters is difficult to interpret (I'm  
paraphrasing), and as R. Paul notes, O. Kusturica is speaking for himself. The 
 implicature, on R. Paul, seems to be that we can always give it a try! 
In any case, Gordon Baker did! He ended up with what he called "criterial  
semantics", which would have NOT pleased Grice much. Why? Well, because the  
whole idea of the conversational implicature is to _SAVE_ truth-conditional 
(or  even truth-functional) semantics, rather than create a new variety of 
it. But  Baker was being serious: he is thinking that the idea of a 
criterion (A being a  criterion for B), usually represented in a conditional 
is a _logical_  relation that has a good pedigree in the history of logic and 
which could well  prove the keyword to semantics. 
Years later, when Dworkin succeede Hart as chair of jurisprudence at  
Oxford, he started using 'criterial sematnics' (without reading Gordon Baker!)  
and the debate ensued!
If Rogers Albritton once wrote about the use of 'criterion' in Hart, one  
could fill pages with the use of 'criterion' in Hart -- surely 
Wittgensteinian,  and one big contrast with Grice: Grice only quoted Witters to 
him,  except perhaps once in "Method in philosophical psychology" when he 
uses  'outward criterion' of manifestness of psychological predicates in 
public  behaviour.
As for Hart, let's just review a few instances. He speaks of the "ultimate  
criteria of validity" for law. Also: "the criteria for identifying the law 
are  multiple". Also: "the statutory order provides the criteria". Also of 
"the  ultimacy of the rule of recognition and the supremacy of one of its  
criteria."Also: "the status of a rule as a member of the system now depends on 
 whether it satisfies certain criteria." "The rule of recognition" 
"incorporates"  "criteria of legal validity". Also of "a unified consensus on 
the original  criteria of legal validity." Also: "We can simply say that the 
statement that a  particular rule is valid MEANS that it satisfies all the 
criteria provided by  the rule of recognition." Also: "an ultimate rule of 
recognition provides  authorative criteria for the identification" of primary 
laws.  "The rule of  recognition SPECIFIES the criteria." "Legal PRINCIPLES 
are identified by  pedigree criteria." "Fact-based criteria may have partial 
control over  discretionary decisions." "Those rules of behaviour which are 
VALID according to  the system's ultimate CRITERIA of validity must be 
generally obeyed." "There is  no basic rule providing general criteria of 
validity for the rules of  INTER-national law." "Efficacy of a particular rule 
part of the system's  criteria of validity." "The rule of recognition 
providing THE CRITERIA by which  the validity of other rules of the system is 
assessed is an ultimate rule." Hart  speaks of "general obedience to the rules 
which are basic according to the  CRITERIA of validity in use in the courts." 
"The beginnings of such a split over  the ULTIMATE CRITERIA to be used in 
IDENTIFYING the LAW was seen in the  constitutional troubles of South Africa 
in 1954." "The rule does this most often  by SUPPLYING CRITERIA OF VALIDITY." 
"Wherever a rule of recognition is ACCEPTED  both private persons and 
officials are provided with AUTHORATIVE [and not merely  coercive] criteria for 
identifying primary rules of obligation." Hart writes: "I  ascribe the 
general agreement found among Judges as to the CRITERIA for the  identification 
the sources of law to their shared acceptance of rules." "The  rule of 
recognition is a customary social rule that provides CRITERIA for  assessing 
VALIDITY of all the other rules in the legal system." Hart speaks  "in the 
case of legal rules" of "the criteria of relevance and closeness of  
resemblance".  "Enacted legal rules are identifiable as valid legal rules  by 
CRITERIA provided by the rule of recognition." Hart speaks of "the use  made 
by judges of GENERAL CRITERIA of validity in recognising a statute." 
Hart sometimes speaks of criterion in the singular (that echoes the title  
of Albritton's essay), when defining a 'supreme criterion', or rather a  
'criterion of legal validity of rule' as being 'supreme'. Also: "The rule  of 
recognition is necessary if rules are to be identified by such a CRITERION."  
Also: "The rule of recognition simply identifies enactment as the unique  
identifying mark of CRITERION OF VALIDITY of the rules." Hart speaks of the 
rule  of recognition as "the ultimate criterion in identifying the law."

So it's not surprising that Dworkin should get slightly confused and refer  
to 'criterial semantics', forgetting or not knowing that Gordon Baker was 
using  the sobriquet more formally -- But then, there is a justification for 
Dworkin's  usage. After publishing on Criterial semantics, Baker did 
contribute to a  festschrift for Hart with an essay on "Defeasibility and 
and so there  IS an overlap (but other criterial semanticists were not 
really into Hart: the  early Crispin Wright, for example, or James Austin, and 
his criteriology -- so  one has, to echo Hart, to be 'careful'. 

