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"202 Donald Davidson

asymmetry between how we know our own minds and' howo we kn()w the
minds of others:: It is striking, for example, that Burge's explanation of first
person authority fails to account for the fact that the same thing, namely what
is in one person's mind, can also b~ known by someone else, though'in a very
different way. The missing part ofthe explanation is filled in, I think, when
we recognize the way interaction with other people partly determines the
contents of mental states. Knowledge of one's own mind is personal. But what
individuates that state at the same time makes it accessible to others, for the Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
state is individuated by causal interplay among three elements: the thinker, of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language
others with whom he communicates, and an objective world they know they
Carnap tried to overcome metaphysics through a distinction between empirical and con-
ceptual truths. The distinction has since been challenged, but not on the basis of a systematic
logical analysis of language. It is suggested here that the logical theory of identifiability based on
the author's interrogative model will provide the tools for such a systematic analysis. As an
example of what the model can do, a criticism is offered of Quine's and. Chomsky's implicit
assumption that language learning is based on atomistic (quantifier-free) "answers" (input).

Carnap a essaye de depasser la metaphysique par une distinction entre des \'eriles empiriques
et des verites conceptuelles. Cette distinction a ensuite ete contestee, mais non sur la base d'une
analyse systematique du langage. On suggere ici que la theorie logique de I'identifiabilite basee
sur Ie modele interrogatif de l'auteur fournira les outils d'une telle analyse syslematique. Com me
excmple de ce que peut faire ce modele, on presente une crilique de la supposition implicile de
Quine et de Chomsky selon laquelle l'apprentissage du langage repose sur des «reponses» (input)
ntomiques (sans quantificateurs).

Zusammenfassllng .
Carnap versuchte Metaphysik durch eine Unterscheidung zwischen empirischen und konzep-
luellen Wahrheiten zu Uberwinden. Seither wurde die Unterscheidung immer wieder angegriffen,
jedoch nicht auf der Basis einer systematischen logischen Analyse der Sprache. In vorliegendem
'. Artikel witd"vorgeschlagen, dass eine logische Theorie der Idenlifizierbarkeit, welche auf dem
Frage-Antworl-Modell des Autors grUndet, die lnstrumente fUr eine solche logische Analyse
bereitstelll. Als Beispiel dafOr, was das Modellieisten kann~ dient eine Kritik an Quines und
Chomskys impliziter Voraussetzung, dass das Erlernen von Sprache .auf atomaren (quantoren-
freien) «Antworten» aufbaut (Input). .

The theme of this meeting is "metaph~sics and science". 1 suppose that

what is meant could equally well have been expressed by "the relation of
metaphysics to science". But before we can discuss what that relation is, we
have to ascertain that there is such a t~ing as metaphysiCs that could bear
some conceivable relation to science or to anything else.

· Boston University
Vol. 45, N° 2-3 (1991) Dlalectica Vol.45, N°2-3 (1991). . j
Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
Jaakko Hintikka .
of Language"ThroughLogicalAnalysisof Language
. 205

