[quickphilosophy] Doubts about Anscombe on 3.1432 and 5.541-5.542.

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2010 10:29:46 -0700 (PDT)

Anscombe attempts to make clear the famously confusing 5.541 et seq. by 

it to the also famously mysterious 3.1432.  Here are the two props in question:
5.541 At first glance it seems as though there is another way in which a 
proposition can occur in another.  Especially in certain propositional forms of 
psychology, like "A believes that p is the case" or "A thinks p" etc.  Here it 
seems superficially as though the proposition p stands in a kind of relation to 
an object A. (And in the modern theory of knowledge (Russell, Moore, etc.) 

propositions have been understood in just this way.)
5.542 It is, though, clear that "A believes that p" "A thinks p" "A says p" are 
of the form "'p' says p": And here it is not a question of a coordination of a 
fact and an object, but rather of the coordination of facts by way of the 
coordination of their objects.  

3.1432 "The complex sign `aRb' says that a stands in the relation R to b." No, 
not that, but rather "That `a'stands in a certain relation to `b' says that 
According to Anscombe, since, in order for "p" to picture p, the prop and fact 
must have the same form/multiplicity, that is the key point W was trying to 

here.  "[W]hat was cler to him was that for anything to be capable of 
representating [sic]the fact that p, it must be as complex as the fact that p; 
but a thought that p or a belief or statement that p, must be potentially a 
representation of the fact that p (and of course actually a representation of 
it, if it s a fact that p)….'A believes p' or `conceives p' or `says p' must 
mean `There occurs in A or is produced by A something which is (capable of 
being) a picture of p'
She then relates the two props back to 3.1432 which she claims to be "really 

particularly obscure" if we only note that writing `a' and `b' in different 
colors won't do the trick that relating the two `signs' to each other does.  

it seems to me not only that Anscombe has forgotten the whole point of 5.541 

5.542 here (which is to deny that one prop can occur inside another without 
there being a truth-functional relationship between the two), but to have 

the explanations reversed.  (I speculate here that maybe she got a couple of 

conversations with W mixed up.)
First, noting that for "p" to picture p the object and sign must share a 
multiplicity/ form does not help explain the non-truth-functiona l relationship 
between "p" and "A believes that p." What I think would do that is pointing out 
that "'p' says that p" is not an empirical but some sort of conceptual truth.  
(And interestingly, she spent a good chunk of time and trouble discussing and 
defending Reach's critique of Carnap on this very matter.  I note that it's 

something that Martin and I have discussed in the past at Analytic Borders, 
where Martin has cleverly suggested that a term might be both mentioned and 

at the same time.)  Using a different name for p than "p" simply produces 
different results than using "p" does.  [See Reach's "The Name Relation and the 
Logical Antinomies" Journal of Symbolic Logic (1938)].I don't claim that one 

get "A judged that p" from "'p' says that p" based on this, but I do think both 
that it's clear that utilizing a non-empirical prop was the point of 5.542-3 

that Anscombe ought to have realized this, based on her attack on Carnap.

Secondly, it seems to me that the real point of 3.1432 IS to require the 
isomorphism that Anscombe instead discusses with respect to the other two above 
props.  That is "a stands in the relation R to b" would seem to have precisely 
three names, while it is unclear and controversial how many the sign "aRb" has. 

But that a stands in a certain relation to b, leaves open Griffin's 
interpretation of nothing but a and b configured, and so does what it is said 

analyze, viz., that aRb.  And, in fact, even if Griffin is incorrect, the 
mirroring relation will be possible, since there is no particular 

of the "R" as a name or non-name in either the analysans or the analysandum of 
W's preferred analysis. However we take the form of the one will be consistent 
with the form of the other, since both are rather plastic.


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