In "Meaning & Criteria" H.  Khatchadourian refers to  "Criterial 
Semantics", and notes that, although  Wittgenstein does not offer an explicit 
definition of "outward criterion" in the  Philosophical Investigations, he 
that criteria for "p" are the  circumstances which would justify one in 
asserting that "p", and that could be a  good starting point. 

As for Baker, when H. P. Grice left St. John's, they (St. John's)  
obviously needed a philosophy tutor. They engaged G. P. Baker. 

Onto McEvoy's exegesis of Witters now -- after all the quote he chose does  
mention 'criterion'!

Thanks to D. McEvoy for his further exegesis. I think it might be still  
appropriate to have this under Hartiana since we can see Hart under Witters's  

In a message dated 3/29/2015 5:13:18 P.M. Eastern Daylight  Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
What W is getting at here could be  rephrased as follows: "Now ask 
yourself, how is it shown that one means the one  thing or the other by "x!2"? 
it is shown may be, for example, by the kind of  way we always use it, by the 
way we are taught to use it. How it is shown will  reveal the sense in 
which meaning it can determine the steps in advance."  

I see. I was slightly confused by the grammar of the Witters passage --  
notably the 'it': a very complex word if ever there was. As the Duck says in  
"Alice in Wonderland": "I know what 'it' means when I see one: it's usually 
a  worm; the question is what the bishop saw it advisable." So we have  

"Now ask yourself: how does one mean the one thing or the other  by"x!2"? 
That will be how meaning it can determine the steps in  advance."

And McEvoy's good rephrase: "How it is shown will reveal the  sense in 
which meaning it can determine the steps in advance."

The 'it'  then is the OBJECT, grammatical, of 'mean': meaning _it_.  One 
problem  with this, and Witters does use 'meinen' here, which is cognate with 
English  'mean' (that obsessed Grice, but not Hobbes -- he preferred 
'significare', but  then he wrote in Latin) -- is that it's best to start with 
"meaning that...",  i..e. "mean" as followed by what J. L. Austin calls a  

Let's see if we can rephrase the passage by Witters using  "meaning 
that..." (i) Witters's own phrasing:

"Now ask yourself: how does  one mean the one thing or the other by"x!2"? 
That will be how meaning it can  determine the steps in advance."

I think it IS possible to rephrase  Witters's use of 'mean' in terms of 
'mean that...':

"Now ask yourself:  how does an utterer mean that p, as different from his 
meaning that q by  uttering some imperative involving "x!2" (How does the 
addressee UNDERSTAND the  utterer as meaning, by uttering "x!2" that the 
addressee is to provide the  doubling of x or the squaring of x?) 

Witters goes on: "That will be how  meaning that p (rather than that q) can 
determine the steps in advance." In more  detail: "That will be how the 
addressee understanding that by uttering "x!2" the  utterer meant that the 
addressee is to double x, rather than square x, can  determine the steps in 

Now for part of McEvoy's good rephrase:  "How it is shown will reveal the 
sense in which meaning it can determine the  steps in advance."

Again, I would expand on the 'it': "How it is shown  will reveal the sense 
in which the utterer meaning that the addressee is to  double x, rather than 
square x can determine the steps in advance."

This  is a mathematical example. And I don't know where Witters got the 
idea of the  "x!2", but in general, arithmetic formulae are NEVER ambiguous as 
Witters claims  to be. They are arbitrary, and today I'm feeling Hilbertian, 
so I'll say that  they are just tokens on a page. If the mathematician 
taught his student to take  "x2" to mean 'Please square x', it's OBVIOUS that 
the only criteria that the  mathematician has for saying that his student has 
learned "x2" is by examples.  "Give me the square of 4" (and the student 
answering "16"); give me the square  of 6" (and the student saying "36"). 

In a similar way, if the  mathematician taught the student to restrict "2x" 
to mean "Please double the  value x", he will know the student has learned 
it by examples: "double 7" (and  the student answering "14"), "double 50" 
(and the student answering:  "100").

How does this relate to Hart. Via G. P. Baker. The keyword is  CRITERIAL 

Dworkin hypothesizes that positivists insist on  consensus because they 
tacitly subscribe to a criterial semantics, according to  which concepts may be 
shared only if the criteria for the proper application of  the
concepts are shared. 

Thus, a criterial semantics for the concept  of "law" would require that 
community members can share the same concept of law  – and hence have 
meaningful dialogue about their law – only if they share the  same criteria for 
application of the concept. 

Since the criteria for  the application of the concept of, say, U.S. law 
are just the grounds of U.S.  law, a criterial semantics demands that 
communities share the same grounds of  law in order to share the same concept 
of law.

Dworkin argues that  criterial semantics is defective precisely because 
criterial semantics is unable  to
account for theoretical legal disagreements. 

