The Grice Club


The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Grice Fan Club


-- anyway, browsing stuff, I find "idols for Grice" were "Kant and Aristotle" which amused me. This is from the online encyclopaedia, with comments.

"Herbert Paul Grice was born and educated in England."

Harborne, Staffordshire.

"He taught at St. John's College Oxford until 1968, when he moved to the University of California–Berkeley."

"He taught there until his death. He published little until near the end of his life, but had a great influence through students and the wide circulation of unpublished manuscripts. His earliest work dealt with perception, but he subsequently moved to problems in language, ethics, and metaphysics. A concern with reason and rationality is a subtle thread which unites these investigations."

"His historical idols were Aristotle and Kant."

"One early topic was a defense of the causal theory of perception. This defense required separating the scientific or specialist's part of the task of analyzing perception from that of the philosopher. This distinction relies on an underlying notion of analysis closely related to the analytic–synthetic distinction for which Grice and Strawson provided a brief spirited defense. Three subsequent papers represent intricate attempts to define meaning using only common sense psychological concepts such as intention, belief, and desire. If this program is successful it would provide a more elaborate defense of the analytic synthetic distinction."

"Grice's best known and most influential contribution is the concept of a conversational implicature. A conversational implicature of an assertion is something that is conveyed to a thoughtful listener by the mode of expression rather than by the meanings of the words. These arise from the fact that conversation is normally governed by principles including cooperation, truthfulness, and informativeness, and that both parties are aware of these. The two best known applications of this concept are to perception and logic. Grice was concerned to provide an account of sense data discourse in terms of how things seemed to the perceiver. A common objection to this is that it is odd to say in a normal case of the perception of a table that it seems to the subject that a table is present. Grice's concept of conversational implicature can be invoked to explain the oddity as a result of the fact that a stronger statement can be made, thus leaving room for the seems statement to be true."

"The concept of conversational implication has been widely deployed in linguistics and artificial intelligence as well as in philosophy and is a continuing topic of research and debate. One major focus of discussion is the adequacy of the account when applied to quantitative statements, such as "John has two children." It is controversial whether this statement means that John has exactly two children, or whether it means that John has at least two children. In the latter case, interpreting an assertion of the statement as conveying that John has exactly two children is a matter of conversational implication."

"Grice also scouts the possibility of defending the claim that the logician's material conditional is an adequate representation of the indicative conditional of English by explaining the apparent divergence as a matter of conversational implicatures. If one knows the truth values of P and Q then one can make a more informative statement than P⊃Q, so the only conversationally appropriate use of P⊃Q is when the speaker does not know the truth of either component, but only that they are so connected that the truth of P guarantees the truth of Q. The appropriate conversational use of P⊃Q requires a connection that is not part of the truth condition of the compound. The main objection to Grice's approach concedes that his account squares fairly well with the assertion of conditionals, but points out that it does nothing to ameliorate the implausible fact that on the material conditional account, to deny "if P then Q" implies both P and ∼Q."

"Part of the definition of a conversational implicature requires that the hearer should be able to reason out the intentions of the speaker and in conjunction with the conversational principles to discern the implicit message. This places an important role on reasoning, especially inasmuch as in typical cases the reasoning is not conscious in the hearer."

"Grice devotes considerable energy to investigating rationality, reasoning, and reasons. Grice emphasizes that reasoning is typically directed to the goal of producing reasons relevant to some end in view. This intentional activity involves the ability to make reason-preserving transitions. Grice defines "reason preserving" analogous to the concept of "truth preserving" in deductive logic. A transition is reason-preserving just in case, for if one has reasons for the initial set of thoughts, beliefs, actions or intentions, then one does for the subsequent set as well."

"Grice uses this general account of reasoning to investigate moral reasoning and moral reasons. He emphasizes the connections between reasons, actions, and freedom. Strong rational evaluation—which Grice sees as essential to freedom—involves the rational evaluation and selection of ends, including ultimate ends."

"How do people choose ultimate ends? Grice answers that people should choose ends that have unrelativized value. Grice grants that the concept of unrelativized value requires defense. Typically, things have value only relative to ends and beneficiaries. A concern for the focus of relativization gives the value-concept a bite on a person; it ensures that the value-concept carries weight for that person. So how are people to understand unrelativized value?"

"Grice turns to final causation for a special kind of value. A tiger is a good tiger to the degree that it realizes the final end of tigers. Grice defines a good person as one who has, as part of their essential nature, an autonomous finality consisting in the exercise of rationality. Grice's philosophical psychology supports this conception of persons as end-setters. Freedom intimately involves the ability to adopt and eliminate ends. One does not (ideally) arbitrarily select and conform to ends; one does so for reasons. This makes being an end-setter an instance of unrelativized value; for to take a consideration as an ultimate justification of action is to see it as having value. Grice defines unrelativized value "in Aristotelian style [as] whatever would seem to possess such value in the eyes of a duly accredited judge; and a duly accredited judge might be identifiable as a good person operating in conditions of freedom." (Aspects of Reason 2001, p. 119) Of course, we are still talking about what is of value for and to persons. But the point was not to avoid this relativization; the point was to avoid relativization to this or that kind of person."

See Also

Aristotle; Conditionals; Kant, Immanuel; Perception; Rationality; Reason.


Works by Grice

The Conception of Value. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. A posthumous publication of the John Locke Lectures, delivered 1979.

Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989. A collection including most of the important works published during his lifetime.

Aspects of Reason, edited by Richard Warner. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. A posthumously published book exploring the nature of reasons and reasoning.

Grice, H. P., and P. F. Strawson. "In Defense of a Dogma." Philosophical Review Vol. 65 (1956) 141–58. A defense of the analytic-synthetic distinction, widely reprinted and discussed.

Works About Grice

Avramides, Anita. Meaning and Mind: An Examination of a Gricean Account of Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.

Cosenza, Giovanna, ed. Paul Grice's Heritage. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2001.

Davis, Wayne A. Implicature: Intention, Convention, and Principle in the Failure of Gricean Theory. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Grandy, Richard E., and Richard Warner. Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. A festschrift celebrating Grice's work, with a lengthy editorial introduction and a response by Grice.


Is Kant "Echoing Grice"?

Abstract for

"Kant's pragmatics"

by A. McHoul in the Journal of Pragmatics, online (vol. 25)

"In a recent issue of Journal of Pragmatics, Nerlich and Clarke (1994: 440) quote Searle (1984: 25) on the recency (hence the supposed ‘fun’) of speech act analysis. He says: “You can't go and find Kant's view on apologising or congratulating, as far as I know”. They go on: “We intend to show that one can go and find views on speech acts, such as orders or demands in the past, perhaps not in Kant himself, but certainly in the writings of some of his followers and contemporaries”."

"In this exchange Searle, Nerlich and Clarke all betray a fundamental ignorance of Kant's writing which I would like to correct, albeit briefly."

I have corresponded and met with both Brigitte and Searle -- so hey, here's for Grice.

Grice's Kant (Is: Abbott)

Further to the man who spoke Kant as Grice heard it:

From the wiki:

"Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (26 March 1829 - 18 December 1913) was an Irish scholar and educator. He was born in Dublin... He was one of a group of Irish scholars, including J. P. Mahaffy, who made significant contributions to the dissemination and study of the works of Immanuel Kant."

"His translation of Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason" remained the standard English version of the text well into the 20th century."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grice Without Oxford

-- No such thing!

The Way of Words in Locke and Grice

-- by JLS
-- for the Grice Club.

Then there's Locke -- MY CUP of tea. No iconoclast like Hume -- he wore a pretty wig, and he studied at Christ Church, Oxford.

One good thing about being a Student at Christ Church is that you can't but FAIL to be one. No such things as 'fellows' if you can conceive THAT!

The Most Griceian of Oxford philosophers -- other than Grice

-- by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club

-- would be William of Occam. In fact, that should spell "Ockham", as in Surrey. Alas, he was an 'inceptor', i.e. a dropped out. He made his fame in that infamous varity on the Seine, rather!

Kant and ordinary German!

--- by JLS
-- for the Grice Club

IT WOULD be obscene to press the Grice/Kant connection too strongly. After all, Grice was an "Oxford ordinary language philosopher". The only point of contact with Kant is in the 'philosopher' bit -- Kant certainly did not qualify as an ordinary-language philsopher. I'm not sure he would use ordinary language even with his servants (if he had one). And certainly he never taught at Oxford.

Apparently, Kant knew Oxford well, geographically wise. He was once lecturing on Geography, and someone was surprised that Kant could recite the names of all the towns along the Royal Thames from Greenwich to the Isis and the Cherwell.


Grice's Kant (Is: Abbott)

--- by JLS
-- for the Grice Club

I think it DOES sound academic: "Grice's Kant" -- as when I think Jonathan Bennett wrote on "Strawson's Kant".

The problem with Grice's Kant is that it was Abbott!

How Kantian Kant Grice Get

--- by JLS
for the Grice Club

--- THERE ARE ZILLIONS of stuff Grice left at the Berkeley library (well, not him -- his trustees) on "Kant". Enough to compile a book or two. In fact, some of it was co-written with Baker (Judy) and she is editing the "Reflections on morals" which, while not on Kant strictly, is so Kantian in spirit it hurts!

In the tradition of Kantotle


By J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club.

As J says, St Grice loved Kant -- 'the sense of freedom' he gave him. I never understood Kant. Neither his theoretical reason critique, nor his practical reason critique. I mean, I like Grice's exegeses, but I think Kant is NOT my cup of tea.

He was possibly a genius -- but, his German does not flow enough for me. I rather have Schopenhauer anyday!

Barry Stround on the synthetic a priori in Grice

Well, not quite. On Strawson (as per abstract below, from online source). But hey, Stroud was possibly Grice's best friend at Berkeley (after his five other best friends he had there: Davidson, Myro, and a few). Perhaps what Berkeley gave most to Grice was that brilliant PhD student, Canadian Judith Baker. We have to encourage her to publish all the (c) she holds of Grice's stuff!

This is Stroud -- when he says "Strawson", feel free to replace for "Grice". After all, they wrote a joint, "Defense of a dogma"!

Stroud writes that his essay

"deals with the project of

demonstrating the possibility of

conclusions with a distinctive metaphysical

status, both in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason,

which for its success depends on

the analytic-synthetic distinction, and

analogously in Strawson's Kantian project

that does not appeal to transcendental idealism

but which nevertheless exploits the notion of

a priori knowledge."

