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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Thursday, October 31, 2013

H. P. Grice and H. L. A. Hart on defeasibility


There is a new book on the topic. I think I first came across the connection between Grice and defeasibility in a fascinating paper by Grice entitled "Defeasibility". It was cited by Levinson ("Pragmatics", Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics). It turned out that Levinson was misquoting from a mimeo by Grice entitled, "Desirability", rather. Ah well.

I had read Baker's contribution to the PGRICE symposium and found it properly obscure ("Alternative mind styles"). This is the late American philosopher G. P. Baker, who succeeded Gric as Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy at St. John's, Oxford. I later learned that Baker was a specialist in festschrift contributions and that he had written one on "Defeasibility and meaning" for a Hart symposium.

I think Hart was Grice's senior, so this post should be entitled Hart and Grice on defeasibility. Or not!

Below the table of contents on the notion.

Of course 'implicature' is defeasible, and the concept very easily (shall we say, proudly?) allows for a formalisation!


------ (ps. Indeed! Hart, b. 1907; Grice b. 1913. They never quite met in the pre-war Oxford, since Grice was merely a 'scholarship boy' from the (West) Midlands, and Hart was pretty rich, and associated with the All Souls 'play group' of J. L. Austin on Thursday nights. Grice never knew of this group. "I had obviously been born on the wrong side of the tracks", he would later regret, :)). Yet, give me the idylic West Midlands countryside any day! Hart, some say, later ceased to be a philosopher, when he just dedicated to _law_; for, as Grice says, "philosophy, like virtue, should be ENTIRE"!


Defeasibility in Philosophy

Knowledge, Agency, Responsibility, and the Law


Edited by Claudia Blöser, Mikael Janvid, Hannes Ole Matthiessen & Marcus Willaschek


Rodopi Amsterdam/New York, NY 2013. VI, 257 pp. (Grazer Philosophische Studien 87)

ISBN: 978-90-420-3761-8                      Paper

ISBN: 978-94-012-1011-9                      E-Book


Defeasibility, most generally speaking, means that given some set of conditions A, something else B will hold, unless or until defeating conditions C apply. While the term was introduced into philosophy by legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart in 1949, today, the concept of defeasibility is employed in many different areas of philosophy. This volume for the first time brings together contributions on defeasibility from epistemology (Mikael Janvid, Klemens Kappel, Hannes Ole Matthiessen, Marcus Willaschek, Michael Williams), legal philosophy (Frederick Schauer) and ethics and the philosophy of action (Claudia Blöser, R. Jay Wallace, Michael Quante and Katarzyna Paprzycka). The volume ends with an extensive bibliography (by Michael de Araujo Kurth).


Table of Contents


Claudia Blöser, Mikael Janvid, Hannes Ole Matthiessen & Marcus Willaschek: Introduction

Michael Williams: Knowledge, Ascriptivism and Defeasible Concepts

Klemens Kappel: Knowledge, Defeasibility, and the Gettier Problem

Mikael Janvid: The Challenges of Traveling without Itinerary: The Overriding Case

Hannes Ole Matthiessen: Entitlement and Public Accessibility of Epistemic Status

Marcus Willaschek: Strawsonian Epistemology. What Epistemologists Can Learn from “Freedom and Resentment”

Claudia Blöser: The Defeasible Structure of Ascriptions of Responsibility

R. Jay Wallace: Comment on Claudia Blöser “The Defeasible Structure of Ascriptions of Responsibility”

Claudia Blöser: Reply to Wallace

Katarzyna Paprzycka: Can a Spasm Cause an Action? An Argument for Responsibilist Theories of Action

Michael Quante: Autonomous by Default. Assessing “Non-Alienation” in John Christman’s Conception of Personal Autonomy

Frederick Schauer: On the Open Texture of Law

Michel de Araujo Kurth: Selected Thematic Bibliography of Work on Defeasibility in Philosophy and Related Disciplines

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grice stood wih Aristotle and Kant -- (and reviewed their contributions in terms of 'contemporary logic') but then there's Plato and Hegel...


