Saturday, February 6, 2010

Two trick pony

I'm trying to develop a second trick. Here we go. I'm working on my paper on the ontology of reasons and need to know something about claims of the form 'He A'd for the reason that p' or 'His reason for A'ing was that p'.

Consider:
(1) He voted for Bill for the reason that Charlie is a crook.
(2) He voted for Bill because Charlie is a crook.
(3) Charlie is a crook.

It seems to me that (2) entails (3). One opponent agrees, but thinks that (1) doesn't entail (3) and so denies that (1) entails (2).

Now, you might think that (1) and (2) are, properly understood, elliptical for some longer statement that describes Bill's attitudes concerning Charlie. That's fine. You probably think that because you think that if (3) is false, (1) and (2) would be false. You probably think that the form of the explanation doesn't depend upon whether (3). For the point of this discussion, we're not on different teams.

Evidence of entailment.
(i) It seems that (1) entails (2) just on the face of it. Conjunctions with negated conjuncts will come in a moment, but I take it that someone who denies that (1) entails (2) but thinks that it seems to some that (1) entails (2) will want to offer an account of the appearance of entailment that doesn't require an entailment. Could it be that (1) pragmatically implies that something like (2) is true? I think not. As Stanley notes, citing Saddock and Bengson, you can reinforce pragmatically imparted information, but not entailments.

So, there's nothing wrong with, "I have a cat. Indeed, I have just one cat". There's something wrong with, "I have just one cat. Indeed, I have a cat". Now, it seems strange to say, "He voted for Bill for the reason that Charlie is a crook. Indeed, he voted for Bill because Charlie is a crook." That (to me) looks/sounds/feels a lot like, "I know that it's raining outside. Indeed, it is raining outside."

(ii) It seems contradictory to assert (~2) and assert (1): He didn't vote for Bill because Charlie is a crook, but he voted for Bill for the reason that Charlie is a crook. (If there were merely a pragmatic link from (1) to (2), wouldn't (~2) cancel the pragmatic implicature that (allegedly) explains the appearance of an entailment from (1) to (2)?)

(iii) It seems defective to say: He voted for Bill for the reason that Charlie is a crook, but I don't believe he voted for Bill because Charlie is a crook. It seems defective to say: He voted for Bill for the reason that Charlie is a crook but I have no good reason to believe he voted for Bill because Charlie is a crook. Obvious explanation is to assimilate these to more familiar kinds of Moorean absurdities such as "He knows that dogs bark but I don't believe it myself". You can only assimilate these to such cases if the speaker's commitment to (1) carries with it a commitment to belief in (3).

(iv) It seems we can rewrite each of (1)-(3) as follows:
(1') He voted for Bill for the reason that it's a fact that Charlie is a crook.
(2') It's a fact that he voted for Bill because it's a fact that Charlie is a crook.
(3') It's a fact that Charlie is a crook.

It seems (1'), (2'), and (3') entail that Charlie is a crook.

Not only that, but I think on everyone's view, (1) entails:
(4) That Charlie is a crook explains why he voted for Bill.

(4) entails:
(4') The fact that Charlie is a crook explains why he voted for Bill.

The schema: 'S's reason for A-ing is that p' entails 'p explains why S A'd', which entails 'The fact that p explains why S A'd', which entails that p is a fact. Which entails p.


Thoughts?

2 comments:

Jonathan Ichikawa said...

I think you're completely right.

Josh said...

More like Stink Tonk.