The essay

"identifies two conditions for the

possibility of propositions with a

distinctive metaphysical status."

"First, necessary conditions between

the possession of certain concepts or

conceptual capacities and others

can be discovered."

"Secondly, certain conceptual capacities

can be shown to be required for the

possibility of any thought or

experience at all."

"The distinctive status of these propositions ...

can be described without any appeal to

the analytic-synthetic distinction and without

supposing that if we know them, we know them a priori."


Stroud has discussed Grice's "Causal Theory of Perception" explicitly in his Scepticism book, and wrote the Berkeley memorial for Grice, online, along with Sluga and Neale. He also wrote the entry for Grice (with Strawson) in the Dictionary of National (British) Biography.

Kant, Grice, and the Griceians (Warnock, Pears) on the synthetic a priori

For the record, while Flew reprints most stuff in his collection:


Except for Warnock, 'Every Event has a Cause' " and D. F. Pears' "Incompatibilities of Colours", all the essays have been published before." -

Grice of St. John's, and Warnock, of Magdalene, track Kant's synthetic a priori

From an online source:

[PDF]Kant's Transcendental Problem as a Linguistic Problem
as 'whether synthetic a priori judgments are possible or not'; 'If they are .... I am indebted to Mr. G. J. Warnock of Magdalene College, Oxford, ... - Similar


Warnock will later become fellow of Hereford, and Vice-Chancelor of the thing (the varsity). He died in 1998, of cancer to the throat. There are piles from his joint seminars with Grice at the Grice collection, in Berkeley -- "The Grice-Warnock Retrospective", Grice entitled the thing.

Schematisms in Griceian Key

by JLS
for the GC

WARNOCK perhaps expressed better than anyone this 'linguistic' point which he obviously must have learned from Grice and from what he was experiencing in the 'revolutionary' movement of post-war Oxford. This is an early Warnock:

Transcendental Schematism and The Problem of the Synthetic A ...
establish a set of synthetic a priori judgments with respect to objects of possi - .... 5

G. J. Warnock,

“Concepts and Schematism”,

Analysis IX, 1949, pp. ...

"Every event has a cause": Kant, Warnock, and Grice, on the synthetic a priori

Some hits then. Note the reference to some sort of Popperian argument, and the point about being it hard to falsify, that truism.

Is to Abandon Determinism to Withdraw from the Enterprise of ...
2 G. J. Warnock, "Every Event Has a Cause," Logic and Language (Second. Series), A. Flew (ed.) pp. 96-7. 3 Ibid., pp. 97, 107, 110. 4- Ibid., pp. ...

[PDF] Logic and Language ...
G. J. Warnock's "Every Event Has a Cause." This volume is addressed in part at least to educated laymen, but it is doubtful that the subtle and technical ...

[PDF]A note on the Principle of causality
"'Every Event Has a Cause,'" G. I- Warnock argues that the sentence in. " " "ut- question cannot be used to assert anything: the Principle is vacuous, ...

[PDF]The cosmological argument and the principle of ...
to describe any circumstance that could show "Every Event has a Cause" to be false.

From the impossibility of falsifying "Every Event has a Cause" Warnock ...

[PDF]Logic and Language (Second Series). Edited by AGN Flew. (Basil ...
points, integers) provided by axiom-systems. Every Event Has a Cause by. Mr. G. J. Warnock and Incompatibility of Colours by Mr. D. F. Pears are ...

[PDF]Physical Determinism
the proposition 'every event has a cause'. I understand in this con- .... 1 Warnock has argued in favour of the view that the sentence makes a statement, ...

[PDF]TWO further contributions to the controversy touched off
of this system that it should cover the whole world " (p. 62). But compare G. J. Warnock,. ' Every Event has a Cause ' in Logic and Language II, ... - Similar

What is crucial to Warnock's argument is the transition ... affirming that every event has a cause no matter what occurred, ... -

"Every event has a cause": Kant, Warnock, and Grice, on the synthetic a priori

by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club.

WARNOCK was perhaps a genius -- I mean, he WAS a genius. He suffered a horrible death of cancer to the throat as perhaps not in the best 'reserved' way displayed publicly in interviews by his wife, Dame Mary Wilson Warnock.

He was a student of Grice -- Warnock was born in the 1920s, in Yorkshire (Leeds) and could harmonise so well with Grice that they loved each other philosophically. They have piles of material that awaits publication (Grice entitled the thing, "Forthcoming, Warnock retrospective"), but he died. I sometimes think that death does not like a philosopher.


Anyway, his attempt at the 'synthetic a priori' is in "Every event has a cause".

Warnock was Fellow of Hereford College. For one of those chances of life -- no cause really -- he was elected Vice-Chancelor (i.e. the main authority, only below the monarch) of Oxford. And things were never the same!

There was no blurb or promotion of Warnock that would not mention THAT fact, "Vice-Chancelor". And surely it's slightly obscene for a Vice-Chancelor to identify the implicatures of 'seem'.

Chapman, whom I love, refers to Warnock, 7 times in her book on Grice. It is all the time referred to as G. C. Warnock. But it was Sir Geoffrey JAMES. A very ENGLISH physiognomy. I must love the photo of his complete with bowtie in the blurb of his "Language and Morality". There is a youtube with Brian Maggee where they discuss Kant, and it's fascinating to focus on the stiff upper lip of Sir Geoffrey, as he considers what Kant thinks but Kant express about 'Every event has a cause'.


"Nothing can be red and green all over": Kant, Pears, and Grice on the synthetic a priori

by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club


"Incompatibility of Colour" was Pears's (a student of Grice's) attempt at the synthetic a priori, and winning!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grice's later thoughts on 'cause' ("Actions and Events", 1986, p. 32)

-- by J. L. Speranza
---- for the Grice Club.

While we consider the synthetic a priori and some of its alleged representatives ("Every event has a cause") consider Grice's points again using the Kiparskys's terminology ('factive'):

"Hume-type causation is FACTIVE, having [a] cause to is non-factive, and being the cause of one's own actin is factive, but factive in a very special way which is divorced from full predictability. We mght then say that the uses of 'cause' which are MOST GERMANE to action are either non-factive ('cause to') or only in a special non-predictive way factive (like 'x was the cause of x's A-ing'). We MIGHT also say that, in our preferred mode of conception, actions (like giving [Smith] a job) are non-factive, in that the performance of ths action does not guarantee that [Smith] actually gets a job. We might also say that, when a particular sequence of movements issues from, or flows from (in a typically unreflective way), an action which an agent has performed, and so realizes the action, the agent has caused-1, or is the cause-1 of, the movements in question."


Grice uses subscripts here: cause-1 and cause-2. What is cause-2?

His example:

"A gymnastic instructor is drilling a squad, and gives the order,

'Raise your right arm'"

-- "All the right arms are dutifully elevated. He then says,

'How many of you actually RAISED your right arm, and
for how many of you was it simply the case that your arm went up?'

Grice comments:

"The oddity of this question indicates that

raising the right arm involves NO DISTINGUISHING

observable or introspectible element: all the

squad-members were (to so speak) in the same boat,

and they ALL, in fact, RAISED their arms."


"What, then, is special about raising one's arm or about

MAKING any bodily movement? The answer is, I think, that

the movement is CAUSED by the agent in the sense

that its occurrence is monitored by him".

Cfr. Bayne on Anscombe.


Grice goes on:

"He is aware of what takes place and should something go wrong

or should some difficulty arise, he is ready to intervene

to correct the situation. He sees to it that the

appropriate movement is forthocming. We have then a

FURTHER interpretation of 'cause' ('cause-2'), namely

that of being MONITORED by us, in which we are

the cause-2 of the movements which we make."


To summarise:

Grice goes oN:

"We can distinguish" four stages:


---- "External, or 'transeunt', causation in INANIMATE objects, when an object is affected by processes in other objects."



"Internal, or 'inmanent', causation in inanimate objects,

where a process in an object is the outcome of previous

stages in that process, as in a 'freely moving' body."



"Internal causation in LIVING things, in which changes

are generated in a creature by internal features which

are NOT earlier stages of the same change, but independent

items like beliefs, DESIRES, and emotions, the function

(or finality) of which is, in general, to provide for the

GOOD of the creature in question."


Last but not least:


"A culminating stage at which the CONCEPTION

in a certain mode by a HUMAN creature of something

as being for the crature's good is SUFFICIENT

to initiate in the creature the doing of that thing."

He adds:

"At this stage, it is (or at least appears to be)

the case that the crature is LIBERATED not merely

from EXTERNAL CAUSES, but from all FACTIVE

causes, being governed instead by reasons, or

non-factive causes. It is at this stage that

rational activity and itnentions appear on the scene."


So, Grice has magically brought himself to build that needed bridge between the 'theoretical' Kant of the pure reason critique, and the 'practical' Kant of the realm of ends!

---- In THAT way, 'every event has a cause' ceases to look the analytic it did. Or not!

"Charles's decaptations willed his death" and other alleged absurdities (from Grice, WoW: 163)

-- by J. L. Speranza
--- for the Grice Club.

In revising what Grice is saying about the gloss, by pre-Humeans:

"Charles I died"

Surely this event had a cause. What caused Charles's death?

Let's be on the safe side and say, 'his decapitation'.

This renders:

"Charles I's death was caused by his decapitation".

Turning the causal agent (alleged) as topic-subject of the utterance, this yields (Grice, Way of Words, p. 162)

i. Decapitation was the cause of Charles I's death.


ii. Charles's decapitation willed his death.


Is this an ordinary thing to say? Grice doubts it. On p. 163 he writes to the effect that "it [has] NOT yet [been] established that [ii] IS an ordinary [expression]. But what?

As Grice notes, people all the time are uttering things which sound 'ordinary' and which yet are not necessarily, to use Grice's sobriquet, 'free from absurdity'. He gives

four examples:


"Tom is a very lucky person"

--- Grice's gloss: "'Lucky' ]is supposed to be] understood here as dispositional. This might on occasion turn ot to be a way of saying [the absurdity]:

----- "Tom is a person to whom what is unlikely to happen is likely to happen."


"Departed spirits walk along this road on their way to Paradise".

--- "it being understood that departed spirits are supposed to be bodiless and imperceptible").