This note, worth reading, appeared in Clark's PHILOS-L list today:

"My book THE DIALECTICAL METHOD (Prometheus, 2012) has not been reviewed,
to my knowledge, by any Hegel scholar who also knows symbolic logic.
Formal logicians are usually unable to judge my translation of dialectical
logic into qualification logic using indirect proof and quantification
over property variables: they do not know Hegel enough judge the
correctness of the translation. And Hegel scholars usually do not know
symbolic logic enough, or are allergic using it to make Hegel clear.
Anyone who might confirm the core of the book or teach me something is

It may be worth revising indeed Hegel, and why not the source of it all, Plato, in the light, if not Lukasiewicz, at least, Carnap, or Quine -- as read by Strawson and Grice, of course!

Ariskant and Plathegel


There was this delightful note in today's "PHILOS-L", a philosophy news list adminitered by S. Clark.

It read:

"My book THE DIALECTICAL METHOD (Prometheus, 2012) has not been reviewed,
to my knowledge, by any Hegel scholar who also knows symbolic logic.
Formal logicians are usually unable to judge my translation of dialectical
logic into qualification logic using indirect proof and quantification
over property variables: they do not know Hegel enough judge the
correctness of the translation. And Hegel scholars usually do not know
symbolic logic enough, or are allergic using it to make Hegel clear.
Anyone who might confirm the core of the book or teach me something is

So I was thinking.

We have Grice's KANTOTLE -- or Ariskant (he used both). And we have Plathegel.

I thought it would be a good idea to review this book, "The dialectical method".

After all, Hegel got it from Plato.

A good 'history of logic' that comprises Plato and Hegel and is written (or co-written) by a Platonist and/or Hegelian scholar SHOULD help!

I loved the author's idea of 'using indirect proof and quantification over property variables'.

And I hope that his note is properly considered when he looks for the reviewer he is looking for.

Hopefully, whatever he is 'taught' he will share!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Herbert Paul Grice and Arthur Coleman Danto


Arthur Coleman Danto (January 1, 1924 – October 25, 2013) was an American art critic and philosopher. He is best known for having been influential, long-time art critic for The Nation and for his work in philosophical aesthetics and philosophy of history, though he contributed significantly to a number of fields, including the philosophy of action. His interests included thought, feeling, philosophy of art, theories of representation, philosophical psychology, Hegel's aesthetics, and the philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer.
DANTO: Born: January 1, 1924 in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Died: October 25, 2013 (aged 89) in New York City
Era: 20th-century philosophy
Region: Western philosophy
School: Analytic
Main interests: Philosophy of art, Philosophy of history, Philosophy of action
Notable ideas: Narrative sentences,  Basic actions, End of Art, Post-historical Art, Indiscernibles
Influenced by Hegel, Merleau-Ponty, and H. P. Grice
Influenced: George Dickie, Noël Carroll, and H. P. Grice

Danto was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, January 1, 1924, and grew up in Detroit.

After spending two years in the Army, Danto studied art and history at Wayne University (now Wayne State University) and then pursued graduate study in philosophy at Columbia University.[

From 1949 to 1950, Danto studied in Paris on a Fulbright scholarship under Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and in 1951 returned to teach at Columbia.

In 1992 he was named Johnsonian Professor Emeritus of Philosophy.[1]

Danto laid the groundwork for an institutional definition of art that sought to answer the questions raised by the emerging phenomenon of twentieth-century art. The definition of the term “art” is a subject of constant contention and many books and journal articles have been published arguing over the answer to the question, What is Art? Definitions can be categorized into conventional and non-conventional definitions. Non-conventional definitions take a concept like the aesthetic as an intrinsic characteristic in order to account for the phenomena of art. Conventional definitions reject this connection to aesthetic, formal, or expressive properties as essential to defining art but rather, in either an institutional or historical sense, say that “art” is basically a sociological category. In terms of classificatory disputes about art, Danto takes a conventional approach. His "institutional definition of art" considers whatever art schools, museums, and artists get away with, regardless of formal definitions. Danto has written on this subject in several of his recent works and a detailed treatment is to be found in Transfiguration of the Commonplace.[2]

The essay "The Artworld" in which Danto coined the term “artworld”, by which he meant cultural context or “an atmosphere of art theory,”[3] first appeared in the Journal of Philosophy (1964) and has since been widely reprinted. It has had considerable influence on aesthetic philosophy and, according to professor of philosophy Stephen David Ross, "especially upon George Dickie's institutional theory of art. Dickie defines an art work as an artifact 'which has had conferred upon it the status of candidate for appreciation by some person or persons acting in behalf of a certain social institution (the artworld)' (p. 43.)"[4]