Historically, metaphysics comes in all sizes and shapes. The definition of departmental sciences do that all the time according to him. The problem was
metaphysics is itself a metaphysical problem. In contrast, the problem of the whether there is any subject matter left to metaphysics over and above the
possibility of metaphysics is relatively well defined, on one natural interpreta- subject matter of the different particular sciences. Aristotle argued for an
tion, at least. It is: Can human thought alone, unaided by empirical evidence, affirmative answer by arguing that a complctely general science, a science of
produce interesting knowledge? Aristotle's answer was an unqualified yes. "being qua being", is possible4.
His reasons for the answer are highly interesting though insufficiently appre- This Aristotelian foundation of metaphysics has been given up fairly uni-
ciated by scholars. For Aristotle, to think of X is for one's soul to take on the versally. }<'ewpeople seriously think that by just putting my mind to it I can
form of X t. (This Aristotelian idea still lingers on in the etymology of our ian- obtain.ki10wledge of the objective reality. My historical working hypothesis at.
guage, where being cognizant of X is expressed as having information about. . this moment is that the demolition job on Aristotelian methodology was
it. This of course ought to mean "to be in the form of X".) Aristotle intends started by the medieval nominalists5.
his idea is to be taken literally; an instantiation of a form in one's soul is on a Of course, the rejection of the Aristotelian theory did not put an end to
par with its realizations elsewhere2. From this it follows that allY necessary other forms of the belief that somehow we could reach substantial truths by
connection between forms can be perceived by realizing them in one's mind. means of pure thinking alone. Other suitable metaphysical (or empirical)
If the form of Y necessarily accompanies the form of X, then it is necessarily assumptions concerning the world might serve the same purpose as Aristotle's
realized in my mind as soon as I managed to think of X, i.e., as soon as the psychology of thought here. By the nineteenth century, there was even a name
form of X is realized in my soul. It is thus seen that, even though Aristotle was available for one such internal source of truths: intuition. (This, by the way, is
in a sense an empiricist, his reliance on experience was of a very special kind. not what the word meant earlier6.) But by 1990 most philosophers no longer
In Aristotelian methodology empirical input is needed only to enable me as it hav~ the courage of their intuitions. They no longer believe that our intuitions
were to assemble the right forms in mind from bits and pieces given to me by can .yield objective knowledge of any independent reality. Consequently, the
sense-perception. Empirical evidence is not needed to ascertain natural laws;. function of intuition-based theorizing has now become conceived as one Of
that is, necessary connections between forms. merely systematizing our intuitions as such, without assigning them any role
This way of thinking colors Aristotle's entire philosophy. It differs so whatsoever as giving information about anything beyond themselves 7. The
radically from our wanted ways of thought that scholars have not dared ack- correspondence theory of intuition has been replaced. by a coherence theory,
nowledge its full consequences in Aristotle. It is among other places reflected so to speak. This marks the effective end of intuitionistic metaphysics.
in Aristotle's idea that induction or properly speaking, epagoge, is essentiaIly Does.. this mean that metaphysics has been found impossible? No,
a matter of concept formation, not of generalization from particulars to uni- metaphysics is alive if not particularly well in KOnigsberg or wherever the
versals 3. spirit of Immanuel Kant is currently moving. For one can still argl!e, as Kant
Aristotle's way of thinking is relevant to the theme of this meeting because in effect did, that pure (i.e., nonempirical) thought can reveal the way in which
it shows in which sense the possibility of metaphysics was unproblematic and our knowledge is grounded in our own thinking, in our own activities, and in
in what sense it was problematic for him. The problem for Aristotle was not t.he conceptual tools they are using 8. This kind of knowledge can certainly be
whether unaided human thought can recognize general truths. Even the 4 See Metaphysics 1-2 and cf. G. E. L. Owen, "Logic and l\-Ietaphysics in some Earlier
Works of Aristotle", in G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic: Collected Papers on Greek
I'hilo.rophy, Duckworth, London, 1986, pp. 180-99.
I Aristotle, De Anima III 6, 43Ial-2: "Actual knowledge is identical with its object." cr.
also ibid 8, 43lb24-432a3.
2 This is seen most clearly from Metaphysics Z7, where Aristotle argued for his thesis that
v 5 For a preliminary discussion, see my paper, "Conceptions of Scientific Method from Aris-
totle to Newton", in Monika Asztalos et al., eds. Knowledge and the Sciences in MedieI'Q1 Philo-
sophy, vol. I, Philosophical Society of Finland, Helsinki 1990, pp. 72-84.
"everything comes out of that which actually is" of the same form. This is trivial in the case of 6 In the early modern period, "intuitive knowledge" meant merely immediate knowledge,
animals but what about the production artifacts and other products of art? When a doctor heals a with no assumption of any special source of knowledge. For a glimpse of this kind of meaning.
patient, that is, produces an instance of the form of health in.a patient, where is the earlier actual see my paper, "On Kant's Notion of Intuition", in The First Critique, ed. by T. Penelhum and J.
exemplification or that form? In the mind of the physician, Aristotle answers, for lJaving this J. Mcintosh, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 1969, pp. 38-53.
form is what the medical art consists in. See also Met. Z9, 1034a21-23 and Met. 4, 1070b33-34. 7 This idea is an extension of Chomsky's earlier approach to syntactical theorizing, where
J See here my paper "Aristotelian Induction", Revue Internationale de Philosophie vol. 34 the rock bottom of the enterprise were competent speakers' Intuitions about grammaticality.
", 8 This is perhaps seen most clearly from Kant's preface to the second edition of the Critique
(1980), pp. 422-39. Cf. also "The Concept of Induction in the Light of the Interrogative l'
Approach to Inquiry", forthcoming. of Pure Reason, especially pp. XII-XVIII.
Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis 207
Jaakko Hintikka
of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language

substantial and informative. One particularly interesting twentieth-century It is this Carnapian of denial of the possibiJity of metaphysics that I wa,nt to
variant of this kind of critical, metaphysics is R. G. Collingwood's idea that discuss in this paper. Prima/ode, my enterprise might seem,to be seriously out
metaphysics is "the attempt to find out what" absolute presuppositions have of date, for the theses on which Carnap's attempted ) "Oberwindung der

been made by this or that person or group of persons, on this or that occasion Metaphysik" rests have been rejected by a number of prominent philosophers,
or groups of occasions" 9. Whether or not it is always called "metaphysics", present company not excepted. First, Quine and others began to challenge Car-
such an examination of the basic conceptual assumptions of patticular nap's sharp dichotomy of questions of fact and questions of meaning 13.
sciences, or even of our thought at large, seems to be big business. even in the Quine's rejeetion of the analytic-synthetic distinction was an early form of the

