Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wessy Thoughts

I take it from today that the whole issue of "The Objection from Cognitive Significance" has been satisfied. I'll just note something interesting (to me). Consider CI Lewis' notion of a sense-meaning. So the sense-meaning of a red apple is the sensory states I have in the presence of a red apple. Let's not over-think this now, since the view is robustly concept empiricist and not too attractive. But we can re-run the argument:

1. If Russellianism is true, and ‘Ice-T’ and ‘Tracy Lauren Marrow’ co-refer, then (i) and (ii) encode the same proposition:
(i) Ice-T is Ice-T.
(ii) Ice-T is Tracy Lauren Marrow.
2. The proposition expressed by (i) is uninformative, true in virtue of meaning (analytic), is knowable w/o empirical investigation, etc.; and the proposition encoded by (ii) is not any of these things.
3. If (2), then SC1 ≠ SC2.
4. So SCI ≠ SC2.
5. So either Russellianism is false or ‘Ice-T’ and ‘TLM’ don’t co-refer.
6. But they do co-refer.
7. So, Russellianism is false.

Lewis would make sense of (i) by slotting in the sense-meaning of Ice-T; the sensations I get when I look at (or whatever) Ice-T. So it is easy to see how (i) is analytic, since I have a sense-meaning of Ice-T and this is identical to itself!

Lewis would make sense of (ii) by slotting in the sense-meanings of Ice-T and TLM; the sensations I get when I look at (or whatever) Ice-T and TLM. So it is easy to see how (ii) is analytic; the same sense-meanings get slotted in.

But (i) seems to be a logical truth; (ii) does not. I might not know that I have a sense-meaning of TLM. Lewis is a descriptivist of sorts, so maybe he thinks that the semantic content is a sense or something; so lets say a Lewis-concept. A sense-meaning is what gives me a concept. I might hold that the man I am looking at now (or have looked past in the future, or would be looking at how if I were looking at Ice-T) is clearly Ice-T. This is the sense meaning of Ice-T. But I might not know that this is the sense meaning of TLM.

I think Lewis would argue that the sense-meanings are the same, but we have different concepts involved. A concept would be something like the denotation, the connotation, the signification, and the comprehension.

Roughly, the 4-modes for 'Ice-T' are:

1. Denotation: the class of actual Ice-Ts, past, present and future.
2. Connotation: those other words logically implied by the words ‘Ice-T’.
3. Signification: those universals which signify the qualities and relations in the thing, picked up in the connotation of the term.
4. Comprehension: consistently thinkable possible Ice-Ts, the consistently thinkable possible beings.

So (2) will pick up that being Ice-T is logically implied by being Ice-T, but not by being TLM.

Dubious, for many reasons, but Lewis can argue that the Russellian is wrong. The sense-meanings may be the same, but the concepts are different.

So what is true is:

(1) The sense-meaning of 'Ice-T' is the sense-meaning of 'TLM'.
(2) What has the same sense-meanings are synonyms.
(3) 'Ice-T' and 'TLM' are synonymous.


(4) The concept of Ice-T is not the concept of TLM.
(5) What have different concepts have different meanings.
(6) The concept of Ice-T and the concept of TLM have different meanings.


1 comment:

Wes McPherson said...

I think its neat to see how close to Quine Lewis is. If one was inclined to like Lewis, but wanted to 'help out' his theories, I can see how one would be Quinean.