[lit-ideas] Re: Patty Duke & The Apriori [part 2of 2]

  • From: "Walter C. Okshevsky" <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 23:39:53 -0230

Quoting Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>:

> Walter wrote
> 
> > I was raised to believe in the truth of the general idea that an
> explanation of
> > P does not provide a justification of P. One must already believe state of
> > affairs P has occurred in order to ask for an explanation of P, but the
> concept
> > of an argument disallows already believing the conclusion prior to the
> provision
> > of premises (unless one is a professional politician or lawyer, of course.)
> Thus
> > the explicandum is not a conclusion, and the explicans is not a reason,
> > according to the requirements of the space of reasons.


To which Robert replies:

> I'm not sure I understand this. How does the 'concept' of an argument 
> [disallow] already believing the conclusion before providing the 
> premises that support it? This seems exactly backwards. Premises are 
> premises in an argument to a certain conclusion, and that conclusion 
> must be set forth before there can be any premises. First the crime and 
> then the clue; a footprint isn't a clue until what it's a clue OF is 
> specified.

Walter ripostes:

I think Robert may here be confusing semantic analysis with epistemic analysis.
What a premise requires for its intelligibility is a semantic matter; what a
conclusion requires for its justification is an epistemic matter. 

Epistemically, one should not believe or conclude a crime has been committed
prior to evidence of clues to the crime. Semantically, with reference to the
concept of "clues," a clue to a crime presupposes for its intelligibility the
occurrence of a crime. 

Finding a footprint on the beach may be a reason for believing that one is not
alone on the island. But one should not believe that one is (not) alone on an
island until evidence is gathered in justification of that conclusion. This is
to say that while the concept of a premise is intelligible as a premise only in
connection with a conclusion, the epistemic matter of the justification of a
conclusion requires one to suspend judgement regarding the truth or rightness
of a conclusion until premises are given in soundly warranting truth or
rightness. 

I can explain to you why Judy failed the midterm. And my explanation can count
as an explanation only because we both agree that Judy indeed did fail her
midterm. If we did not believe that, "explanation" would not get off the
ground. Were you, however, to doubt that Judy failed her midterm, you would not
ask for an explanation of why she did so. Instead, you may ask
for evidence that she indeed did fail her midterm. In this latter context, my
response to your query would not take the form of an explanation of why she
failed her midterm. I would show you her test and the grade she received. You
may then query the justifiability of my having assigned her a failing grade. I
would then explain to you the criteria I employed and the standard at which
those criteria were applied, and then provide justification for the appropriacy
of the criteria and the standard I used.


Robert again:

> Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly.
> 
> Shut up he explained.
> 
> ?Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrunts

Walter: I'm not clear how the "Shut up" here functions as an explanation.
Perhaps only because the utterance it is a response to is not an explicandum
(something to be explained.) That utterance is a question requiring a yes/no
answer. Upon receiving a yes/no response, the questioner may ask for an
explanation of how daddy got lost or of why daddy believes he is lost.

Walter O
wishing for heat, somewhere east of MUN




> Robert Paul,
> feeling the heat, somewhere south of Reed College
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