twentieth century. And even when the label "metaphysics" is not applied, it challenge. Later, several philosophers have in different ways defended the,
might as well have been. For instance, the speculations of twentieth-century theory-Iadenness and fact-Iadenness of meaning 14. On such a view, no sharp
physicists about the foundations of their own science are full of claims that distinction can be made between questions of fact and questions of meaning.
, .
are much more blatantly metaphysical than any contemporary analytic phi- Consequently, it looks possible in principle that a conceptual analysis might
losopher (assuming that that species is not extinct) would dare to make.. uncover factual presuppositions of our language and our discourse, or of the
However, even the possibility of critical metaphysics has been denied in discourse .of some other group of people. This seems to open the doors to
our century. The classk document in this respect is Rudolf Carnap's 1931 metaphysics at least in the "critical" Collingwoodian spirit.
paper "Die Oberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analysis der In a sense, many philosophers already have entered through these doors.
Sprache", misleadingly translated ,as "Elimination of Metaphysics Through Indeed, probably the best known scholar professing to have been influenced
Logical Analysis of Language" 10.In it, Carnap relied in effect on two theses. by Quine, Thomas Kuhn, can be viewed as having done just that IS. The fact
They are, first, a sharp separation of empirical and conceptual truths (includ- that he is talking about paradigms instead of ultimate presuppositions makes
ing truths about the meanings of our words and phrases) and, second, an "no difference. And Kuhn's relegation of problem-solving and question-
interpretation of conceptual (analytical) truths as being vacuous, (tau- answering to normal science, instead of their Collingwoodian pride of place,
tological) II. The former thesis relegates metaphysics to the study of merely merely reflects, I believe, a deeply ingrained restrictive presupposition of
our conceptual system, and the latter deprives metaphysics of any substantial Kuhn's own t6.
subject matter. For statements about what our words and phrases mean are on But who is right, Carnap or his latter-day critics? ,Is there a sharp distinc-
this view empty or "tautological". To deny one is merely to talk nonsense, and tion between fact and meaning? Are meanings really theory-laden and fact-
to assert one therefore is not to make a meaningful statement. Finis , laden? At first sight, it might be completely hopeless to try to answer. these
metaphysics - according to Carnap. questions in one paper. In order to do so, I would apparently have to slirvey
It is interesting to note in the passing that there is relatively little else in and to evaluate nearly forty years of intensive and intricate discussion. This ,

Carnap's philosophy which would have ruled out some sort of critical lask I obviously cannot take on here. '

metaphysics. For instance, Aristotle's problem of whether there can be a gen-

eral study of being as being was no difficulty for a defender of the unity of IJ Cf. here W. V. Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism". in From Q Logical Poilll of View.
science and of the physicalistic language as the universal language of science 12; Harvard U.P., Cambridge, MA, 1953, pp. 20-46.
14 These terms are not usually used in the literature. Instead, terms like
" "antirealism" are
Iypically cmployed. This terminology is nol accidental. It seems to me to renecl a genuine confu-
9 Sce R. G. Collingwood. E.~ay 011Metaphysics. Clarcndon Press, Oxford. 1940, chaplcrs sion as to what is really involved.
4-7, especially p. 47. 15 Cf. T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second ed., Univcrsity or Chi-
\0 Erkenntnis, vol. 2 (1932), pp. 432-65. English translation in A. J. Ayer, editor, Logical cago Press, Chicago, 1970. A brief survey of the problems Kuhn is dealing with, see Ian Hacking,
Positivism, The Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, 1959, pp. 60-81. editor, Scientific Revolutions, Oxford U.P., Oxford, 1981. ,

\I This thesis \yas in different variants held by most members of the Vienna Circle and their
"f In spiteof the voluminousliteratureKuhn's book has prompted,therestillexistsneithera
allies.See,e.g.,A. J. Ayer,Language Truth and Logic, Victor Gollancz, London, 1936,chapter 4. i satisfactory analysis of his main concepts nor a close analysis of his argumentation.
16 This presupposition is expressed most naturally by reference to my interrogative model'of

For the difficulties involved with this idea, cf. my paper "G. H. von Wright on Logical Truth
and Distributive Normal Forms": in The Philosopl,y ofG. H. von Wright (Library of Living Phi- inquiry. It amounts to assuring that the "answers" nature can give 10 a scientist are all particular
losophers), Open Court, LaSalle, Illinois, 1990l' PP. 517-37. ' (i.e., quantifier-free) truths. Kuhn's strong emphasis that theories are not derived from, or
Cf. also Burton Dreben and Juliet Floyd, 'Tautology: How Not to Use a Word", Synthese, otherwise determined by, evidence does not have plausibility without this assumption. For a dis-
vol. 89 (1990), pp. 23-49. cussion of what happens when this assumption is given up, see my paper, "What Is the Logic of
12 Both ideas are strikingly In evidence in Carnap's paper, op. eit., note 10 above" Expe.rimentallnquirY7", Synthese vol. 74 (1988), pp. 173-90. "
.lOB Jaakko Hintikka Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language 209
" ,

Instead, I will challenge the methodology of this entire discussion. Sup- means of armchair psychology, cute artificial , examples (you have heard of
pose, 'for the sake of argument, that meanings are theory-laden. Since gavagai and of the twin earth, haven't you?), a couple of natural language
meanings determine reference, the references of a language user's words and illustrations, and so on, in short, by everything but honest logical means. We
phrases likewise depend on the theory he or she has adopted or, more likely, hear in these days a great deal about naturalistic epistemology. This term
on the proto-theory his or her linguistic community has tacitly developed. nevertheless hides a serious confusion. What naturalizes an approach to
Now how is such a matter to be studied? The first answer that comes to your epistemology, we are told, is the rejection of all normative considerations. But
mind is the best one. This obvious answer is: by logical means. Or, if we want most practitioners of naturalized epistemology and naturalized semantics
to be more precise, by means of logical semantics. For what kinds of questions have nevertheless thrown out the methodological baby with the normative
are we supposed to be studying here? There is a great deal of fuzziness in the bathwater. Not only have they rejected normative considerations; they have
literature, but a representative kind of question surely could be something like , foresworn the use of all explicit formal methods. This is a mistake; non-
this: Given a theory T[P) containing a term, say a one-place predicate P, what normative semantics need not be informal, \vithout recourse to logical and
does it tell us about the applicability of P to already different cases? Here T[Pl' other formal methods. Surely non-normative even fully scientific and natura-
gives us a certain amount of information about some cases to which P applies listic approaches can employ mathematical and logical models. Indeed, in
or does not apply, but at triost it tells us something about the relationships be- some cases, logico-semantical conceptualizations have turned out to be much
tween P and the other concepts employed in T[P). Here it might even seem more closely related to actual neuroscience thari the bulk of literature on
that the entire problem reduces to good old-fashioned logic. For is not the "naturalized epistemology". ,