"I wish I had been Napoleon"

----- "which does not mean the same as 'I wish I were like Napoleon'" -- this predates Kripke by decades! (The paper Grice dates 1953!)

--- Gloss: "I wish that I had lived not in the XXth century but in the XVIIIth century".


"As far as I know, there are infinitely many stars"

--- No gloss provided by Grice -- but he must having in mind the intuitionists's constructive universe.

Or something!

Grice on "seem" and "may be" (Ex)◊(ϕ x)

by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club

ONE THING to consider when discussing Grice's "Causal Theory of Perception" (perhaps his clearest case for 'conversational implicature') is what he calls the D-or-D (denial or doubt) 'implicature' in "seems" statements. His funny example. In broad daylight, of an object at a few feet from me, I say:

--- That British pillar box seems red to me.

(versus the stronger, 'it is red').

--- We have discussed the dictum elsewhere. What I want to consider is the connection, a loose one, between

x seems phi.

(as Grice symbolises the thing)



x IS phi


x MAY be phi.

-- a bother to symbolise.

Suppose I use the diamond.

--- The thing now is to provide an extensionalist (in terms of possible states of affairs or possible 'worlds') of

"the pillar box" -- call it "Box" -- SEEMING 'red' (call it phi)

The structure of

"Box is red"

(let us simplify)

would be

ix.(Bx & ϕx)

What about

"Box SEEMS red".

What I am submitting is that there IS indeed a doubt-or-denial implication -- but to what extent does this not overlap or connect with the 'entailment' of 'seems'.

For, what is to 'seem'. Surely there is a 'conceptual' connection between 'seems' and 'is'. Grice is claiming that 'seems' meaning "is not" or "may not" -- i.e. respectively denial or doubt -- we have to distinguish from an utterer implying that "seems" triggers "is not" or "may not".


His point is well taken. Surely there is nothing incompatible about something BEING perfectly phi for utterer and yet Utterer saying, "seems phi". I know some guarded speakers who think it's rude and ill-mannered to say things like 'know', 'certain', and 'is'. Things ALWAYS "seem" to them. (I think I am one of those persons).


The 'denial' is exaggerated. "x seems phi" implying "x is not phi". We do know of journalists who use 'seem' like that. "She seemed a bit intoxicated"? No. Not that case. Perhaps a journalist will be guarded enough and add, "only". "She only SEEMS to have forgotten the lines". No. That does not work.

What about 'doubt'? Doubt about what? The point of bringing in the 'diamond',


is to connect the 'seems' WITH the 'is'. "Seems" seems to be always short for "seems to be".

"The pillar box seems to BE red".

Now, -- the implicature point by Grice seems obvious now. He is surely saying that there is no easy entailment or analysis of 'seems' that will get rid of the 'is'. What he is claiming is that an analysis of the 'social' implication (i.e. in a context where we are constrained by making the strongest 'conversational' move, caeteris paribus) CONNECTS the 'seems' with a qualification of the 'copula'.

The case of 'denial' is too gross: 'S seems P' becomes "It is not the case that S is P" (at the level of the cancellable implicature only). But it also becomes "S MAY BE P" (at the same level).

Perhaps Grice, alas, took senses for granted all too often. There we have this delightful philosopher expanding on what things seem to us, and what we imply by thus saying, without giving us a detailed truth-condition of what the case actually IS when we do make such a guarded claim. Or not!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Every event has a cause": Kant, Pears, and Grice on the synthetic a priori

for the GC

We are discussing aspects of 'scientific revolutions' with J. I was challenged by J to prove that there is some ontological or cosmological factor behind a scientific revolution -- hence the Griceian key -- and not just 'politics' -- and we were discussing classical mechanics which led us to Kant on the synthetic a priori. As J has expanded on the particular truism,

"Every event has a cause"

we were wondering!

There is an essay by Pears in Strawson's "Philosophical Logic" (a symposium with the Aristotelian Society, as it happens). Pears practises 'linguistic analysis'. But can it "prove" the synthetic a priori? We don't think such an analysis can! It boils down to what H. L. A. Hart, referring to Baron Quinton's theory of punishment ("If we say he punished HER then she deserved it") as a 'definitional' stop.

Grice meant to include a discussion of the synthetic a priori in the Retrospective Epilogue to Way of Words -- the mimeos are in the Grice Collection at Berkeley. There is ONE example he quotes. Not, alas, the 'every event has a cause', but

"Nothing can be red and green all over"

Chapman notes that Grice had been interested in this since the early 50s, and I was fascinated to learn he would question his children's playmates about the truth of the truism: Can a sweater be red and green all over? No stripes allowed (Recollection by Mrs. Grice to Chapman, 2006).

Perhaps that's the way to go -- because the synthetic a priori, if built about our congition, must depend on our 'cognitive capacities'. (I write this when I was reading only yesterday that scientists have 'proved' that a foetus prior to 24 weeks can feel no pain!).

I was once fascinated to learn of the list of truisms that Nigel Morley Bunker used in his Master's dissertation at Lancaster, as cited by Sampson in his "Making sense". His approach is, again, survey-based -- but his informants are different. Morley Bunker explicitly AVOIDED philosophers: they had to be undergraduate in areas OTHER than philosophy, and they were treated to pieces of trivial pursuit like

Summer follows Spring.


Morley Bunker is considering the 'analytic', rather than the 'synthetic', but hey, this is all blurred!


The Griceian paradigm does not solve things too easily. There is a sense in which, if an analytic judgement is truly analytic it would be reducible to a "patent tautology", S is S, as in "Women are women" or "War is War" --. The exercise then, for those propounding that the synthetic a priori reduces to the analytic (on the one hand) OR the 'synthetic a posteriori' (the boring common-or-garden empirical things we say), is to proceed case-by-case.

"Every event has a cause".


First, how to symbolise it. What sort of quantification are we using? Substitutional, I gather. "Every (known) event has a cause". What is the logical form of "x causes y".

Quinton, oddly, worked on this. He was obsessed with complicating Strawson's and Grice's cosmologies. His "Times and Spaces", for example, argues that 'time' and 'space' are INDIVIDUALS ("That was some lovely time at the beach, no?"). Similarly, he has an address to the Aristotelian Society on "Objects and Events". It's OBJECTS AND events which exist -- he says predating Davidson.

Grice was never so sure. In his own "Actions and Events" he indeed goes on to mention people, atoms, electrons, and quarks as things which exist. But why add, with Davidson, 'events'? Grice notices that Davidson's 'diagnostic realism', based on scientific hypothesis rather than metaphysics hypostasis, will not be enough.

Grice argues that the logical form of things like "Every event has a cause" cannot ranger OVER events. We need the components of the event: the substantial types. It's the substantial types that 'embody' the causal powers. In the case of 'events' that matter to Grice ("actions") the issue is clear enough: it's the WILL that has the causal power. There is the substantial, "Human", with an embodied 'will' and it is the 'will' that causes the action. As he notes, 'cause' is indeed an analogical notion created out of the 'power of the will'. While 'cause-because' is ubiquitous, it is 'cause-to' that matters: final causality. As when we say, "A rebel WITHOUT a cause", i.e. without a cause to rebel.

It's less clear what sense of 'cause' can justify, 'every event has a cause'. In an early essay reprinted in "Way of Words" Grice laughed at the pre-Humean conception of cause. Hume, who was labelled the funniest philosopher before Quinton (by O'Grady, Quinton's obituarist in the Guardian) noted that

x causes y


x wills y

and that's animism galore. Grice proposes to elucidate this with a sample of historical wisdom:

What caused the death of King Charles I?

Surely his decapitation!

But surely it is similarly nonsensical to add that "Charles I's decapitation willed his death".

So what are we talking here?

Grandy and Warner were very right when they summed up Grice's philosophy in the acronym


For it's all about the


as they flourish in three concepts, and it's the middle one that deals with the 'alleged' synthetic a priori:

intention (or will)
the category
the end (final cause).

It all relates!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Happens in Oxford

--- Stays in Oxford?

for the GC

RECALL that these were NOT the days of multiculturalism! When Grice was directing the "Colloquium on British Contemporary Philosophy" at Oxford ("members of the colloquium will live at Brasenose" -- they don´t specify where they´ll die -- ah well). Grice was proud of his background. In his obituary, Geo. Richardson, a Glasgewian who is elsewhere described as "coming from a humble bakground" indeed instils this sort of "admiration" for a man who had had the best of public-school educations (Clifton), yet was -- well, accessible.

Warnock reminisces in "Saturday Mornings" how UNinterested they were in those days about publishing and stuff. The thing was to BE parochial. While Grice was engaged by the British Council to guide "overseas colleague" into the life and buildings of Oxford philosophy (!), he cared for the routine of weekly discussions. He loved an early evening seminar, and dwell with minutiae over this and that idiom. "How clever language is!" he told Warnock. Compare with the pessimism of Witters: "We are imprisoned by our lingo".

In those days, people had a renaissance education, and Grice was known as a "cricketer" in the North Oxford cricket club. He also led the Oxford Film Society ("The Third Man" and "The Secret Agent" were his favourite films and Norma Shearer his type of star), played bridge and stuff. None of the specialty we see today!

Consider Baron Quinton. He was the "voice" for the "linguistic movement", but there´s no way you´ll read something by Quinton on that that won´t also mention Witters. He was the Witters expert. Today, you need a P. M. S. Hacker to do just that!

Grice also saw the sort of "decline of privilege" in Oxford. In Reply to Richards he finds that Gellner and Bergmann were concerned that the "Establishment" had found a voice in a generation of "classics graduates" like Austin, Ryle, and Grice were -- these were the days before the "Philosophy, Politics and Economics" programme -- who had a capacity hardly shared by "hoi polloi". You would think: microbiology? ethnology? No way! Latin and Greek!

---- In those days, to quote too technical a piece of writing by a linguist (Grice cares to mention in "Reply to Richards" how he found Otto Jesperson (sic) "a man of the highest intelligence) was a no-no. As was to get a doctorate! As Quinton notes in his essay on "The Graduate School", doctorates were pursued at Oxford only by medics and theologians! (On the other hand, philosophy dons were just happy with keeping in touch with the old boys´ ties as their tutees joined the corridors of power in London -- vide his "Oxford in fiction" for a description of Powell´s Oxford-based novel). Imagine today! It´s tenure track and publish OR perish, where the disjunction is apparently EXCLUSIVE! Ah well.

