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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kaarlo Jaakko Juhani Hintikka and Herbert Paul Grice: Implicature as a Game


Kaarl Jaakko Juhani Hintikka was born in Vantaa, Helsinki, Finland.

Hintikka studied mathematics with Rolf Nevanlinna and philosophy with 
Georg Henrik von Wright at the University of Helsinki where defended his 
doctoral dissertation on distributive normal forms.

So we see the cross-reference mathematics -- as per mathematics logic, that
today, for example, is taught at Oxford not within the Sub-Faculty of
Philosophy  but across the street, so that people enrolled in disciplines other
than  Philosophy can attend. The chair is called "Mathematical logic" -- and

Grice loved Wright and he borrowed from him (but never returned) the word 
'alethic'. That Hintikka was inspired by these two people (and these two
fields:  mathematical logic and philosophy -- moral theory --) to write his
essay on  'distributive normal forms' is interesting.

Geary commented: "A distributive normal form is not as normal as it 
seems," and adds with sarcasm: "especially if you catch it  undistributed!".

After his Ph.D. studies Hintikka worked as junior fellow at Harvard  and
became (independently of Stig Kanger) the founder of possible world 

The keyterm is Leibniz, as in Leibniz's world: the best of all possible 
worlds. Woody Allen (who wrote "Irrational man") and Barrett (who wrote 
"Irrational man") have something to say about this, because Leibniz is concerned 
with the "best" (morally best) of all possible worlds and Lucas (the
character  in Allen's film fallaciously thinks he has discovered it!). Hintikka's
treatment  is more abstract: he uses subindexes w1 w2 w3 wn to represent
each world.  Thus

"All man is rational"

is true in all possible worlds if for any world n, man is rational.

Hintikka published his groundbreaking work "Knowledge and Belief" on 
epistemic logic -- the semantics of which is 'possible-worlds'. He uses now two 
dyadic operators:

B(A, p)


K(A, p)

to represent that A believes and knows that p respectively. He liked to 
play with 'paradoxes' like

K(A, p) --> KK(A, p)

i.e. if you know that God exists, you know that you know that God  exists.

Hintikka was appointed professor of Practical Philosophy at Helsinki -- 
which was a good thing since, having been born there, he never got lost! In 
fact, he moved not far from the house where he had been born. And a nice
house  it was, too!

Hintikka later became professor of philosophy at Stanford -- which is  a
bit away from Helsinki, if just more or less at the same distance from the 
beach (different beaches, admittedly).

Stanford, with Hintikka, Patrick Suppes and Dagfinn Föllesdal, and the 
programme initiated by Grice "Hands across the Bay" from across the Bay in 
UC/Berkeley -- became one of the leading centres of philosophy of science and 
philosophical logic, if not conceptual analysis: Urmson and S. N. Hampshire 
also taught there.

Hintikka’s new interests included inductive logic and semantic information.
He would say, "What's the good of a philosopher if you don't have a new 

He shared his time between Stanford and Helsinki for a while.

Later Hintikka started his work with D. Reidel’s Publishing Company (later 
Kluwer Academic Publishers) in Holland as the editor-in-chief of the
journal  "Synthese" and the book series "The Synthese Library" -- which Geary
calls  "hardly synthetic".

This activity made Hintikka the most influential editor of philosophical 
works. In fact, he was co-editor of a festschrift, as it were, for Quine, who
had written "Words and Objections". This came out in Reidel as Words and 
ObjectIONS -- what's the good of a philosophical theory if you are not going
to  criticise it, as Joaquin Phoenix says in "Irrational man"? -- and they
invited  H. P. Grice to contribute. Grice took his time -- which delayed the
publication  of the thing -- and Hintikka was strict with deadlines -- but
eventually the  thing came out with Grice's "Vacuous Names" in it, and a
short reply by Quine  crediting Grice's brilliancy.

Hintikka was appointed to a Research Professorship in the Academy of 
Finland which allowed him to establish a research group of Finnish scholars 
working mainly in logic, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and 
history of philosophy.

The Academy of Finland owes its name to the Academy of Athens founded by 
Plato. Most countries have Academies: Greece first, then Rome, then Italy,
then  France. Then Finland. Even Britain has its academy and Grice was
appointed FBA  in 1966 but he delayed the deliverance of his philosophical lecture
for the  British Academy to 1971, when he came up with "Intention and
Uncertanity": a  parody on Hart and Hampshire's 'slightly ridiculous' claims in
their joint essay  for "Mind" on intention and certainty.

As a teacher and supervisor, Hintikka was highly influential though the 
richness of his new ideas and research initiatives.

Many of the former students of Hintikka have been appointed to chairs in 
philosophy. To wit: Risto Hilpinen, Raimo Tuomela, Juhani Pietarinen, Ilkka 
Niiniluoto, Simo Knuuttila, Veikko Rantala, Juha Manninen, Lauri Carlson,
Esa  Saarinen, Matti Sintonen, Gabriel Sandu.

Lauri Carlson wrote a Synthese Library essay on "Dialogue games" -- the 
ideas will be later developed by Hintikka himself in his contribution to P. G.
R. I. C. E., the Grice festschrift edited by Grandy and Warner.

Hintikka divorced his first wife Soili.

Hintikka married Merrill Bristow Provence -- Mrs. Hintikka willl later 
co-edit with Vermazen a festschrift for Davidson and they invited H. P. Grice
to  contribute. He did with a brilliant essay on 'akrasia'.

Hintikka and Provence were appointed at Tallahassee, Florida.

Hintikka married Ghita Holmström.

Hintikka became philosophy professor at Boston -- not far from where  he
had been a fellow in the next town -- when he was in Harvard, Massachussets 
-- He would walk from Boston to Cambridge, and back, as he seemed to prefer
the  bookshops in Cambridge than those in Boston.

During his Boston pewriod, Hintikka resided in a 'cottage' (as 
non-New-Englanders call them) at Marlborough.

Marlborough was not named after the person -- via rigid designation -- but 
after the borough.

Hintikka retired from Boston and moved back to Finland.

Besides his activities in research, teaching, and publication, Hintikka 
served in many important positions in international organizations, among
others  vice president of The Association for Symbolic Logic, vice-president and
later  president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of
Science  of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science
(DLMPS/IUHPS),  president of the Charles S. Peirce Society -- D. Ritchie was
mentioning this  genial philosopher recently -- and the chairman of the
organizing committee of  the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy.

As a proof of the appreciation of Hintikka’s work, a volume dedicated to 
him in "The Library of Living Philosophers" was published.

Hintikka’s publications cover an exceptionally wide range of topics.

During his career he published lots of books or monographs, edited lots of 
books, and authored lots of essays in international journals or 

His main works deal with:

-- mathematical logic (proof theory, infinitary logics,  IF-logic)
-- intensional logic and propositional attitudes
-- philosophy of logic and mathematics
-- philosophy of language (game-theoretical semantics, quantifiers, 
-- philosophy of science (interrogative model of inquiry)
-- epistemology, and
-- history of philosophy (Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Peirce, Frege, 
Wittgenstein, Grice -- in the P. G. R. I. C. E. festschrift).

A genius.

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