question whether P applies to a given individuall? simply the question whether We can thus express concisely what the trouble is with post-Carnapian phi-
T[P] logically implies Tb? No, it is not, because 'in answering such a question losophy of language. It tries to overcome "Overcoming Metaphysics Through
we typically have an additional source of information at our disposal. It is our Logical Analysis of Language", but not through logical analysis of language.
knowledge of how the other concepts occurring in T[P] apply to the indi- Instead, we are treated to armchair psycliology and armchair sociology of lan-
viduals in our domain. Later in this paper, I shall show such prima facie iII- gu<~,ge.In my opinion, this 'constitutes a major paradox in the history of twen-
defined knowledge can be brought to the purview of explicit logico-semantical tieth ce~ltury philosophy, for severai of the main figures involved in those
theory. '

developments are or have been practicing logicians.

Of course we cannot hope to have a formal theory that could be applied The ,historical roots of this massive failure of famous logicians to ~se ~he .
directly to actual natural languages, including our own "limpid vernacular" , tools of their own trade when they are doing semantics are highly interesting. I
to use Quine's sometime phrase. However, we can try to develop structural have touched upon them elsewhere, and I wiII soon return to them.
analyses which show what the conceptual situation is and thereby what we At this point I can announce my main new result. I cannot explain it fully,
have to be on a lookout for in real-life situations. '
and it has not yet been published, but I can briefly explain it here. ~n the broad-
Notice that this way of construing representative problems in the theory of est possible terms, I can teIl you that a powerfullogico-semantical tlleOty of
empirical meaning (reference) determination is' not subject to Quine's empirica./ meaning (reference) determination is possible, because it is actual.
criticisms of Carnap 17.Carnap's mistake, according to Quine, is to label cer- What is this theory? The answer is simple: it is the theory of identifiability
tain rules as being "analytic" or "meaning rules", without sketching in the that can be developed on the basis of my interrogative model of inquiry 18.As
behavioral or societal facts that characterize such a special status. In my .1 said, this theory has not yet been published, but an outline will soon be
sample problem, all assumptions can be expressed by straightforward factual available. Here, only a quick sketch is possible.
propositions. First, a few words about the interrogative modeP9.. In it, two players,
In view of this prima facie logico-semantical character of the kinds of called the Inquirer and Nature playa 'game on some given model M of the
questions Quine and others have raised, it blows my mind that in practically
the entire discussion he provoked these questions have been dealt with by 18 See here my paper, "Toward a General Theory of Identifiability", in J. Felzer, D. Shatz
and G. Schlesinger, editors, Definitions and Definability, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1991,
17 cr. w. V. Quine, op. cit., p. 36; also Word and Object, MIT Press Cambridge ,. MA pp. 161-183.
1960,especiallych. I. ' 19 See op. cit., note 16 above, and the literature referred to there.
4J Jaakko Hintikka Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language 211
lnderlying first-order language. The bookkeeping method employ~d is the
An example of a result from proof theory which can be extended to the
Beth tableall method 20. The game begins like a Beth tableau, with an initial
thcory of interrogative games is William' Craig's famous interpolation
premise T in the left column and the ultimate eonclusion C in the right one.
theorem 22.It holds here in the following forrri23.
There are two kinds of moves, both initiated by the Inquirer, logical moves
lIld interrogative moves. A logical move is simply a tableau-building move' Extended Interpolation Theorem
(with the rules slightly modified from Beth's)21. In an interrogative move, the
Assume (i) M: T I- C
, 1nquirer addresses a question to Nature, and if an answer is forthcoming, it is , (ii) Not T I- C
;dded to the sub tableau that is being constructed. A full definition of such an
mterrogative game includes a specification of which answers Nature will yield (Hi) Not M: t I- (8 & - 8)
and which ones she will not give. An interrogative move is allowed only when Then thGfc is a formula I (the interpolation formula) such that
he presupposition of the question has already been established, i.e., is present (a) M: T I- I
./1 the left column of the subtableau'in question" In the games studied here, (b) I I- C
Nature'sanswersare assumedto be all true about M. . (c) Each predicate, dummy name and free variable of I occurs in
We can thus define a relation both T and C. '