Grice on "seem"

by JLS
for the GC

We were discussing some features of "seem" and "appear" as they appeared to Quinton in "The problem of perception". Consider,

"You seem to like it".

---- WHO seems?

Quinton is right. That sentence hardly represents an experience of sensation. It just means that YOU like it, I think. Recall that for Quinton things are VERY complicated.

I was thinking that since Grice distinguishes, elsewhere, between:

objective certainty ("it is certain that p")
subjective certainty ("I am certain that p")

the same may hold for "seem", with a vengeance. Oddly, Grice seems to have focused his attention on the D-or-D (as he called it, "doubt or denial") "implicature" of "seem", with a big caveat!

In 1961, he is wanting to say that the contrast between ii and i

--- The foetus does not seem to suffer from any pain prior to the 24 weeks (report in today´s daily).

--- The foetus does not suffer from any pain prior to the 24 weeks.

derives from ii being a STRONGer thing to say. He has not yet formulated the "pragmatic pressures", but something like that is already cited by Strawson as being credited to Grice in "Introduction to logical theory".

Now, in 1961, Grice has this caveat: Yes, we should make the stronger commitment, but -- how to define it? Entailment, alas, seems out of order, for a "seems" statement does NOT entail an "is" statement, or vice versa.

It is possibly due to this inadequacy of a criterion of STRENGTH that had him play with four categories, rather than just "strenght" (which would become "informativeness" or "quantity"). In this connection, the mid-lectures, on "Logic and Conversation", 1965, are an important thing to consider. In those lectures, Grice plays with two desiderata and two principles, between "self-love" and "benevolence", and between "candour" and "clarity". Genius!

To think that he was also leading the British Council in letting the world to know about the brilliancy of the Oxford philosophy of his day is a task!

Grice, of St. John´s

for the GC

If you see the "affiliation" for Grice´s "Meaning" (sent by Strawson to the Philosophical Review) you´ll read, "St. John´s" -- His "Mind" paper came out as coming from "University of Oxford", which makes slightly more sense. I mean: I love Oxford -- and it IS a city, rather than a varsity, but imagining the uniqueness of it all!

Grice had three Oxonian college associations: the first and best was indeed Corpus Christi, without which, no Grice. He had Hardie as tutor, which helped. Anyone more flamboyant would have destroyed Grice´s character! I was amused to see that Hardie was wanting to compete with J. L. Austin at a time. Oxford is VERY generational. If you belong to Hardie´s generation (or class) there´s NO WAY you say will have a say on Austin!

Then came Merton -- Grice was one of the first post-graduate fellows there -- and it was via the connection with Merton that he found a lovely wife! Merton is perhaps the best Oxford college! So prestigious it hurts. Plus, it´s so close to the heart of the bureaucracy that the Sub-Faculty of Philosophy represents that you feel "at home".

And then, he was elected in 1939 already! to a Fellowship at St. John´s. Since then, he lived in the premises provided by the College, not far from it, on Banbury Road, and he would frequent the two pubs ALSO owned by the College. I mean, who needs anything more?

---- Chapman comments that when Grice wrote to his wife, "Hey, I´m staying in the USA for good", she (the wife) was pretty surprised, and surmised that the reason was that, now in his 50s, he was seeing his-self or himself (as Kramer would prefer) as too old to do the summer cricket tours!


It was glorious that St. John´s made him an Honorary Fellow, since it was the St. John´s association that saw the best of him!

Grice directs Brit Council colloquium on "Contemporary British Philosophy"

by JLS
for the GC

The Note in Mind 1955 advertising for the colloquium directed by Grice is an interesting piece of history, I find. You see that Grice was already sort of becoming the representative of something "pretty British". By 1955, he had hardly published, although he was in his forties (that´s my man). "Defense of a dogma" was yet to come, as is "Meaning" and "Causal theory of perception". He had to his credit his excellent style and that little article in Mind for 1941. Note the description of the colloquium is going to be pretty much on everything! From metaphysics to epistemology -- and back. "No technical logical issues, please!", he adds, too. That´s my man! (Just teasing). By 1958 he was already giving international lectures on "Postwar Oxford philosophy" for Wellesey (of all places!) (That´s my man!).

I love the description of the colloquium: "participants will have a taste of the life and buildings" -- which reminds me: does the University of Oxford EXIST?

Grice directs colloquium, Sept.18-25, 1955, Brasenose, Oxford

by JLS
for the GC

From note in

Mind, 1955, vol. LXIV, p. 288:


"A Colloquium organised by the British Council at Oxford from. September 20th-25th, 1955."

"The Colloquium is intended to to provide a meeting-ground for overseas professors and lecturers in Philosophy and their British colleagues."

"The Director will be Mr. H. P. Grice, Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford."

"In order to ensure an intimate and informal atmosphere, membership of the Colloquium will be limited in size."

"This should encourage an easy and profitable exchange of views."

"The official proceedings will consist of two sessions daily (except for Sunday, 18th September, which will be a free day), one in the morning and one in the
early evening."

"Each session will open with an address, talk or paper given by a member of the Sub-Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford or by a representative of some other British university."

"This address will be followed by a full discussion."

"The sessions will be occupied partly with recent development of British Philosophy and philosophical methods, and partly with illustrations of these methods in the treatment of particular philosophical questions."

"The range of topics will include problems in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics; philosophical problems of logic (though not technical questions in formal logic) will also be discussed."

"The members of the Colloquium will live in Brasenose College."

"Opportunities will be found for informal and private philosophical discussions outside the organized sessions."

"Arrangements will be made to enable members to see something of the life and buildings of the University, and the programme will include the usual social activities."

"All enquiries about the Colloquium, including applications for membership, can be addressed to the nearest office of the British Council or to the Director of Courses Department, the British Council, 65 Davies Street, London W1Y 2AA."

Bring your implicature!

Yet another of Grice's students: North

for the GC

-- from the online obituary of North:

"After leaving Batley Grammar School, he

went up to Merton College, Oxford, to read

the subject and later took an external

degree in Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy

at London University. At Oxford, though, he

switched to Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and

attended lectures by Gilbert Ryle and the

seminars of JL Austin and HP Grice as well as

seminars on Logic by Peter Strawson and William Kneale."


From the wiki entry of this Cheltenham-born author:

"His first book was The Measure of the Universe: a History of Modern Cosmology (1965), which was praised as "a virtually complete history of modern cosmology"[1]."

"Not long after he started studying medieval science as he had been appointed librarian and assistant curator of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford."

"He wrote two books on mediaeval scientist and mathematician Richard of Wallingford."


The Measure of the Universe: a History of Modern Cosmology (1965)

Horoscopes and History (1968)

Richard Wallingford: an edition of his writings (1976)

Chaucer's Universe (1988)

Cosmos, a revision and expansion of his Fontana History of Astronomy and Cosmology (1994)

Stonehenge: Neolithic man and the cosmos (1996)

The Ambassadors' Secret: Holbein and the world of the Renaissance (2002)

God's Clockmaker: Richard of Wallingford and the invention of time (2005)

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Enough Of A Rationalist"

by JLS
for the GC

J was considering issues of empiricism, rationalism, and the synthetic a priori ("Revolutions in a Griceian Key", comments). I am reminded that in his famous "Logic and Conversation" -- the Grice that most people know -- Grice defines himself (if not his-self) as "enough of a rationalist". I always loved that phrase. So English! Try to say it in French! In the Romance languages, you cannot say "a" rationalist like that. "Enough" has a different structure in the Romance languages. In English, it strikes me as funny. He means he is Rationalist enough to... -- To what? Well, the context is very precise and I won't dwell on it here.

When I read Grice's "Reply to Richards", I was fascinated by a footnote. He is describing his temperament as that of a 'rationalism'. And the footnote expands that he feels like expanding that description to read, 'conservative, irreverent, dissenting rationalism".

So, what kind of rationalism was Grice's 'enough of a rationalist rationalism'?

Perhaps the clearest account is that of Taylor/Cameron in their rather elementary "Analysing Conversation": there's a chapter for empiricism -- of the type practiced by Sir E. Gardiner (of "The Theory of Speech and Language") versus a separate chapter of Griceian rationalism proper. While neither Taylor nor Cameron are philosophers (and thus use 'rationalism' rather differently) they hit in the head, one may think.


Back to J's point. The debate between empiricism and rationalism is not an easy one. So many distinctions at play. I tend to think of Grice as mainly an empiricist, an introspectionist, and perhaps a phenomenologist. The deeper he dwelt on those 'pragmatic constraints' of language and communication, the stronger he felt rationalism was the key. And he would later extend his 'rationalist' views to areas other than the philosophy of language.

With Baron Quinton it's all too different. Few other than Grice, in the generation of Oxford philosophers he belonged to, felt the need to show any serious respect for something as continental as rationalism! When you think that among the publications by Quinton we find an essay for "Victorian Studies" on "The Neglect of Victorian Philosophy" you may get my drift!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grice and Quinton in Warnock's collection

For the record, Quinton's "The problem of perception" was not just reprinted along with Grice's "The causal theory of perception" in Swartz's anthology, but also in the perhaps more influential, in Oxford, ed. by Warnock, The philosophy of perception.

For the record, too, Warnock was the Series editor of the Readings in philosophy to which that collection belongs, along with Strawson's "Philosophical Logic" (which reprints Grice's Meaning and Quinton's The apriori and the analytic) and Quinton's own "Political Philosophy".

Quinton, "Linguistic Philosophy", in Honderich

Honderich, Oxford Companion to Philosophy. A short survey, pp. 489-91, 1995. But a good synopsis of what Grice is all about.

Grice in Quinton's survey of "Analytic Philosophy" for Honderich, "Oxford companion to philosophy"

--- Quinton was a good surveyor. First-hand knowledge of things.
Oxford University Press, 1996.

Grice and Quinton on phenomenalism

Perhaps it was a good idea of Quinton's to address the noun, 'phenomenon' (Greek phainomenon, as popularised by Kant), in

Quinton, Anthony,

"The concept of a phenomenon,"

in Phenomenology and philosophical understanding, ed. Edo Pivcevic. Cambridge University Press, 1975, pp. 1-16.

Grice went on to see BOTH Phenomanalism and Physicalism as forms of Minimalism in his "Reply to Richards".

The open texture in Waismann, Grice, and Quinton

To consider.

