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

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 09 Aug 2010 14:41:50 -0000

Anscombe attempts to make clear the famously confusing 5.541 et seq. by
relating 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.) those 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 make 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 not 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.  But it seems
to me not only that Anscombe has forgotten the whole point of 5.541 and
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 gotten the explanations reversed.  (I speculate here that
maybe she got a couple of her 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-functional
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 also 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 used 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 can 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 and 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 to analyze,
viz., that aRb.  And, in fact, even if Griffin is incorrect, the
mirroring relation will be possible, since there is no particular
interpretation 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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