(d) Each proper name (individual constant) of I either occurs in


(1) M: T I- C
. hoth T and C or was introduced in the proof of (i) for the first time by an an-
Ihich expresses the fact that the Inq'uirer has a winning strategy)n the inter-
;,gative game, i.e., can close the tableau no matter what (true) answers

swer to wh-question or was imported in the same proof from the right
column into left column by universal instantiation on the left.
Nature gives (subject to certain unspecified restrictions). (e) All the answers to questions in the derivation of (a) are used
I This relation (1) is precisely as "logical" as the relation of deductive deriv- already in the derivation (i).
This extcnsion of the interpolation theorem is much more than a mere
(2)T I- C 'illustration here. Once we have the interpolation' theorem, we can use it to
prove an interrogative generalization of Beth's theorem concerning definabil-
It is in fact interesting to compare (1) and (2). At first sight, there does not
ity24, in. the same way as the original theorem is proved in the usual
seem to be much hope of developing a general theory for (1), for whether or
metatheory of first-order logic2s. The availability of (an extension 00 Beth's
"ot (1) holds in a given case depends crucially on a further parameter, viz. on
le class of available answers, which can be chosen in a bewildering variety of
theorem means in turn that we can develop a big brother of the usual logical

ways. The real prime time news here is that one can develop a theory for (I)
theory of definability, viz. a theory of "interrogative definahility". If you
which is independent of this parameter. One can even develop it in partial ." think for a moment what this concept amounts to, you will have a deja vu
I expcrience. You will realize that such "empirical definability" has a well-
, nalogy to (or extension 00 the metatheory of the usual relation (2) of deduc-
established :name in the methodology of several actual s.ciences,viz. idem i-
live provability. This is the rock-solid basis of saying that interrogative deriv-
fiability26, What I have just said can be summed up by saying that the inter-
ability is just as "logical" a concept as deductive derivability. '

22 See William Craig, "Three U~es of the Herorand-Gentzcn Theorcm in Rclation Model
Theory and ProorTheory", Journal 01 Symbolic Log;c vol. 22 (1957) pp. 269-85.
.. 23 Cr,:here op. cit., note 18. I am here looking away from certain nontrivial assumptions on
which the Extended Interpolation Theorem rests. Cf. note 29 below.
24 See E. W. Beth, "On Padua's Method in the Theory or Definition", {/ndagatiolles Mathe-
:w E. W. Beth, "Semantic Entailment and Formal Derivabllity", Mededelingen van de maticae vol. 15 (1953), pp. 330-9., ,
2~ Beth's theorem is virtually a corollary to the interpolation theorem. The .same relation
Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie, van Wetenschappen, Aid, Letterkunde N. R. vol. 13(1953),
pp. 309-42. ,
holds bctween thc generalizations of these two theorems to idenlifiability and interrogative inter-
polation, respectively.
r, T,his ~ethodis o~ course ~ut m~rror I.mage of a Gentzen-type sequent technique, the only
~ m which the applications of the technique proceed.
sentlal difference bemg the duectlon
26 For this concept, see e.g., Cheng Hsiao, "Identification", in Z. Griliches and M. D. Intri-
21 Essentially, no traffic between the two columns (sides)ora tableau Isallowed. ligator, editors, Handbook 01 Econometrics, vol. I, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1983, ch. 4;
I Franklin Fisher, The Identification Problem in Ecollometrics, McGraw-Hili, New York, 1966.
/ Jaakko Hintikka . Ovcrcoming "Ovcrcoming MctaphysicsThrough LogicalAnalysis
/'ogative counterpart of the usual theory of definability is nothing less than a of Languagc" Through Logical Analysis of Languagc