But in any case, Quinton wrote an interesting introduction to

Friedrich Waismann, "Philosophical Papers," edited by Brian McGuinness. Vienna Circle Collection. Boston: Reidel, 1977.

Grice and Quinton on Ryle

Grice would quote from Ryle in "Prolegomena to Logic and Conversation". Quinton contributes to Wood's and Pitcher's influential collection of essays on Ryle with one on "Ryle on perception". Causalism compared to Ryle's type of behaviourism.

Grice and Quinton on Ryle

--- Ryle did NOT belong to the Play Group! He couldn't even if he had liked it. The rule was that anyone belonging to Austin's play group HAD to be younger than Austin. Ryle had been born in 1900.

But Grice (born 1913, and thus member of the group) showed an interest in Ryle -- a philosophical interest, that is. He cites him in "Prolegomena to Logic and Conversation" vis a vis "The concept of mind" -- Ryle's opus magnum.

Now, Quinton dedicates a whole chapter to a lovely collection edited by Wood and Pitcher on Ryle. (Wood IS cited by Grice in WoW, and Pitcher was an American student with Austin). Quinton's piece is entitled "Ryle on perception".

On the whole Grice, who will quote Ryle again in "Method in philosophical psychology" and elsewhere as he would reminisce on what was distinctive of Austin and the Play Group, saw Ryle as too much tied with a 'behavouristic' picture of the 'mind' (which Ryle saw after all, his claim to infame goes, as the ghost in the machine!).

So, what could he have said about 'perception'?

For Grice, the problem of perception is pretty easy. It involves the 'that'-clause. We perceive propositions:

i. It seems to me as though the pillar box is red.
ii. I perceive that the pillar box is red.
iii. I see that the pillar box is red.


Only ii and iii seem to be the target for Grice's analysis, because they feature what Grice would call 'subjective' perception. (Recall his distinction between objective certainty, "It is certain that the pillar box is red", and subjective certainty, "I am certain that the pillar box is red").


Quinton was able to approach Ryle on perception after having examined the area in his interesting "The problem of perception". The analysis of Quinton's phrases is worth examining:

iv. It appears that they are away.
v. They appear to be away.
vi. It seems to me that they are away.
vii. They are away, I think.

--- In "The Problem of Perception", Quinton focuses on 'appear', rather than 'seem', and as he notes, 'appears' is hardly used to report a perception. Quinton focuses on 'objective' appearance. I.e. the object is the object perceived:

viii. The pillar box IS red.
ix. The pillar box seems/appears red.


Grice and Warnock by this time were examining 'objectifications' of perception. Warnock famously came out with an essay on "What is seen".

Consider Macbeth's 'dagger'.


x. A dagger appeared to Macbeth.

Quinton finds otiose. Quinton wants to say that Macbeth did not really see anything. Grice did have a problem with this and needed to recourse to the idea of disimplicature. Allowing for

xi. Macbeth saw a dagger.

even if the dagger wasn't there to be seen -- but utterered felicitously only in the context where the addressee is aware of the fact.

Warnock and Grice were perhaps more interested in the qualia and subjective nature of perception than Quinton was. They notably coined the visum. Macbeth, after all, saw the visum of a dagger (Warnock, "On what is seen") -- but admittedly Grice and Warnock later found the concept pretty otiose, even if pointing to some disanalogy of 'seeing' over the other 'four' senses.


Now: to elucidate what a behaviourist like Ryle would say about this was a task! Congratulations to Baron Quinton!

Quinton with "The foundations of knowledge" in collection cited by Grice

-- In Prolegomena to Logic and Conversation, Grice refers to Williams/Montefiore, "British Analytic Philosophy" for the essay by Searle, "Assertions and aberrations". That excellent collection also features an survey and critique of foundationalism by Quinton, The foundation of knowledge. It may relate to Grice's point on the implicatures of 'know' in the third William James Lecture, where Grice considers a version of the 'causal theory'.

Quinton contributes ch. on "Contemporary British Philosophy" to O'Connor

--- O'Connor, "Critical History of Western Philosophy". The thing came out in 1964.

Good to compare with Grice's own reminiscences of the period.

Grice and Quinton on properties and classes

--- Another essay by Quinton which overlaps with some interests by Grice is Quinton's "Properties and classes" for the Aristotelian Society (1957), which has been reprinted in Kim's Metaphysics. Grice was concerned with Extensionalism as a bete noire and some of the points raised by Quinton resemble the caveats made by Grice qua ordinary-language philosopher

A. R. White quotes A. M. Quinton in his reply to H. P. Grice, "The causal theory of perception"

--- by JLS
------ for the GC

G. J. Warnock did a beautiful thing when he edited the whole symposium on "The causal theory of perception" held at Cambridge by Grice and White -- Grice first symposiast. The chair was Braithwaite. White is an Australian philosopher and he showed a lot of expertise in his reply to Grice --. Among other things, he cares to quote from Quinton!

--- The reference being to the sort of 'epoch-making', within the 'linguistic philosophy' trend, "The problem of perception" -- the causal theory of perception being, simply put, what the problem of perception, for Quinton, is.

Grice's Soul

by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club.

There is an online reference to "The soul of Anthony Quinton". The reference is to his essay, "The Soul", which is really on 'personal identity'. Quinton, perhaps unlike Grice, was a materialist, so it is intriguing that he would like to have titled his essay 'The soul'. Grice preferred to try to analyse "I" statements in terms of 'mnemonic states'. When Perry edited his "Personal Identity", the first three essays were: by Locke (the locus classicus), by Quinton, and by Grice. The order chosen was NOT chronological, since Grice's paper antedated Quinton's for quite a number of years.

It would be good to have an account of the ways in which Quinton's thing is supposed to supersede Grice's.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quinton defends Oxonian Grice versus outsider Gellner

-- by JLS
-- for the GC

Quinton wrote in his review of Ernest Gellner, "Words and things" in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:

"Both its style and its content show it
to a pamphlet rather than a fully-fledged
philosophical treatise."


"It is written in a none too orderly way."

"Its sociological excursions are marginally relevant."

"Mr. Gellner does not exert himself to identify
very clearly the precise object of his attack;
linguistic philosophy remains to the end a
pretty shapeless affair".

"He relies on stray journalistic lettings-down
of hair."

When he analyses a special case, the result is

"frivolous (...

"uses but not sentences refer"

(I have a terrible feeling I may have gotten the
phrasing of this latter idea wrong)")"


Revolutions in a Griceian Key

From Quinton, "From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein"

--- on the origin of modern science and its revolution:

Some commented excerpts:

Quinton writes:

"The scientific revolution which created the ['modern'] world is rightly described as taking place in the seventeenth century."

"Certainly the first signal achievement, the publication of Copernicus's heliocentric theory, occurred in 1548. But the main work was done in the following century. Copernicus's theory of the heavens was comparatively speculative, even if it benefited from improvements in observational astronomy which had come about in response to the needs of navigation. But the work of Kepler, Galileo and, culminatingly, Newton, was based on an altogether more exalted variety of empirical evidence about the movements of heavenly bodies."

One is reminded of Newton's "Hypotheses non fingo", a favourite motto of my teacher in early modern philosophy.

Quinton goes on:

"Galileo's main contribution was in mechanics, the mathematically formulated theory of the movement of matter, starting out from the study of projectiles and failing bodies. It lent support to the helio-centrism of Copernicus. So did Galileo's use of his improved telescope to discover imperfections on the sun and moon which undermined the old theory that the heavens are made of different material from the earth and are subject to different laws. Newton's Principia brought the movements of matter in the heavens and on the earth under a single scheme of laws which seemed to have attained an unimprovable completeness."

From cosmologia to anthropologia:

"The implication of seventeenth-century physics that the physical universe as a whole is a vast machine was extended to cover the human body. The first step here was Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, which was actually observed by Leeuwenhoek, who also used the microscope to observe micro-organisms."

--- Hypothesis and hypostasis:

"The central feature of these advances is that they involve the explanation of straightforwardly observable things by what is not straightforwardly observable. In some cases the unobserved explanatory factors turn out to be discoverable by instrumentally assisted observation — hitherto unknown planets by the telescope, spermatozoa by the microscope. In other cases the hidden factor is an
intuitively unobvious order which makes systematic sense of what appears at first to be a confused variety, as in celestial mechanics."

Apperance and reality:

"The lesson of these dey elopments is that the world is not what it appears to be. The earth is not at rest but is in axial and orbital rotation. And there is more to the world than there appears to be: the corpuscles that prefigure the developed atomism of nineteenth-century physics and chemistry and the micro-organisms that prefigure the cells of nineteenth-century biology."


"This, more or less ontological aspect of the scientific revolution is bound up with its most important methodological characteristic: the application of mathematics to natural fact embodied in the practice of exact numerical measurement. There were new mathematical developments which directly served the investigation of nature. Some of these were notational: Stevin's decimals and Napier's logarithms.
Others were substantive new disciplines: Descartes' analytic geometry, Pascal's probability theory and, above all, the calculus of Newton and Liebniz."

----- R. B. Jones has extended on the idea of Leibniz's 'characteristica universalis', elsewhere, which somehow prefigures Frege's conceptual script or notation.


"The general upshot was the idea that the essential determinants of natural happenings are the measurable properties of things, many of them beyond the range of unassisted observation, acting in accordance with mathematically formulated laws whose values are to be established by or inferred from observation and experiment.

The proof of the pudding:

"The immediate technological fruit was not so much productive as instrumental. The theory of projectiles was of use to artillerymen; the theory of chances to gamblers. But the primary technological application of the new scientific knowledge was in the production of instruments for the acquisition of further knowledge and not for
the Baconian purpose of the, relief of man's estate: accurate pendulum clocks, reliable compasses, telescopes, microscopes, barometers, thermometers. It was only in the eighteenth century that the absolutely transforming event of the introduction of steam power took place. The first steam engines were used to pump water out of mines and so enable immense new deposits of coal to be mined. Then came the use of steam to convey railway wagons and to drive textile machinery, which thus become independent of human muscles and a convenient supply of failing water. The development of mechanical power enormously accelerated in the nineteenth century. Oil supplemented coal as a source of steam. The petrol-burning internal combustion engine increased human mobility on land and in the air. Electricity was recruited to supply light, heat and, eventually, power. A scientific revolution in chemistry took place in the nineteenth century in close association with the development of the chemical industry, a process, beginning with synthetic dyes, that was soon to supply mankind with a host of new, artificial materials. Electromagnetic theory led to the discovery of radio waves with the result of enormously increased long-distance communication and, in due course, a major change in the human use of leisure."