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Danto's definition has been glossed as follows:

something is a work of art if and only if
(i) it has a subject
(ii) about which it projects some attitude or point of view (has a style)
(iii) by means of rhetorical ellipsis (usually metaphorical) which ellipsis engages audience participation in filling in what is missing, and
(iv) where the work in question and the interpretations thereof require an art historical context. (Danto, Carroll)

Clause (iv) is what makes the definition institutionalist. The view has been criticized for entailing that art criticism written in a highly rhetorical style is art, lacking but requiring an independent account of what makes a context art historical, and for not applying to music."[3]




The basic meaning of the term "art" has changed several times over the centuries, and has continued to evolve during the 20th century as well. Danto describes the history of Art in his own contemporary version of Hegel's dialectical history of art. "Danto is not claiming that no-one is making art anymore; nor is he claiming that no good art is being made any more. But he thinks that a certain history of western art has come to an end, in about the way that Hegel suggested it would."[5] The "end of art" refers to the beginning of our modern era of art in which art no longer adheres to the constraints of imitation theory but serves a new purpose. Art began with an "era of imitation, followed by an era of ideology, followed by our post-historical era in which, with qualification, anything goes... In our narrative, at first only mimesis [imitation] was art, then several things were art but each tried to extinguish its competitors, and then, finally, it became apparent that there were no stylistic or philosophical constraints. There is no special way works of art have to be. And that is the present and, I should say, the final moment in the master narrative. It is the end of the story"[6]

Arthur Danto was an art critic for The Nation from 1984 to 2009, and also published numerous articles in other journals. In addition, he was an editor of The Journal of Philosophy and a contributing editor of the Naked Punch Review and Artforum. In art criticism, he published several collected essays, including Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990), which won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for Criticism in 1990; Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992); Playing With the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe (University of California, 1995); and The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000) and Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life.


In 1996, he received the Frank Jewett Mather Award for art criticism from the College Art Association.[7]


He was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[8]


Danto died on October 25, 2013, in Manhattan, New York City.[1]



Danto is the author of numerous books on philosophy and art, including:
Nietzsche as Philosopher (1965)
What Philosophy Is (1968)
Analytical Philosophy of Action (1973)
Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge
Sartre (Fontana Modern Masters, 1975)
The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1981)
Narration and Knowledge (1985) - Including earlier book Analytical Philosophy of History (1965)
The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1986)
Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy (1987)
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective (1992)
Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (1997)
After the End of Art (1997)
The Abuse of Beauty (2003)
Red Grooms (2004)
Andy Warhol (2009)
"The Artworld" (1964) Journal of Philosophy LXI, 571-584
The State of the Art (1987)
Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present (1990)
Playing With the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe (1995)
The Wake of Art: Criticism, Philosophy, and the Ends of Taste (1998)
Hegel's End-of-Art Thesis (1999)
Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (1999)
The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (2000)
The Body/Body Problem: Selected Essays (2001)
The Poetry of Meaning and Loss: The Glass Dresses of Karen LaMonte (2005)[9] Karen LaMonte
Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life (2007)
Architectural Principles in the Art of Sean Scully (2007)




1.^ Jump up to: a b c d e Johnson, Ken (October 27, 2013). "Arthur C. Danto, a Philosopher of Art, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
2.Jump up ^ Danto, Arthur (1981). The transfiguration of the commonplace: a philosophy of art. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-90346-3.
3.^ Jump up to: a b Adajian, Thomas. "The Definition of Art", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, London, Oct 23, 2007.
4.Jump up ^ Ross, Stephen David (1984). Art and its Significance. SUNY Press. p. 469. ISBN 0-87395-764-4. Note: Ross also refers us to Dickie's book Art and the Aesthetic (Cornell University Press, 1974).
5.Jump up ^ Cloweny, David W. (December 21, 2009). "Arthur Danto". Rowan university. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
6.Jump up ^ Danto, Arthur Coleman (1998). After the end of art: contemporary art and the pale of history. Princeton University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0-691-00299-1. As quoted by Professor David W. Cloweny on his website. [1]
7.Jump up ^ "Awards". The College Art Association. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
8.Jump up ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
9.Jump up ^ Danto, Arthur. Karen LaMonte: Absence Adorned. First ed. Tacoma, WA: Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art, 2005. Print.