Second., large segments of recent discussions in the philosophy of language

~enerallogical theory of identifiability. are immediately thrown into a sharper relief. For instance, from the vantage
But what does the theory of identifiability have to do with the theory of point we have reached we can' understand part of the argumentation of the
'heory-Iadenness and fact-Iadenness of meaning? I suspect that by this time likes of Putnam. He argues to the effect that the meaning or words like
ny clever audience has already seen what is coming and wiII answer, correctly: ., "water" are determined by the actual chemical structure of water; not by its
everything. The logical theory of identifiability is (or perhaps I should say, observable behavior or by the practicable method of its identification. There
~an be viewed as) a general logical theory of empirical reference determina- is little in such arguments that cannot be captured by saying that the meaning
ion. It is obviously the right conceptual tool in trying to answer systematically of "water" is partly determined by the scientific (chemical) theory in' which it
questions of the kind indicated above. occurs. This conclusion I can certainly agree with. But what happens in phi-
In this way, we can among other things eliminate all vagueness from the losophers like Putnam is that the theory-Iadenncss of meanings is not ~ecog-
ypical questions in the theory of theory-Iadenness and fact-Iadenness of nized as such, and is embellished with alleged consequences which make sense
.neaning sketched above. This vagueness was due to the lack of specification ;
only if we have a sense of "meaning", "pecessity", "essence", or some related
of what the relevant empirical evidence is and of how precisely it enters into term which is not relative toa theory. For instance, if the crux of the matter is
he determination of the extension o,r reference of P. The theoretical deter- the theory-Iadenness of the meaning of "water", it is at best a misleading
Ilination of reference comes from the initial theory T[P] and the factual deter- . ; . iIIustratiQn and a worst bad metaphysics to go on to say that'the meaning of
mination comes from the answers to the identifying inquirer's questions. The
"water" is determined by what water is (Putnam) or to say that the chemical
.pparent vagueness of such factual determination does not matter, for it only.' properties of water (its atomic structural) necessary, not contingent (Kripke).
,ffects the restrictions that ttave to be imposed on Nature's answers, while the Such theses make sense only on a theory-independent concept of meaning or
theory itself is independent 'Of such restrictions. The role of tacit background of necessity, respectively.
'nowledge requires some additional discussion, but it would not affect what is In general, many of the questions that have been asked in recent discus-
aid in this paper. sions can be accommodated within my framework. For instance, it is often
Here i~ the main message of this paper. Ther~is a logical medium for the asked (as, e.g., in Putnam's notorious "twin earth" example) "what we would
""Iurpose of discussing meaning determination by theories and facts. This say" in certain circumstances. Those circumstances can be specified by spe-
Jgical theory enables us in principle to discuss in precise logical terms most"of cifyjng the model M and the theory T relied on. In this way, we can elimina.te
the issues that have been discussed in the tradition which Quine started and much of the arbitrariness. inherent in the all-too-common appeals to our
which emphasizes the theory-Iadenness a\ld fact-Iadenness of meanings. This "semantical intuitions" which are in reality just as theory-laden as the con-
ntire discussion thus has to be re-evaluated. cepts which philosophers have tried to explicate by their means.
I cannot undertake such a global re-evaluation here. I wiII restrict myself But what is the moral of my story so far, as for Carnap's criticisms of
to a few general points. - metaphysics are concerned? It seems to me that we .have indeed overcome .
First, the question you have been wanting to raise all the time is: Who is them through logical analysis of language, at. least insofar as critical
.ight, Carnap or Quine? Do we really have to countenance a massive deter- metaphysics is concerned. There is no longer in principle "any theoretical
mination of meanings by theories and facts? The resounding, albeit qualified, obstacle. of taking a piece of discourse and through a logico-semantical
!nswer that I am giving to you is: Quine is right in the sense that we can make analysis reveal its theoretical and factual presuppositions. And Collingwood
.!erfect sense of empirical meaning determination to the extent of being able I! was even right in claiming that in that enterprise "the logic of questions and
to spell out the logical structure of this determination. The Carnapian idea I. answers".plays a crucial role27.
hat the meanings (and afortior; references) of our words and expressions are Indeed, I happen to believe that Collingwood was right also about the
Jredetermined by a set of meaning rules (whatever they are or may be) is history of thought to a greater extent than he himself managed to demonstrate
unrealistic. What Quine has completely correctly tried to get at is a much
nore realistic picture of how the semantics of our actual language really
27 R. G. Collingwood, op. Cit., note 9 above. Cf. also, R. G. Collingwood. The Idea of
yorks. History, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1946, Part V, sec. 3.
\ Jaakko Hintikka Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
//' ,
' ','

of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language 215


"y example. Collingwood's notion of ultimate presupposition is too sim~listic

the interrogative model. More importantly, speaking of language-using agents
r ) be realistic. However, I do believe that it is in fact possible to locate impor-
seems to relativize everything to the psychological characteristics, background
tant large-scale presuppositions that have been, made by different philoso- knowledge, early childhood training, idiosyncracies and' prejudices of these
:ters, different philosophical traditions, and philosophers of different pe- "agents. Or, to generalize the issue, the study of the use of language apparently
ods. I am on the record as offering specific examples of such (usually tacit) belongs to pragmatics, not semantics, and pragmatics'is (didn't Morris tell us
p'resuppositions28. And at least heuristically the discovery of such presupposi- that?) is a part of the psychology and sociology of language 30.
" :ms is greatly facilitated by a conceptual analysis of ideas in question. The This Ii~e of thought is nevertheless an unmitigated fallacy. If you stop and
j lSic assumption of Aristotle's metaphysics which was sketched briefly above think for a minute of what is going on, you wiII see that (I) is just as an objec-
provides a modest case in point. tive relation, as (2), as completely independent of the idiosyncracies and indeed,
We have thus literally overcome "Overcoming Metaphysics Through of the actual identify of the players postulated. My heuristic term "Nature"
;,gical,Analysis of Language" through logical analysis of language. A couple docs not involve any more any personification of nature than ,an applied game
of,things nevertheless remain to be done in order to spell out a little bit more theorist's talk about "games against nature". An analogy should: make my
flilly what 1 have done and in order to put it in a perspective. point clear. If it is relevant in the theory of interrogative games to ask: But
First, let me try to remove a feeling of intellectual discomfort which many who are the players? then by the same token it must be relevant to ask in
VI' you have undoubtedly felt. My story is too good to be true or, rather, is too logical syntax: Who is supposed to write or to have written these syntactical
simple to be true, you are likely to have felt. If the logical treatment of the symbols? If the,theory of interrogative games is part of psychology, then for-
,eory-ladenness and fact-Iadenness of meaning is really as simple as that, it is :malsyntax is part of graphology. '

I _.llikely that first-rate logician-philosophers like Quine or Putnam should We are dealing here with one of the most harmful prejudices of recent phi-
have missed it, you may think. losophy of language. I hope I can exorcise it for good 31. ,

Part of the answer is that the theory of identification (of which the theory Of course I am claiming that the structures exemplified by the interroga-
. ,

! theory-ladenness is a part) is a much more difficult subject intrinsically tive model are not only instantiated in some Platonic, or G6delian heaven
than my outline exposition might su~gest. Results like my extension of the inhabited by abstract structures as such, but are also instantiated (albeit in bits
' terpolation theorem are perhaps not very hard to prove, but they are in a ",nnd pieces))n actual human "langu,,:ge games". But the question whether they
I eoretical perspective not trivial, either. In particular, the dependence of the do so is' completely independent of the question as to how the structures in
theorem on the rules of the interrogative games is a su btJe matter hideed 29. question were defined in the first place. ,