The underlying principle: mechanism.

"The governing idea behind this complex of Western scientific and technological advances is that the natural world and everything in it is mechanical in character, that every natural process, from the Movements of the planets to the circulation of the blood, operates in accordance with mathematically formulated laws, which we must rely on observational or experimental measurement to establish."

The pre-moderns:

"Aristotle's physics was qualitative and unsystematic. It registered the evident distinguishing features of different natural kinds and classified them on the basis of their evident similarities. It could explain what happened sufficiently to
appease a curiosity that was not too penetrating by saying that things act as they do because it is their nature to do so."

"But if it was cognitively comforting it was practically useless since it was unable to predict."

"All action is directed towards the future. As agents we want to know what will happen if we do this or do not do that. Explanation that is not tied to prediction gratifies a merely contemplative appetite."

Plato, the mathematician:

"In the Renaissance the authority of Plato had been invoked to combat that of Aristotle. For the most part the effect of this revival of Plato was confined to the humanities. Dog-Latin, syllogistic logic and metaphysical theology were discarded for Ciceronian Latin, rhetoric and scholarly cultivation. It is an historical mistake, which many have absorbed from the Renaissance humanists, to suppose that the authority of Aristotle in the Christian West stretches right back to the beginning of the Middle Ages."

"Although a fragment of [Aristotle's] logic was available from the first, the main body of his writings did not come into the possession of the turopean West until it was retrieved from the Arabs from the mid-twelfth century onwards and that was after the deaths of the first generation of truly medieval philosophers: Anselm, Abelard, and Peter Lombard, compiler of the Sentences which became the formal basis of the bulk of later medieval thought."

"Before the recovery of Aristotle, medieval thought had been Platonic and, in particular, neo-Platonic. The Platonic dialogue most influential in the early Middle Ages was the Timaeus, Plato's Pythagorean cosmological speculation, which puts forward a mathematical conception of the world as fashioned by a Demiurge out of geometrical figures. For Plato [...], the physical world is not wholly real. All that is real, all that can be truly known, is timeless. [... T]he physical world, to the extent that it can be known, must be understood by pure mathematical speculation."


"The conscious opposition of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century to Aristotle's doctrine of the physical world received some impulsion from the fifteenth and sixteenth century revival of Plato. But the Pythagorean mysticism which holds that all that exists is made of numbers was brought down to earth by the idea that the numbers which matter are the measured characteristics of empirically observable things."

"It was a crucial moment in the process of deliverance from Platonism when Kepler was forced by his devotion to truth to admit that the planets move, not in perfect circles, but in elliptical orbits."

"The main thesis that I wish to propose is that [the character of modern science] can be attributed to [religion], in particular to the cosmological element, the general theory of the nature of the world, which in each case the ... religion embodies." "[Neo-platonic] Christianity ... accepts the reality of the sensible world: on the other hand, it affirms a supernatural order in which the omnipotent creator of the natural world is located, together with other spiritual beings, intervening in nature once he has created it by means of miracles and other revelations of his existence and purposes, and, most dramatically, by his
personal incarnation in it in human form."

"In the reverse direction, so to speak, the immortality of the soul is linked in Christianity with the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. One of the first heresies proscribed by Christianity is Gnosticism with its conception of the
natural world as evil, and although during the neo-Platonic phase of Christian theology the secondary, derivative, more or less minimal reality of the natural world is affirmed, it was never declared to be an illusion."

"Two aspects of the orthodox Christian cosmology serve as foundation stones for the great Western scientific constructions of the seventeenth century."

"First there is the idea of God as a rational intelligence setting his creation to work in accordance with a unitary scheme of intelligible laws."

---- Grice was fascinated by this and would literally "play 'God'", i.e. in his words: 'use 'God' as an explanatory device'. Notably in metaethics, this has come to be seen as the theory of the ideal observer. Grice preferred to call it the 'genitorial programme'.


"Secondly, there is the idea of God as something behind the perceptible surface of the world but constantly involved with it. Under these assumptions the sensible world is neither a chaos nor autonomous. It works in accordance with unobvious laws and the ultimate cause of what happens is also unobvious, hidden behind its perceptible surface."

"The scientific revolution naturalises these two notions: the underlying causes of what is perceived are not absolutely or metaphysically transcendental, but simply
beyond the reach of straightforward observation."


mental laws in accordance with which the perceptible world works
are not perceptible regularities, but laws of the behaviour of hidden
explanatory factors. Newton's first law of motion illustrates the
.second point: nothing that we perceive is in direct conformity with
it, nothing that we perceive continues permanently in the same state
of motion, since everything we perceive is subject to impressed forces
of some kind or other.

The three cosmologies — Confucian immanence, Hindu transcen-
dence and Christian dualism — correspond to three distinct attitudes
to the life of mankind on earth. For the Confucian, the right mode
of life is one of peaceful coexistence with nature, taking such conve-
nient advantage of it as one can, but for the most part
accommodating oneself harmoniously to it. For the Hindu, nature
is a kind of bad dream to which one should take up an attitude of
passive submission, principally concerning oneself while it lasts with
the search. for liberation from it, like a prisoner who does not seek
to make himself comfortable in jail, but is always preoccupied with
thoughts of escape. Indian magical beliefs are a marginal mitigation
of this cast of mind, like the unpredictable benevolence of a guard,
a chink in the system that leads nowhere beyond itself. For the
Western, nature is a field of opportunity, for adventure and enter-
prise, a gift to be made use of. The technological implications of these
attitudes hardly need to be set out in detail.

There is a final parallel which I shall mention briefly. In the history
of philosophical reflection on scientific knowledge three main
competing theories have been developed. The first of these, which
takes a formal deductive system as the ideal model of a science, rests
such knowledge on the rational intuition of axiomatic first princi-
ples. The second, instrumentalism, takes the theoretical elements of
science to be a kind of conceptual shorthand for propositions about
what can be directly perceived. The third, realistic doctrine, takes
scientific theory to be inferred but literal truth about the hidden, fine
structure of the physical world. Intuitionism, the doctrine of Plato
and Descartes, has an affinity with Indian assumptions about nature
and our knowledge of it. Instrumentalism, the theory of scientific.
knowledge of the pragmatists, and before them of Berkeley and Ernst
Mach, is Chinese in spirit. (So also is the practice of Aristotle, even
if in theory he shows his dependence on Plato by endorsing an
axiomatic theory of the nature of scientific knowledge.) Realism is
broadly the position of Locke in all its none too coherent good sense.
I must confess that I share the belief attributed to my distinguished
Oxford predecessor, H.A. Prichard: 'In the end, when the truth is
known, I think it will turn out to be not very far from the philos-
ophy of Locke.' Locke regards the hidden reality of the material
world as altogether too inaccessible and takes too subjective a view
of the direct objects of perception. But no major structural modifi-
cations are needed.

It could be objected to what I have been arguing that all I have
done is to show some rough general parallel between the cosmolo-
gies of Confucianism, Hinduism and Christianity on the one hand
-and, respectively, the sciences of China, India and the West on the
other. But I have surely wanted to claim more than that, specifically
that the religious cosmologies are causally related to the corre-
sponding bodies of scientific knowledge and belief. I do indeed want
to make that claim. The principal justification for doing so must be
that which must support any such claim: in each case the alleged
cause is precedent in time and contiguous in space to the alleged
effect. Together with the fact — and I have tried to make out that it
is a fact — of the near-identity of content between the cosmological
teaching of the religions and the operating assumptions of the corre-
sponding sciences, that ought to be enough.

But to prevent some possibilities of misinterpretation, some qual-
ifications must be made. In particular, I am not claiming that the
cosmologies are the sole and entire cause of the forms of science to
which they are connected, nor am I claiming that they are the indis-
pensably necessary conditions of the sciences that correspond to
them. My claim, in other words, is limited by acknowledging the two
factors called by Mill the complexity and the plurality of causes.

The cosmological assumptions I have picked out as causes are, as
is usual in such cases of explanation, each only one of the factors
which, in the circumstances of each case, had to be present for the
effect to ensue. There are plenty of societies with traditional religious
cosmologies which have not produced any science at all, nothing
even to be compared with the comparatively limited or partial scien-
tific achievement of the Chinese and Indian civilisations. Clearly
social factors must also be taken into account: stability, a degree of
prosperity to provide the requisite leisure for scientific work, some
urbanisation to provide for the development of a critical community
of investigators, a fairly substantial amount of literacy.

Some historians of thought, attracted to more or less Marxist
styles of historical explanation, have attributed the rise of modern
Western science to the existence of a confident and secure merchant
class, not preoccupied with politics and war, nor constrained by the
disciplines imposed by priestly status, their minds broadened by the


Wooster and Jeeves: The Griceian Conversations

Well, not really, but the table of contents of Baron Quinton's book on Wodehouse!

----- From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein, by A. M. Quinton.

Religion and Science in Three Great Civilisations 3
Philosophy as an Institution 23
Character and Will in Modern Ethics 39

Alien Intelligences 59
On the Ethics of Belief 78
Education and Damage Control 97
Reflections on the Graduate School 115
The Idea of a University: Newman's and Others' 131
The Idea of a National Library 154

The British Empire and the Theory of Imperialism 175
Property 194
Madness 213
Homosexuality 239

The Inner Life 255
The Divergence of the Twain: Poet's Philosophy and Philosopher's Philosophy 275
Books and Culture 293
The Tribulations of Authors 306
Wodehouse and the Tradition of Comedy 318
Wittgenstein 335
Index of Names 357

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Quintonian Way With Words

--- by JLS
for the GC

--- An amusing comparison of Bradley with Quinton -- vis a vis Hart, at

L. Zaibert in Law and Philosophy (2006) at:

"Bradley's manoeuvre is to say

that when punishment is NOT

retributively justified, as a matter of

definition, it is not punishment,

but an immorality. Protagoras's manoevure

is to say that when punishment is

not consequentially justified it is not

punishment, but 'mindless vengeance'. Both

manoevures are mere stipulations, and they

remind us of the sort of Quintonian

defense [On punishment, Analysis, 1954, vol. 14] against the charge that utilitarianism

could justify punishing the innocent, and

which H. L. A. Hart aptly dubbed 'the definitional

stop'(Punishment and responsibility, 1968, p. 1)".

