[lit-ideas] "Must We Mean What We Say?"

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 15:57:51 EDT

I have not been following this thread but allow me to opine.  Some sentences 
are given, and the option as to whether their truth derives  from:
        opinion (I first  thought 'op' stood for 'operational')
Let's see:
(1) The plant is not important to the students in this  classroom.

This contains a negative, so it's basically meaningless  ("There are no 
weapons of mass distruction". You cannot prove a negative. 

(2)  Carol looked tired.

Metaphysical. If the only evidence we would accept for this is  Carol's 
truthful utterance, "I am tired" and we did not have that evidence then,  this 
becomes metaphysical rambling. Also, it is to _her_ that she had to look  
not to anywyere else ("I do look tired" "No, you don't"). 

(3) I bet it takes you a long time to get to your classes.
This is what Austin called a 'performative' thus neither true nor  false.
(4) I was on roller blades when I fell and broke my leg. 
This is false. It was the _fall_ that broke, or cause his leg, to be  broken. 
What she was doing at the time is irrelevant for the truth of the  apodosis. 
(6) Frogs croak to talk to each other in a pond. 
This is metaphorical and as such (cf. "Every man is an  island"), devoid of a 
truth-value. A literal version would be, "Frogs croak to  _croak_ to each 
other" which is tautological, and thus uninformative) .

(7)  The girl looked sad as she walked home  from school. 
This is equivalent to "Carol looked tired". We need to have  asked the girl 
whether she would reply truthfully with a yes upon giving her a  mirror and ask 
her, "Do you look sad?"

(8)  I have a headache.
This is unverifiable and thus metaphysical as many an unfulfilled husband  
(9) The music hurt my ears. 
This is metaphorical. If literal, it would be "The music hurt _me", i.e. my  
consciousness, which would be unverifiable and metaphysical. 
(10) The umpire looked mad.
Same for Carol and the girl. "Do I look mad? No I don't". Thus false. "Do I  
look mad? Yes I do!" thus true. 

Grice, "Personal Identity", in J. Perry, _Personal  Identity_, Berkeley, 
Calif.: University of California Press. -- the only serious  attempt after 
to deal with personal-identity statements in terms of their  truth-value. 

************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com

Other related posts: