[lit-ideas] stop the press

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2015 07:26:55 +0000

Two strains of Grice's dna were found in southern Mongolia

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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

In a message dated 9/16/2015 5:27:43 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx refers to "Pears' narrow Oxbridge-focused
discussion" of Russell.

Pears must have been influenced by Grice.

After all the barbarities that Russell said against Strawson (Grice's tutee),
Grice still thought that Russell was right about that example Russell uses in
"The Philosophy of Logical Atomism".

i. The king of France is not bald.

An example that no doubt Russell took from the Hegelians only to later pour
scorn of them ("For the Hegelians, who like a synthesis, the king of France
must wear a wig.") for it was Bradley who, with better taste, did not mention
the Republic of France, but Utopia.

Bradley writes:

ii. The king of Utopia did not die on Tuesday.

This, Bradley says, "may be safely contradicted, and yet the denial must remain
ambiguous. The ground may be that there is no such place, or it never had a
king, or he is still living, or though he _is_ dead, he died on Monday."

In "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism", Russell wants, like Grice, to analyse
"the" corpuscularly: it is not a PRIMITIVE 'logical' atom, and the iota
operator (used by Whitehead and Russell, from Peano) can be defined in terms of
the universal quantifier and the 'identity' symbol, which is itself not a
primitive but definable in smaller 'logical' atoms in virtue of Leibniz's law.

Russell writes:

iii. There is such a person as the King of France and that person is not bald.

Grice liked that. In spite of what Russell said against Strawson in "Mr.
Strawson on denoting", Grice thinks that a "Russellian" approach to 'the'
solves the issue introduced by Strawson when he brought (influenced by Quine)
that monstrosity of the truth-value gap into the picture.

In "Definite descriptions in Russell and in the vernacular", Grice takes
Strawson to be speaking the vernacular (as he is) while Russell to be speaking,
typically, Russellian.

Both Russell and Strawson are of course, wrong, but the Grice is right, for
what Russell sees as entailment is a mere implicature. For this, Grice uses
square parentheses, where (iii), as used by Russell in "The Philosophy of
Logical Atomism" becomes:

iv. [There is such a person as the King of France and] that person is not bald.

i.e. the existence of the king of France is regarded, conversationally, as a
non-controversial conversational topic that has attained 'common-ground

So back to McEvoy's "Pears' narrow Oxbridge-focused discussion" of Russell",
you may lay the blame on Grice!*

Pears updates the Griceian treatment by bringing in the new theory of reference
-- and the ideas of rigidity in designation, a logical atom that totally
escaped Russell's otherwise powerful microscope -- as expounded by Putnam and
Kripke, inter alii -- he fails to mention Ruth Barcan Marcus, granted!



* In "Prejudices and predilections, which become the life and times of Paul
Grice", Paul Grice recalls with affection his joint work in the philosophy
of action with D. F. Pears, and Pears was one of the first (reference
below) to use in print the full phrase 'conversational implicature' to suggest
that, when discussing 'ifs and cans', as Austin had done, we should never
forget that 'if' sometimes invites the conversational implicature, 'iff'.


Pears, D. F. Ifs and cans. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 1.

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