[lit-ideas] Richard Nixon, Chair of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Oxford

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:00:11 -0500 (EST)

"Nixon" would refer to the same person whether or not he had become  
President of the United States

In a message dated 1/15/2013 10:33:17 P.M.  UTC-02, profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx 
... to explain what "Richard Nixon  would refer to the same man whether or 
not he had become President"  means...
He is referring to the link provided by R. Paul which reads:
"‘Richard Nixon’ would refer to the same man whether or not he had become  
Note the use of the quotation marks:
"Richard Nixon" would refer to the same man whether or not he had become  
President of the United States".
This is taken of course from Kripke. When Dummett compiled his book on  
essays on language, he entitled it "Seas of Language", as per Kripke's genial  
Kripke starts his book on " Naming and Necessity" with the sentence:
Socrates is called 'Socrates'.
Kripke comments:
"Actually, a sentences like the above:
Socrates is called "Socrates" 
is a very interesting and one can spend hours talking about their analysis. 
 I actually did, once, do that. See how high the seas of language can rise. 
And  at the lowest points too.
The new sentence is as per header, as spotted by Ritchie

"‘Richard Nixon’ would refer to the same man whether or not he had  become 
President of the United States.
Grice is subtler. He requires an analysis of 'referring' and 'describing'.  
The analysis follows the lines by Stephen Schiffer in the "Synthese"  
By uttering "Richard Nixon", Utterer refers to Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon was a President of the United States. 
Conditionally, had Richard Nixon NOT become a president of the United  
States, we (or his mother) would still refer to him as Richard Nixon.
Strictly, his rigid name is:
Richard Milhous Nixon
where Milhous is a rigidity (to use Kripke's neologism) from Nixon's  
maternal side.
Nixon was inaugurated as president on January 20, 1969, sworn in by his  
onetime political rival, Chief Justice Earl Warren. Pat Nixon held the family  
Bibles open at Isaiah 2:4, which reads, "They shall beat their swords into  
plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." In his inaugural address, 
 which received almost uniformly positive reviews, Nixon remarked that "the 
 greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker" —a phrase 
that  would later be placed on his gravestone. He spoke about turning partisan 
 politics into a new age of unity:

In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words;  from 
inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry  
rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that  
postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop  
shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can 
be  heard as well as our voices.
Oddly, Grice refers to Nixon in the John Locke Lectures: 

Grice writes:
"Richard Nixon _ought_ to *get* the Oxford Chair of Moral and Pastoral  
In such an utterance, Grice writes, "Richard Nixon is spoken as being  
(i) the person who is or should be _concerned_ about what is being   stated 
to be a matter of necessity, but also
(ii) the agent (or patient) whose doings (or sufferings) are of  concern."

"Now," Grice observes, this may be a trick, for although, "often the  same 
person operates (as here) in both roles."
"But sometimes the same person doesn't."
"And where this is so, it is cozy to fall into the idea that 
a single REFERENCE to the agent 
(or patient) 
-- i.e. our (ii) above -- 
is ALL that is needed, and so that the PERSON-relativisation can be  
"But things are not always like thus -- at least in some idiolects".
Suppose your uncle were to utter:
"It is necessary to Joe Garagiola that the American public retains its  
interest in baseball."

"The uncle's utterance is different from the one about Nixon Grice  opened 
his lecture with". "And in this precise respect I was talking  about."
Grice then clarifies:
"I propose, then, we distinguish
(i) the person _for whom_ 
something is a reason (or is necessary),  and
(ii) the person _about whom_ we are 
talking when we say _what_ is  necessary, or
what there is a reason for."
And that's still not final. "Moreover," he adds, "it seems plausible to  
suggest that,

if (or when) NO ONE IS EXPLICITLY 
or IMPLICITLY referred to  as a person 
for whom
something is necessary (or as called 
for  by reason), 
we are justified to assume that 
the reason or the necessity 
of what  I shall call a GENERAL type.
 -- A "public" or "objective", type, 
rather than a "private" or  "subjective"
"The outcome of the aforegoing suggestion yields an interesting consequence 
 for those who have been interested enough to follow me this far."
"For, the suggested treatment would represent it 
as of GENERAL concern,

now, that Richard Nixon [the President of the United States]  
apply for the mentioned chair, which is quite
inappropriate to say the  least, at least to my dear old friend, Thomas 
Nagel -- if I understood him  correctly as I browsed through his engaging, _The 
Possibility of  Altruism_."("Aspects of Reason", p. 63). 

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