There is a deeper assumption at, however. My formulation of More constructively, we can ask: What is the impact of the logical theory
e interrogative model was in a certain sense in terms of language use. 1pos- of identification on the entire tradition in the philosophy of language that was
tulated certain games played by two players. This seems to put us back on the largely started by Quine?, Needless to say (or, rather, to repeat), a full analysis
~I~pperY'slope which eventually leads all the way to psychologism and is impossible within the confines of one paper. Let me nevertheless indicate
,ciologism. For who are the players, realistically speaking? Some of my ..
one important perspective that opens here.
friends'have been greatly worried by my apparent personification of Nature in
28 Cases in point are the ancient Greek treatment of time, the contrast between the two over-
views that I have called the universality of language and language as calculus, belief in the 30 One serious fallacy here is a confusion as to what is involved in the use of language. It is
I-rege-Russell claim that natural language words like "is" are ambiguous. What might be called often thought that all use of languag~ depends on the peculiarities of language users, and that all
the statistical interpretation of modalities, and what I have dubbed the recursive paradigrn in lan- pragmatics !s.therefore a part of the psychology and sociology. This is a fallacy, for it is possible
age theory. In all these cases, uncovering the tacit presupposition has been helped by a logical to study the'abstract rules of language use on a purely logical and semanticallevel. Cf. here my
d conceptual analysis of the situation.
29 The crucial parameter here turns 'out to be which tautological disjunctions (S v

admitted to the left column. They have on intuitive meaning: the inquirer's range of attention
- S) are
papcr "Game-Theoretical Semantics as a Synthesis of Verificationist and Truth-Conditional
Meaning Tbeories", in Ernest LePore, editor, New Directions ill Semantics. Academic ~ress,
comprises the question whether S or not-S iff he or she is prepared to add the tautology
ithe list of (known or assumed) truths. Cf. here my paper, "Knowledge Representation and the
(~v - S)
London, 1987, pp. 23S-S8.
31 The same bias has made the understanding of Wittgenstein's language-games unneces-

l terrogative Model of Inquiry", in Marjorie Clay and Keith Lehrer, editors, Knowledge and
,:epticism, Westview Press, Boulder, 1989, pp. ISS-IS3.
sarily difficult. (It Is of course compounded by the later Wittgenstein's own arltisystematic atti-
tude.) Cf. here Merrill B. Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka, Investiga/ing, Wit/gens/ein, Basil
'Blackwell, OJ,(ford, 1986. ..
Jaakko Hintikka . Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis .
of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language 217
First, we nevertheless need a preliminary observation. Let us go back to
the general ideas of the interrogative model. Another way of looking at the determined) by the assumption of the Atomistic Postulate. This is most con-
logical theory of identifiability is to view it as a general logical model of lan- spicuous in the case of the hypothetico-d~ductive modei an.d the indu<::tuistic
guage learning. The Inquirer then becomes a language learner, and the an- model of science, but in subtler ways the same postulate has colored also
swers to the Inquirer's. questions become the input of the linguistic community Thoma~ Kuhn's theorizing. I hav.e also argue~ and, I dare say, shown that the
into the learning process. The initial premise T corresponds to the learner's real logic of experimental science cannot be understood on the basis of the .
innate linguistic ability. Atomistic Postulate. Instead, we have to assume that a class of answers is
It may seem that this is far too schematic a model to enable us to establish available to an experimental scientist which are general (not quantifier-free).
interesting specific results concerning language learning of the theory-Iaden- More fully expressed, they have at least the AE complexity (existential quan-
ness and fact-ladenness of meaning. Maybe so;. But certain important .tifier governed by. a universal one). These answers express. the functional
observations can nevertheless be made here. My interrogative model is not dependencies which a controlled experiment can reveal to a scientific inquirer.
fully defined before it is specified what the answers are that the Inquirer (the, This results necessitates a re-evaluation of much of the current philosophy
learner) can receive, Le., what the possible inputs into the learning process of science, a re-evaluation which largely remains to be carried out. The point I
are. And as soon as this question is raised, we become aware of a highly am making here is that the situation is analogous in the philosophy of lan-
important fact. Almost everybody has assumed, both in the philosophical dis- guage. The Atomistic Postulate is an unrealistic assumption also in language
cussion and in linguistic theorizing, that (in the jargon of my-interrogative theory.. There is no valid reason to assume that a ianguage. learner cannot use
model) the answers the Inquirer can receive are particular (Le., quantifier- in his or her acquisition process general linguistic regularities without deriving
free) propositions. In other words, the input into the process of language them inductively from a number of special cases. A suitable collection of\\'hat-
acquisition are particular truths about the language. I have called this assump- are usually considered as particular cases can be viewed as collectively
tion (strictly speaking, a closely related and nearly equivalent one) the Ato- revealing a functional dependence of the. same kind as a contr'olled experiment
mistic Postulate 32. can yield 37.
The Atomistic Postulate has been assumed virtually universally: by phi- Wh~t is less clear on the side of philosophy of language than on the side of
losophers and linguists alike. It is in effect adopted by Quine when he chooses the philosophy of science is precisely what it is that has to be rejected. Further
as his starting point "sensory stimuli" or "surface irritations" which he says patient work is undoubtedly needed here. Let me nevertheless put forward
one specific problem. One place where the Atomistic Postulate has tacitly
"exhaust our clues to an external world" 33. It is in effect assumed by
Chomsky when he takes the startingpoi'nt of linguistic theorizing competent influenced linguists' reasoning is in Chomsky's arguments for his universal
. ..grammar. The basic logic of his argument is naturally formulated by reference
speakers' intuitions.about the grammaticality or ungrammaticality of particu-
to the interrogative model. Chomsky argues in effect that inductive learning
. lar strings of symbols 34.And it is explicitly assumed in most formal models of
language learning 35 . from particular cases is far too slow a process to account for theJacts of lan-
guage acquisition in children. This corresponds to a case where the Atomistic
This general acceptance of the Atomistic Postulate in the philosophy of
language and methodology of linguistics has its counterpart in the philosophy Postulate is applicable. No general laws follow from such particular answers
alone, and consequently Chomsky envisages the model to have bee~ e~riched
and methodology of science. As I have shown elsewhere36,some of the most
by suitable inductive rules. Chomsky argues, undoubtedly correctly, that
important approaches to the philosophy of science have been motivated (not:
32 The atomistic postulate is the assumption mentioned in note 16above. they, too, are insufficient to account for the facts, especially for the speed of
33 Cf. Word and Object, op. cit., sees. 5-6. actual learning by children. Hence the only way out is to postulate a strong
34 Cf. Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Stn/ctures, Mouton, The Hague, 1957, and Chomsky's
papers in Jerry A. Fodor and Jerrold J. Katz, editors, The Structure of Language, Prentice-Hall,
EngelwoodCliffs,NJ, 1964. .
3' Cf., e.g. Kenneth Wexler and Peter W. Culicover, Formal Principles of Language
Acquisition, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1980.
- 36 Op. cit., note 16above. Cf. also "The Concept of Induction in the Light of the Interroga-