What Grice and Strawson '[showed]' about the 'supposed circle' of intensional notions

by JLS
for the GC


For the record, Quinton explicitly quotes from Grice/Strawso 1956 -- No wonder the essay got well onto Strawson's collection! (Along with Grice, "Meaning"). So this is the THIRD volume that Grice shared with Quinton:

Swartz, which reprints Grice 1961 and Quinton, "Problem of Knowledge"
Perry, which reprints Grice 1957 and Quinton, "The soul"
Strawson, which reprints Grice 1948 and Quinton, "The analytic and the apriori"



"Grice and Strawson have shown that the supposed circle of intensional terms- synonymous, analytic, contradictory, etc.- which cannot be defined except in terms of one another" can in fact be shown not to be such a circle.


Eva Koktova writes entry for Grice in Encyclopaedia of Pragmatics

ed. by Mey.


Elsevier, pp. 1073-4.

"Some like Witters, but Grice's MY man"

-- by JLS
for the GC

E. Kittis quotes online from Quinton on Grice:

"There is a significant difference

between Wittgenstein's attitude to

philosophical puzzlement and that of

the Oxford philosophers of ordinary

language [Ryle, Austin, Grice]. For him

the relief was something he could

compare with psychotherapy; for them, more

breezily, it was a kind of brisk

mental hygiene."


"However, he and they agreed, on the whole,

that philosophy should NOT be systematic".

----- a good update on Grice's views on philosophy as entire (like virtue) and the listing of the disciplines he thought himself a master could have done with Baron Quinton!


Quinton goes on:

"but, rather, piecemal; it is not a body

of theoretical principles"

---- at this point I'm suspecting some antipathy. After all Quinton supported Ayer as Wykeham chair of logic while Austin, and Grice, supported Strawson. Ayer won.


"but rather a method of treatment to be applied as

and where the need for it is felt."

---- "The Listener", 1976, April 22, pp. 496)

cited in

This excellent author, E. K. has a beautiful PhD under Holdcroft on Grice -- she choses the right sources and has the right style.


Quinton snaps at Grice (p. 344 of The nature of things, 1973)

-- by JLS
---- for the GC

--- The online review of "The nature of things" discusses the 'snap' method by Quinton:

"Quinton's method is to survey the

arguments from a chosen range

of recent articles, and to conclude

with a snap decision, often

wittily expressed. Cynics may wonder

whether the wit will not be remembered

after the argument has been forgotten.

Snap decisions ... in which

Grice's theory of meaning (p.344) is

dismissed in one paragraph gives

the cynic's view some substance."

------ (Review of Quinton, in Mind 1976).

Grice and Quinton as 'causalists'

From Quinton, 'The problem of perception'.

The problem, Quinton states, is to provide the link

noumenal language ---> phenomenal language

After denying the 'conceptual link', he sides with Locke.

p. 525 of the Swartz reprint:

"The relation between
experiences and objects ...
is causal."


"It looks bent, but it is really straight" (Grice, 1961 -- and Quinton)


Further from Quinton:

"Consider that old friend,

the stick half in, half out,

of water. One might say of it

i. It is straight
ii. It looks bent but is really straight.
iii. It looks bent.
iv. It is bent.

Quinton's diagnosis:

"(i) is true."

"(ii) describes the stick correctly AND
points out how one might be led to make
a mistake about if if unaware of the
abnormality (a refracting medium) in the
conditions of observation."

"(iii) gives tentative expression to the
inclination mistakingly to believe (iv)
which is straightforwardly false."


""It looks bent" is the puzzling case. For it
may be a guarded way of saying 'It is bent' (denied
by 'It isn't bent') or a way of saying

(vi) Most people would be inclined to say
it was bent.

(denied by 'it doesn't') or a way of saying

(vii) It looks bent to me here now.

which can only be denied by (viii)."

viii. Oh surely not.


"So even when NOT used to give tentative
conclusions from evidence, the verb
'appear' and its cognates are seldom used
to describe experience, but primarily to
give tentative descriptions of objects."

Grice on 'implicatures' of 'seem' -- Quinton on its uses


From op. cit., p. 55 of Swartz's reprint of Quinton, The problem of perception.

"But there is another use of 'appear' in

which no reason can be given for statements

containing it, and which DO report observations."



" (iv) It appears to be green.

we might say of a distant house."


"If challenged we can repeat, or perhaps correct,

ourselves or protest,

--- (v) Well, that is how it appears to me.

But such a statement would normally be made

in answers to such questions as

--- (vi) What colour is that house?

and could be replaced by

-- (vii) It's green, I think.


-- (viii) It's green, isn't it?


"They report observations in a tenative

way where we know, believe, or suspect,

that the circumstances are unfavourable

to an accurate report, that there is

something wrong with, or

abnormal about, the conditions of



"They resemble ordinary categorical


---- (ix) The house is green.

in subject matter, but differ from

them in expressing inclinations to

believe rather than full beliefs."


"There is a THIRD use of 'appear', which

resembles the last one mentioned, in that NO REASONS

OR EVIDENCE can be given, for statements

containing it, but differs from it in that

certain conventional conditions of observation

are supposed to obtain, whether they do or not."


---- (x) It looks to me (here, now) elliptical.


"we say of a plate we KNOW to be tilted

and round, supposing it to be at right

angles to our line of vision."


"This statement answers the question (xi)."

--- (xi) How does it strike you, look to you, what exactly do you see?

"It is replaceable by (xii)."

--- (xii) There is an elliptical patch in the centre of my visual field.

"It is in this type of case ONLY that the description of
appearances and experience coincide."

-- Quinton.

Grice and Quinton on "seem": the implicature

From p. 54 of "The problem of perception", repr. in Swartz,

"Of some uses of 'appear', 'seem', etc. it is clearly
untrue to say that they figure in descriptions of

---- (i) They appear to be away.

said when the twice-rung door-bell of a house
with drawn curtains remains unanswered, means
much the same as

---- (ii) They must be away.


---- (iii) They are probably away.

We are not describing, but drawing conclusions from,
what we observe. The word 'appears' serves to
indicate that these conclusions are drawn with
less than full confidence. There is nothing
basic about them."



Grice on:

"The pillar box seems red to me."

Both Grice 1961 and Quinton, Problem of Perception, get reprinted in Swartz


For the record,

R. Swartz, Perceiving, sensing and knowing. A good thing about the Swartz reprint is that it is a complete version of Grice 1961, unlike the one in Grice's WoW, which omits the section on 'implication' which he thought was redundant vis a vis his later elaboration in the William James Lectures.

Grice and Quinton on Linguistic Analysis

by JLS
for the GC

Some commented excerpts from Quinton's "Linguistic Analysis" chapter in "Philosophy in the Mid-Century":

Quinton entitles the section:

"Philosophy as the Analysis of Language"

and comments:

"The kind of philosophy that is now dominant in [Oxford] has
taken many forms and been given many names."

Grice was amused by one such label, "Oxford School of Ordinary Language" -- or, let me check, "The Ordinary Language Approach to Philosophy" (WoW:170):

--- as this American 'philosopher of science' approached Grice as to whether such approach had 'anything to contribute to the Philosophy of Science'.

Quinton continues:

"Even if it would be more or less sincerely rejected as
a description of their views by many of the philosophers to whom
I shall apply it, the title 'linguistic analysis' is probably as
good as any."

Good implicature-free riposte.


"It has the merit of bringing out the two main

points of agreement, which add up to a genuine

community of method and aims, of an otherwise very

varied collection of thinkers."

---- Grice was fascinated by the diversity even within the bounds of the "Play Group": Paul, Urmson, Hart, Hare, Austin, Grice, Nowell-Smith, Gardiner, Pears, etc. -- and Quinton.


(a) Re: 'analysis':

"The word 'analysis' conveys their

idea of the proper object and purpose

of philosophical inquiries,

as opposed to constructive metaphysical speculation

of the traditional sort. For the analyst, philosophy

is not a discipline coordinate with or comprehensive of

the special sciences: it is an activity of clarification

directed on to the concepts and methods we employ

in these sciences and, indeed, in all forms of thought."

(b) Re: 'linguistic'

"The word 'linguistic', on the other hand, shows

what they see as the proper subject-matter of

philosophy. They recommend that philosophers

should attend to the use of language rather than the character

of the world as a whole or the nature of thought and knowledge."


"It could be argued that this recommendation is not
so far-reaching in its implications as at first appears,
that in fact it is no more than the proposal of a new
idiom for philosophical exposition, but, even if this
is correct, the change of idiom is sufficiently
revolutionary in itself to count as a major innovation."

--- Grice agreed that what happened in Oxford around the mid-century WAS revolutionary. Of course he would have held Ryle mostly responsible for it -- but the new generation that flourished in the post-war period was just as influential (Ryle, born 1900; Austin, b. 1911, Grice, b. 1913; Quinton, b. 1925).

Grice's ripostes


Again by O'Grady in the online obit. for Quinton in the Guardian. I'm sure Grice was capable of the wit repartee, too.

"The following year, a proposal that undergraduates should be

allowed to sleep with women undisturbed at weekends was

met with the objection that this was "the thin

end of the wedge".

"Better than the other," said Quinton."

The rooms of St. John's

--- The Guardian has Quinton as a 'funny' philosopher. He was New College. Grice was St. John's -- a rather more aristocratic one, with bigger rooms. O'Grady comments on Quinton on New College:

"Consulted in 1969 about concerns that male

undergraduates were cohabiting with women in

the college, Quinton ... declared,

--- "That is most unlikely, considering

the size of the rooms," and the

matter was laid to rest."


O'Grady cites Grice in Guardian obit. of Quinton

From online source:

J. O'Grady writes:

"In January 1943, Quinton went to

Christ Church, Oxford, on a scholarship, but

that August, aged 18, he joined the Royal Air Force

as a flying officer and navigator, returning

to finish his degree in philosophy, politics

and economics in 1946, and graduating with a

first two years later. All Souls College

made him a prize fellow in 1949, along with

Isaiah Berlin and Bernard A. O. Williams, but

turned down A. J. Ayer. In 1955, Quinton began

to teach philosophy at New College, and


---- soon

------ part of Ayer's seminal
discussion group, which also included Peter Strawson,
Michael Dummett and David Pears, and later Paul Grice
and Philippa Foot


Grice and Quinton on substance -- and things


H. Noonan writes of the 'treatise', "The nature of things" by Quinton, that it

"takes as its central notion
the concept of

----- substance."

