[lit-ideas] Re: The Triteness of Dispositional Talk/Implicature

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2010 08:00:49 +0000 (GMT)

--- On Wed, 28/4/10, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:

> That is Donal as his Baden-Powell worst.

Ah. The "Baden-Powell" retort. To be followed by the "Mafeking" rebuttal. 
Despite a chequered past in both cub and non-cub scouts, including being 
cruelly exploited during "Bob-A-Job" week by the conveniently literal, I see 
the attraction of B-P to you but not the point.

> Of course there is
> NO such thing  
> as 'character building or development'. You build a house;
> you develop a  
> development. To think that you can rear a child is
> obscene.

Obviously not a parent then.

> This is slightly obsolete.

This, surely, is just the cunning linguists way of saying "That's obviously 

> Of course the CD broke because
> it is  
> "breakable".

See what I mean?

> But, it is a mere implicature that prohibits
> from saying, "The CD  is 
> breakable. I broke it". Usage suggest we express the first
> conjunct in the  
> past tense: "The CD WAS breakable. I broke it". The fact
> that this is a mere  
> conversational implicature can be seen from the
> 'defeasible' character of a  
> claim like, "She is a virgin. I deflowered her."

The view that present reality is the upshot of prior dispositional states [or 
propensities or potentialities] is a metaphysical view, not based on 
"implicature" nor dependent on it. "The cd is breakable. I broke it." is not 
prohibited - for it may remain breakable as I snap the broken pieces a second 
time. [That is, only if the act of breaking something once means it is no 
longer further breakable, ought we reflect this by using the past tense: "It 
was breakable (but no longer any further is breakable) and I broke it." But 
this is only a convention of language that in itself may be a poor guide to 
correct metaphysics].

As said in my post, the real clout of this metaphysics lies in its being able 
to be fleshed out with _specifics_ as to prior dispositions: a white couple who 
have a black child who matches their DNA, can be assured by science that it is 
their child and that the result is because there are 'black-skin genes' within 
the DNA of one of them. Who would have accepted that 200 years ago? Yet 
"implicature", with its paltrey explanatory power by comparison, would then 
have been easily accepted by many.

The Linguistic Turn Back


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