[quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 17:51:15 -0000

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "gabuddabout" <gabuddabout@...>
> --- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "walto" calhorn@ wrote:
> >
> > Thanks, Neil.  I generally agree with your view that use isn't
*completely* constitutive of meaning, but, whatever W's position might
be on that, Quine's and Davidson's are quite clearly in favor of there
being nothing else to meaning but various behaviors (or dispositions to
them).  I'm curious as to how the orthodox Quinean/Davidsonian might
reply to Fodor's attack--or if he's really done them in.  Does the Fodor
argument rely on synonymy?  If so, they'd certainly sneer at that...
> >
> > W
> As pragmatists, maybe they already bit the bullet on having a
psychology, like Davidson.
> Fodor may be thought as simply pointing out that BCP is out of the
running as a theory offering insight into psychological processes that
might be studied piecemeal, as Fodor suggests we do, critiquing Dennett
for too much programming too soon.
> Perhaps Quine actually agrees with Fodor but says, "So what?  I
already 'did myself in' by becoming a pragmatist on the issue."  Like
Putnam, maybe there is not a proper sense to give to the idea of the
identity theory of mind with bona fide mental events.  Come to think of
it, as Morgenbesser had it:  Pragmatism only works on paper!
> Fodor simply is unmoved.  He has mental events.  They are part of the
natural order.  So they ought to be amenable to some scientific
investigation.  If they are not, one needs an argument.  And the
argument may need an analytic/synthetic distinction that, as Fodor notes
the poet said, we have not got.  Fodor points out that all of Putnam's
arguments in _The Threefold Cord_ are a priori_.  So that's how Putnam
would respond.
> Quine?  He probably agree with Fodor and, like Fodor, hasn't a clue
how to proceed given BCP.
> So much for the options.
> How to square Searle's "The Background of Meaning" with Fodor's views.
That there is a Background doesn't militate a priori on a possible
psychology of concept possession Fodor-style, whatever that is--but it
is not BCP.
> Cheers,
> Budd
Quick quote from Davidson, from the "Reply to Quine" in his Hahn

"Perhaps the most important thing [Quine] taught me was that there can
be no more to the communicative content of words than is conveyed by
verbal behavior.  This seems obvious to many people: "meaning is use",
quoth Wittgenstein.  The idea is obvious, but its full force is still
mostly unappreciated or misappropriated.  Misappropriated by those who
would convert any typical purpose served by uttering a sentence into a
kind of meaning.  Unappreciated by those who treat Wittgenstein's slogan
as gesturing at a way of discovering a meaning already embedded in an
expression.  What wants emphasixzing is not that use points the way to
preexisting meanings, but that it creates, and so constitutes, meaning.

"If one holds this clearly in mind, there is every reason to accept, and
no reason to reject, Quine's indeterminacy of translation.  Since all
there is for the translator or interpreter to get right, even given all
possible evidence, is what supervenes on causal interactions among
speakers and the events and objects of their world, it is not surprising
that there are many ways to capture this complex structure in the home


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