This is the semantic  sting argument. 

Notice that the semantic sting argument is no objection  to positivism if 
positivism is not committed to criterial semantics. See, for  example, Joseph 
Raz, "Two Views of the Nature of the Law: A  Partial
Comparison", in "Hart’s Postscript" and Jules Coleman and Ori  Simchen, 
"Law" in Legal Theory 9. 

There is another reason why  positivists have misjudged the force of Dworkin
’s critique.

They may have  conflated the objection from theoretical disagreements with 
the semantic sting  argument.

The thought goes as follows.

Since positivism is not  committed to criterial semantics and since the 
semantic sting argument is an  objection to criterial semantics, the semantic 
sting argument poses no threat to  positivism. 

This is true, of course, but given that the semantic sting  argument is not 
the same as the objection from theoretical disagreements, the  failure of 
the former is irrelevant to the success of the latter.

St.  John's usually requires TWO philosophy tutors: during Grice's time, it 
was  Mabbott and Grice (Mabbott provides a lovely memorial of Grice in 
Mabbott,  "Oxford memories"). In Baker's time, it was Hacker. There is a 
contrast: Mabbott  and Grice never overlapped -- except when tutoring Strawson. 
Baker and  Hacker overlapped a lot! During the 1980s (and earlier) Baker (who 
authored:  "Criteria: a new foundation for semantics" for "Ratio") and 
Hacker produced a  massive commentary on Wittgenstein’s "Philosophical 
Investigations: in which the  notion of meaning was central. They also 
attempted to 
develop a stark  alternative to Frege's mind style and Frege’s semantics, “
criterial” semantics  (Baker's contribution to PGRICE is "Alternative mind 
styles" on Frege vs.  Witters). 

There is of course much continued debate about this notion of  a criterion. 
 A very influential and critical response to G. P. Baker (both  as reading 
of Wittgenstein and as philosophically worthy conception) is J.  McDowell, 

"Criteria, Defeasibility and Knowledge", 

Proceedings  of the British Academy 68 reprinted in J. McDowell, "Meaning, 
Knowledge and  Reality".(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

See also, more  recently, Steven G. Affeldt, 

"The Ground of Mutuality: Criteria,  Judgment and Intelligibility in 
Stephen Mulhall and Stanley Cavell" in the  European Journal of Philosophy 6, 
the response, Stephen Mulhall, “The  Givenness of Grammar: A Reply to Steven 
Affeldt,” European Journal of Philosophy  6. 

In "Objectivity in Law", Nicos Stavropoulos notes that the truth that  "CO" 
is a contract iff CO is A, B, and C, -- where A, B, and C are the relevant  
criteria, is a what Stavropoulos calls a 'degenerate truth'. He adds that  
pragmaticists may argue against the idea that semantics is at all relevant 
to  law, assuming that semantics cannot but be criterial semantics.

In  "Between Authority and Interpretation: On the Theory of Law", J. Raz 
asks: "What  is criterial semantics? It claims that 'we follow shared rules in 
using any  word."

"These rules set out criteria that supply the word's meaning".  

"Later we learn by implication that the criteria set conditions for the  
correct application of the words the meanings of which they define."

See  also Baker, 'Defeasibility and Meaning', in the Hart festschrift where 
Baker who  suggests that Hart had better adopt the theory of criteria -- as 
if he (Hart)  hadn't used the concept enough times already!
I append below a sort of reference list for criterial semantics. 




Albritton, R. On  Wittgenstein's use of the word 'criterion'. 
Arrington, R. "Criteria and  Entailment" Ratio 21
Austin, James.  Wittgenstein's Criterial  Semantics,  University of Oxford, 
Austin, James. “Criteriology: A  Minimally Correct Method.” Metaphilosophy 
Baker, G.P. "Criteria: A New  Foundation for Semantics", Ratio, 16. 
Baker, G. P. Ludwig Wittgenstein and  Friedrich Waismann, The Voices of 
Wittgenstein, the Vienna Circle: Original  German Texts and English 
Translations /Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich  Waismann, ed. by Gordon P. 
(London: Routledge).
Gordon P. Baker,  Wittgenstein's Method: Neglected Aspects, Malden, MA: 
Kahane, G. & Kuusela, O. Wittgenstein and his interpreters: essays in  
memory of Gordon Baker, Oxford: Blackwell. 
Kenny, A. Criterion, in Edwards,  Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 
Levin, Y. "Criterial Semantics and Qualia".  Facta Philosophica 6
Lycan, W. Wittgenstein's Criteria. 
Strawson,  Individuals -- on 'logically adequate criteria'. 
Vorobej, M.  "Criteria  and conditionals", Southern Journal of Philosophy. 
Wright, C. Anti-realist  semantics: the role of criteria. 
Wright, C. Second thoughts about criteria. 
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