Greek hypokheimenon. Cfr. hypousia. Aristotle's first category.

Noonan continues:

"By exploring the questions associated

with this concept Quinton develops, in

three parts, his views on a wide-ranging

set of traditional philosophical



"In part I, problems of identity and

individualism, the relation between matter

and extension,"

---- he has also written on "Times and Spaces"

"and personal identity and the soul

are discussed;"

--- His "The Soul", for the Journal of Philosophy, repr. along with Grice, "Personal Identity" as chapters II and III respectively of Perry. Ch. I being Locke.

"in part II knowledge, scepticism, and the concept of

perception are the topics;"

----- "The problem of perception", in Mind, being an early Quinton.

"in part III the notion of essence, the

distinction between theory and observation,

mind–body dualism, and fact and

value are discussed."


"The general position defended is a form

of materialism."

Grice and Quinton on necessary truth


For the record, Quinton's influential ("conventionalist") approach to the analytic -- "The analytic and the a priori" (Aristotelian Society) is reprinted in R. C. Sleigh, ed. Necessary truth: a book of readings: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

Grice was slightly concerned about uses of 'necessary'. "Necessary truth" he COULD digest, but further qualifications of 'necessity' he doubted. Notably: 'ichtyhological necessity' (in his Kant lectures, Grice 2001): do we need it?


Grice and Quinton on the analytic

by JLS
for the GC

This from "Dictionary of Philosophy", online.

-- A. M. Quinton, ‘The a priori and the analytic’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1963–4. repr. in Strawson, "Philosophical Logic", Oxford readings in philosophy, series editor G. J. Warnock.

Summary: "Distinguishes several senses of ‘analytic’ and rejects synthetic a priori for each of them."


Grice would never be so fast!

Grice and Quinton on personal identity, discussed by Perry in his introduction to his influential collection

--- by JLS
----- for the GC

PERRY did much to revive an interest in that old essay by Grice (Mind, 1941). In his vivid introduction, Perry makes some comparisons with Quinton's latter-day version. I will see if I can trace some quotes.

Quinton and Grice

by JLS
for the GC

While we look for further overlap, some more titbits on Lord Quinton, from online sources:


served WWII RAF;

1949-55: Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

1955-1978: Fellow of New College, Oxford.

1978-1987: President of Trinity College, Oxford. Since 1979 to 1982: member of the Arts Council of Great Britain. Since 1985 to 1990: chairman of British Library board. FBA: vice president from 1985 to 1986.

1991-2004: President of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.


Political Philosophy (ed, 1967 Oxford Readings in philosophy)
The Nature of Things (1973),
Utilitarian Ethics (1973),
The Politics of Imperfection (1978),
Francis Bacon (1980),
Thoughts and Thinkers (1982),
From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein (1998),
Hume (1998)

Some of his essays:
"The apriori"
"The problem of perception" (1955)
"Review of Gellner, "Words and Things"" for the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 1961.

Quinton's defense of Grice contra Gellner

by JLS
for the GC

--- THIS FROM USCHANOV's essay repr. in Croom Helm collection, available online -- which was discussed with him elsewhere:

Uschanov writes:

"Even philosophers who themselves thought that the

hegemony of [Ordinary Language Philosophy] needed challenging

were critical of Gellner’s abusiveness and unsubstantiated


"In the New Statesman, Alasdair MacIntyre stated that although Words and Things was "a splendid piece of philosophical polemic which nobody interested in the subject ought to ignore," it is "too terse and schematic to be convincing"; it was also a pity that Gellner did not extend his sociological analysis to the ulterior motives of Russell and his other allies (1959: 597–598)."

"Anthony Quinton, writing in the British Journal

for the Philosophy of Science, shared this last regret, while

devoting most of his long review to providing textual

counterexamples to Gellner’s specific accusations (Quinton 1961)."


Grice was fascinated by the reactions to ordinary language philosophy and he dedicates a passage or two to Gellner in "Reply to Richards". He also treasured Bergmann's labelling of the Play Group as the English Futilitarians.

Claims to knowledge -- Grice and Quinton

A. M. Quinton (1971). Authority and Autonomy in Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy of Education 5 (2):201–215.

vis a vis Grice's cursory remarks on a student KNOWING stuff, in WoW:iii -- and the impicatures and disimplicatures involved.

Quinton and Grice on Seeming

M. Quinton (1952). Seeming. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 26:235-252.

--- To compare with the analysis by Grice of the 'implicatum' of 'doubt-or-denial' vis a vis "x seems phi".

A. M. Quinton and H. P. Grice

Some hits towards a more complete checklist of Quinton's publications. His "The problem of perception" is vintage Mind 1955.

Anthony Quinton (1995). Book-Reviews. Mind 104 (413).

Anthony Quinton (1985). Schlick Before Wittgenstein. Synthese 64 (3).

Anthony Quinton (1979). Objects and Events. Mind 88 (350):197-214.

Anthony Quinton (1976). George Croom Robertson: Editor 1876-1891. Mind 85 (337):6-16.

Anthony Quinton (1970). The Bounds of Morality. Metaphilosophy 1 (3):202–222.

Anthony Quinton (1964). Matter and Space. Mind 73 (291):332-352.

Anthony Quinton (1962). The Soul. Journal of Philosophy 59 (15):393-409.

Anthony Quinton (1961). Words and Things: By Ernest Gellner. Gollancz. 1959. 25s. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 11 (44).

Anthony Quinton, Peter Alexander, L. Minio-Paluello & Richard I. Aaron (1959). New Books. Mind 68 (269):105-118.

F. N. Sibley, A. M. Honoré, B. F. McGuinness, R. G. Durrant, M. Dummett, J. W. N. Watkins, Anthony Quinton, A. C. Ewing & J. O. Urmson (1958). New Books. Mind 67 (268):560-576.

Richard Robinson, N. S. Sutherland, Marshall Cohen, Anthony Quinton, Peter Alexander, Colin Strang, R. F. Atkinson, C. H. Whiteley & H. G. Alexander (1956). New Books. Mind 65 (260):558-576.

Anthony M. Quinton (1955). The Problem of Perception. Mind 64 (January):28-51.

G. H. von Wright, H. J. Paton, Anthony Quinton, H. B. Acton, R. J. Spilsbury, S. Körner, Bernard Mayo, G. J. Warnock, W. H. Walsh & Mary Warnock (1953). New Books. Mind 62 (248):557-576.

Anthony Meredith Quinton and Herber Paul Grice

Quinton, born Kent, 1925 -- Grice's junior by 12 years. (Grice born Staffordshire, 1913).

From the Daily Telegraph obituary of Lord Quinton:

"Quinton went up as a scholar to Christ Church, Oxford,
graduating with a brilliant First in Philosophy, Politics
and Economy, after which he became a Fellow of All Souls. In
1955 he was appointed fellow and tutor of New College."

"It was an exciting time in philosophy, as Quinton later
recalled in a review of Tom Stoppard's philosophical play

Quinton said,

""Philosophy was much more in the public eye then
than it is today."

--- the public eyes, as I prefer. I cannot see how the public can have stereoscopic vision with only one eye. I mean, if we are going to mix a metaphor (Just teasing).

""The austerities and consequent boredom of the war
and the years that directly followed it awoke an
appetite for intellectual self-improvement from
which philosophy, along with a lot of other things, benefited. There
were philosophers about able and willing to catch the
attention of a large public audience: Bertrand Russell and AJ Ayer and poor old 'Professor' Joad, who never reached that rank, but was at least lively and colourful."

---- I suppose the most 'popular' Grice got was
had his "Metaphysics" lecture read for the Third
Programme of the BBC, later edited by D. F. Pears,
The nature of metaphysics.

"That has all rather petered out."

----- Hyperbole! There'll always be the dreaming spires!

"Quinton's impatience with solemnity, his delight in puncturing intellectual pomposity, and his sense that there is no intellectual problem so serious or terrible that it cannot be made the subject of a witty after-dinner speech (he was proud of the fact that his first book, The Nature of Things, contained no footnotes) made him much sought-after as a tutor."

--- Somone should footnote that, sooner or later.

Recalling tutorials with T. Lawson: "Instead of the usual business of submitting the pupil to Socratic questioning, it was the other way round. He put me on the spot and I don't mind admitting it."

As a member of the board of the British Library, he was responsible for the new building.

"When the Prince of Wales observed that the new building looked

"nothing like a library",

Quinton dismissed his remarks as "unreflective", pointing out
that no building looks like a library from the outside."

---- which IS true. Perhaps the Swimming-Pool Library does, but then it's ALL outside. I must say that the Boedlian looks more like a ... Boedlian.


We should be able to discuss some of his views at the Grice Club. I think there are two main areas of concern:

1. Quinton's work on the apriori. I used to like to say that if the Americans had QUINE refuting the dogma, the Oxonians had QUIN-ton restituting it. His "A priori" was nicely reprinted from the pages of the Aristotelian Society by Sir Peter Strawson in his "Philosophical Logic" (Oxford readings in Philosophy).

2. "Causal Theory of Perception" -- Hamsphire and Quinton would attend Grice's seminars in the philosophy of perception, so one would need to doublecheck this.

3. I was recently reading, to provide commentary in another forum, CHORA, some fragments of an essay by Quinton on "Madness" for the Royal Institute of Philosophy. He makes the extraordinarily good point that the PHILOSOPHICAL point about madness has to do with Kant and Descartes -- in something like the lack of the apperception of the cogito. I may retrieve the fragments.

I expect he wrote tons of things. The Daily Telegraph focuses on the book form things:

"Quinton's notably lucid books on philosophy and the history of philosophy include

The Nature of Things (1973);

The Politics of Imperfection: The Religious and Secular Traditions of Conservative Thought in England from Hooker to Oakeshott (1978);

Thoughts and Thinkers (1982); and

Utilitarian Ethics (1973), a classic study acknowledged to be the most reliable introduction to its subject."

"He also wrote acclaimed studies of thinkers such as Francis Bacon and David Hume, edited the anthology

Political Philosophy (1967)

[Bayne's favourite]

and wrote

From Wodehouse To Wittgenstein (1998), a collection of essays applying philosophy to political and social questions."