Further reading:

Action, Art, History: Engagements with Arthur C. Danto: A collection of essays edited by Daniel Herwitz and Michael Kelly, including contributions by Frank Ankersmit, Hans Belting, Stanley Cavell, Donald Davidson, Lydia Goehr, Gregg Horowitz, Philip Kitcher, Daniel Immerwahr, Daniel Herwitz and Michael Kelly and replies by Danto himself.
Danto and his Critics (1993). A collection of essays including contributions by David Carrier, Richard Wollheim, Jerry Fodor, and George Dickie.
Danto and His Critics: Art History, Historiography and After the End of Art. An issue of History and Theory Journal where philosophers David Carrier, Frank Ankersmit, Noël Carroll, Michael Kelly, Brigitte Hilmer, Robert Kudielka, Martin Seeland and Jacob Steinbrenner address his work; includes a final reply by the author.
Tiziana Andina, Arthur Danto: Philosopher of Pop, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011
D. Seiple, "Arthur C. Danto," in Philip B. Dematteis, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography 273 (2003), 39-48


"Is it art?" - an interview with Alan Saunders of ABC Radio National (03/2006)
Biography Arthur C. Danto's Biography on Columbia University Website.
"Danto on Art" The Partially Examined Life - Episode 16 (podcast by interpreters without Danto participating)


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Categories: 1924 births
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grice's Stroke of the Pen -- the Inkhorn Grice


Michael Quinion, at

resurrects the 'inkhorn term'.

He writes:

"Some time ago, during a discussion on alt.usage.english about inventive spelling and obsolete words, I happened to use the phrase inkhorn term in one of my messages, which immediately caused a small flurry of “Er, what?” responses from other people."

The commentary here should relate this to Grice's "stroke of the pen" phrase in "Vacuous Names". Grice is concerned with the mere expression,

'whoever he should be',

as used following a proper (as it were), name.

"Bill, whoever he would be".

It can also attached a definite description:

"Smith's butler, whoever he might be".

Grice is dwelling with the referential/attributive uses of 'definite descriptions'. He prefers (while he does credit Donnellan) 'identificatory' versus 'non-identificatory'.

Quinion goes on:

"The phrase “inkhorn term” came into English in the early to middle sixteenth century, with the first attested usage dating from 1543. It was from the outset a term of gentlemanly abuse, referring to words which were being used by scholarly writers but which were unknown or uncommon in ordinary speech. (The word derives from the then standard name for the container in which ink was stored, originally made from a real horn; later, when this term had itself become obsolete, it was sometimes rendered as inkpot term). Thomas Wilson wrote this in fine fulminating mood in 1553, in his Arte of Rhetorique."

"Among all other lessons this should first be learned, that wee never affect any straunge ynkehorne termes, but to speake as is commonly received: neither seeking to be over fine or yet living over-carelesse, using our speeche as most men doe, and ordering our wittes as the fewest have done. Some seeke so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language. And I dare sweare this, if some of their mothers were alive, thei were not able to tell what they say: and yet these fine English clerkes will say, they speake in their mother tongue, if a man should charge them for counterfeiting the Kings English."
Quinion adds: "Many of these inkhorn coinages were used only once and gained no currency at all among other writers. Others gained some brief acceptance but then vanished again. Some examples of words which never made it into the modern language: anacephalize: to recapitulate, adnichilate: reduce to nothing, annihilate, exolete: disused, obsolete; effete, insipid; faded, fatigate: to fatigue, illecebrous: alluring, enticing, attractive, ingent: immense, very great, and obtestate: to bear witness, call upon as witness."
Quinion gets critical when it comes to inkhorn terms:

"The objection to inkhorn terms was a largely irrational and emotive reaction by conservatives against the sudden increase in English vocabulary derived from classical sources which was taking place at this time. Writers were experimenting with the language, importing and inventing terms to meet their needs, basing most of them on Latin, with some from Greek and other languages. Though many of their inventions and adaptations proved unsuccessful, large numbers of others which linguistic Canutes like Wilson objected to did gain a permanent place and are still in use today. Thomas Wilson illustrated his argument through an letter (assumed invented) from a Lincolnshire man to the Lord Chancellor which he felt contained many words which would be strange and obscure to the ordinary reader. These are the examples in that letter which have defied his censure and for which we would be the poorer if he had prevailed (I’ve modernised the spellings): ingenious, capacity, mundane, celebrate, extol, dexterity, illustrate, superiority, fertile, contemplate, invigilate, pastoral, confidence, compendious, relinquish, frivolous, verbosity."

