Matti Eklund has now replied to Gabriel Broughton’s critique of his conception of Carnapian frameworks. Broughton is more than capable of fending for himself, but in the course of addressing Broughton’s critique, Eklund also takes a little swipe at my post about it, so I’ll respond briefly to that. He accuses me (as he accuses Broughton) of having unfairly attributed to him what Broughton calls the “Natural language thesis: Carnapian frameworks are natural languages.” Now of course I’m very glad he wants to back away from that, and I’m glad he now thinks the “natural language thesis” absurd, but I think he’ll have trouble convincing anyone he didn’t hold it previously. In his own self-quotation on pp. 8-9 of his reply, he explicitly conceives of a Carnapian framework as a specific natural language (English). Still, it’s never too late for repentance; no soul is beyond redemption (the Carnap Blog adheres to a broadly Christian attitude in such matters).Continue reading
During the past few years a lot of rubbish has been circulating about Carnapian frameworks. I have been watching this infestation with dismay, but so far addressed it only occasionally, e.g. here with respect to Chalmers, or here with respect to Eklund (and that was a while ago). I’m very glad to see that someone has now decided that enough is enough, and sprayed some serious ant killer on this irruption of philosophical insect life. Bravo to Gabriel Broughton for having taken on this unpleasant task in his new paper “Carnapian Frameworks” (Synthese)!Continue reading
The most popular response to the Carnapian linguistic turn has not been to reject it, as Quine did, but simply to ignore it — as Williamson does, along with Chalmers, Hirsch, Eklund, and many others. Some will consider this response entirely appropriate. If the tendency of the Carnapian linguistic turn is not actually to grapple with philosophical problems but to turn away from them and change the subject, as Strawson alleges, then surely those who are interested in such problems have every right to resist the change of subject and remain focussed on the problem they set out to solve?
The problem for Chalmers, Hirsch, and Eklund in adopting such a view is that they appropriate certain pieces of Carnapian conceptual apparatus while ignoring, indeed defying, the larger conception (the Carnapian linguistic turn) that makes sense of those pieces, as I’ve argued in some of the posts linked above. Moreover, these authors share with Williamson an apparent committment to certain standards of rational argument and conceptual rigor loosely associated with the “analytical” tradition in philosophy with which they presumably identify, given their willingness to be associated with Carnap.
Williamson has made these standards remarkably explicit in his dressing-down of the profession, “Must Do Better” Continue reading
Some afterthoughts on my previous remarks about “ontological pluralism.” I said there that
A “string of symbols” cannot “come out true in some languages but false in others, while meaning what it actually means,” because “what it actually means” is not specifiable language-independently. To suppose that a string of symbols “actually” means something independently of the language it is expressed in is just to take an external statement literally, at face value.
Of course there may be multiple explicata for a single explicandum, but this is not a case of a string of symbols coming out true in some languages but false in others; Continue reading
Various forms of “pluralism” are making the rounds these days. There is, for instance, the “logical pluralism” of Beall and Restall (among others), the subject of a recent book by Stewart Shapiro, which will be discussed here at some point. But then there is also something much vaguer and murkier called “ontological pluralism,” which, amazingly, is attributed to Carnap. Matti Eklund, for instance, considers this question in his paper in the Metametaphysics volume. What does he mean by it? He considers various formulations, starting with the “quantifier-variance” understanding of Hirsch, in which ontological pluralism requires the quantifiers to take on different interpretations in different languages. But Eklund thinks this is insufficiently precise, as it can seem to amount to “the thesis that a string of symbols can come out true in some languages but false in others, while meaning what it actually means.” The trouble with this, he thinks, is that it “would appear to commit the ontological pluralist to a form of relativism or idealism absent from pluralist writings.” (p. 138) Continue reading