Saturday, November 22, 2008

C1 and C2 wonder

I think King's motivation for his C1 and C2 distinction is good. I'm motivated to accept something like what he wants, though I would want to avoid his problems. I think the classical empirical-foundationalists also want something like what he has.

The motivation behind C1, rationally reconstructed, seems to be one's being able to get into the space of reasons, make material inferences, paraphrase, justify, etc. one's use of language.

The motivation behind C2, rationally reconstructed, seems to be one's being able to reliably report, assert, identify, etc. One has to be able to use the words correctly.

Someone like CI Lewis is going to say that C1 is basically being able to know what is logically implied by a term; and, it seems, what is analytically implied. Lewis thinks these are distinct, but King could be said to just conjoin a term's 'connotation' and 'signification' as Lewis uses the words (roughly).

Lewis would say that C2 is one's being able to recognize instances. One has to know what the term picks out, and all consistently thinkable cases where the term would pick out those things. Again, King could be said to just have conjoined the ideas of 'denotation' and 'comprehension' as Lewis uses the words (roughly).

Maybe Russell-Mill would take C1 to be one's knowing connotations, C2 knowing denotations.

These people all want to cash out 'word-meaning' and 'sense-meanings'. It seems that something like this distinction between 'inter-linguistic transitions' and 'language-entry transitions' is good to have. Even for Quine we need stimulus-meanings 'in presence' and 'in absence'. HH Price likes this notion of 'in presence' and 'in absence' so he would want C1 to be something like 'thinking of a term in absence' and 'thinking of a term in presence'.

So even if we don't like King's formulation, shouldn't we look to keep a sort of C1 and C2 distinction for linguistic competency?


Chris Tillman said...

If we keep them, what, exactly, will the principles look like? How will they avoid the problems we discussed?

Wes McPherson said...

I think something like:

C1: Linguistic competence via dictionary meanings.

S is competent with term P iff S can give other terms which are materially or logically implied by a thing's being P.

C2: Linguistic competence via sensory meanings.

S is competent with term P iff S can identify (or imagine) instances of P.

would fit the bill. Even a man of the street can answer the following demands:

1. Tell me what p is.
2. Show me an example of P.

(1) seems to demand a sort of analysis. (2) seems to demand a (as Lewis would put it) a terminating judgment.

The problems, as I recall them in class, were that the two categories collapse. They cannot on this view. And that a man on the street could fail to meet the rigor of King's standards. On this view, a man on the street can be said to be competent.

I don't think one needs to follow Lewis all the way, since we shouldn't be phenomenalists.

Jones is competent with the term 'bachelor'. So by C1 Jones knows that by being a bachelor it is materially implied that you are an unmarried man. Jones is also C1 competent with the term 'human' and knows that if you are a human, it is materially implied that you are mortal.

By C2 Jones is also able to recognize bachelors and humans in their instances. So if he sees me and knows certain facts about me, he recognizes I am a bachelor and a human.