Quinion concludes his note:

"Why some new words survived while others languished or died out is a question nobody seems able to answer. Some were certainly jaw-breaking monstrosities that could never become anybody’s favourite words; others merely provided elevated alternatives to existing words, like deruncinate, “to weed”, but these could hardly be the only causes of words being shunned. Else why would commit and transmit become common, but the shorter demit be replaced by dismiss? Why did impede catch on but not expede? Why did emacerate lose out to emaciate but emancipate survive?
Whatever the reason for success or failure of new words, this extraordinary period of inventiveness and adaptation enriched English with many hundreds of new terms. Here are a few more derived from Latin and Greek that came in during the Renaissance: absurdity, adapt, agile, alienate, anachronism, anonymous, appropriate, assassinate, atmosphere, autograph, benefit, capsule, catastrophe, chaos, climax, conspicuous, contradictory, crisis, criterion, critic, disability, disrespect, emphasis, encyclopaedia, enthusiasm, epilepsy, eradicate, exact, excavate, excursion, exist, expectation, expensive, explain, external, extinguish, fact, glottis, habitual, halo, harass, idiosyncrasy, immaturity, impersonal, inclemency, jocular, larynx, lexicon, lunar, monopoly. monosyllable, necessitate, obstruction, pancreas, parenthesis, pathetic, pneumonia, relaxation, relevant, scheme, skeleton, soda, species, system, temperature, tendon, thermometer, tibia, transcribe, ulna, utopian, vacuum, virus."


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grice's Dossier


Adapted from a brochure:

"The concept of a 'dossier', introduced by Grice in "Vacuous Names" (a tribute to Quine), has been used to theorize about a wide range of topics in the philosophy of mind and language, from the referential-attributive (or identificatory and non-identificatory, as Grice prefers) use of definite descriptions or the cognitive significance of identity statements (as Evans did), to the problem of cognitive dynamics and the nature of singular thought."

"In the seventies, neighbouring notions were introduced in linguistics to deal with definiteness, anaphora, and information structure."

"Shortly thereafter, object-files were postulated in cognitive psychology, first as part of models of mid-level object-directed attention in adults, then in theories of cognitive development, based on the hypothesized continuity of a core system of object-file representation from infancy to adulthood."

"It is not unreasonable to hope that researchers who invoke dossiers in various disciplines are zeroing in on a psychological natural kind."

"Still, there are important differences between the various uses to which the notion of a dossier is put, and more empirical and conceptual work has to be done before any unification can be attempted."

"Our main goal shoud be to bring together philosophers, psychologists and linguists in order to advance our understanding of mental files, as that notion is used in philosophy and throughout the cognitive sciences."

"We encourage submissions focusing on the conceptual foundations of the mental file framework, as well as submissions exploring the connections between appeal to mental files in philosophy and in empirical disciplines. Scientific work addressing foundational issues and philosophical work engaging in detail with recent scientific research is particularly welcome. All submissions should aim towards being as accessible as possible to a wide, multidisciplinary audience. Among the possible topics to be addressed are the following."

"Which phenomena in perceptual and developmental psychology are best explained by the idea of a dossier?"

"Are there different types of dossiers Are some files ‘descriptive’, and others ‘demonstrative’ or ‘indexical’?"

"Do we have specific files for the representation of kinds or sorts? For events, places or times? For the self?"

Does the file model accurately describe our cognitive architecture? Does neuroscientific evidence support this model? How does it relate to others, such as the language of thought hypothesis, etc.?

How is our mental filing system or mental ‘encyclopedia’ organized and how does it function? What formal tools (e.g., graphs) are appropriate for modeling its operations?

Which linguistic phenomena (such as implicature) can be better understood thanks to dossier? Are files needed to explain information structure, anaphora and semantic coordination, definiteness, discourse reference?

How does the postulation of files contribute to the theory of content?

Should modes of presentation be conceived of as mental files?

Do files satisfy various constraints on different types of content, e.g., transparency, publicity, generality?


Evans, "Varieties of References"
Grice, "Vacuous Names".
Urmson, "Intentionality", Aristotelian Society.