tive Approach to Inquiry," in J. Fetzer, D. Shatz and G. Schlesinger, editors, Definitions and
37 Interim generalizations are known to play an important role in language learning. They
are usually thought of as inductive generalizations from particular examples. It is in ma~y ways
more natural logically speaking to consider them as answers to the language learner's tacit ques-
Definability, Kluwer Academie, Dordrecht, 1991.
tions, however, just like nature's answers to experimental questions.
/~ ,

218 Jaakko Hintikka

initial premise T. What that is in Chomsky's scheme is precisely the universal

grammar 38. . ::,.

Chomsky is right in thinking that the poverty of available answers can be

compensated for by a rich initial premise T. But, by the same token, tJIere is
no need to assume a strong initial premise T if enough logically stronger an-
swers are available to the Inquirer (learnel\ Thus Chomsky'~ argument
depends crucially on the assumptions a linguist can make about the avail~bi~- Overcoming "Overcoming Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis
ity of different kinds of "answers" to the language learner. If the AtomIstic of Language" Through Logical Analysis of Language
Postulate must be given up, as I have suggested, then Chomsky's argumenta-
Jaakko H1NTIKKA.
tion loses most of its prima facie plausibility.
Perhaps this line of thought can serve as an example of the way in which
the critical examination of an important theory".can enable a philosopher (or Summary
shouid I say ,a metaphysician?) to uncover substantial hidden presuppositions Carnap tried to overcome metaphysics through a distinction between empirical and con-
ceptual truths. The distinction has since been challenged, but not on the basis of a systematic
of ~minteresting theory. logical analysis of language. It is suggested here that the logical theory of identifiability based on
the author's interrogative model will provide the tools for such a systematic analysis. As an
example of what the model can do, a criticism is offered of Quine's and. Chomsky's implicit
assumption that language learning is based on atomistic (quantifier-free) "answers" (input).
Carnap a essaye de depasser la metaphysique par une distinction entre des veriles empiriques
.. et des verites conceptuelles. Cette distinction a ensuite ete contestee, mais non sur la base d'une
analyse systematique du langage. On suggere ici que la theorie logique de I'identiriabilite basee
sur Ie modele il1terrogatif de I'auteur fournira les outils d'une telle analyse systematique. Comme
exemple de ce que peut faire ce modele, on presente une critique de la supposition implicite de
Quine et de Chomsky selon laquelle I'apprentissage du langage repose sur des <m!ponses» (input)
atomiques (sans quantificateurs).

Carnap.versuchte Metaphysik durch eine Unterscheidung zwischen elJ)pirischen und konzep-
. tuellen Wahrheiten zu Uberwinden. Seither wurde die Unterscheidung immer wieder angegriffen,
jedoch nicht auf der Basis einer systematischen logischen Analyse der Sprache. In vorliegendem
Artikel wird vorgeschlagen, dass eine logische Theorie der Identifizierbarkeit, welche auf dem
Frage-Antwort-Modell des Autors grUndet, die Instrumente fUr eine solche logische Analyse
bereitstellt. Als Beispiel dafUr, was das Modell leisten kann, dient eine Kritik an Quines und
Chomskys impliziter Voraussetzung, dass das Erlernen von Sprache .auf atomaren (quantoren-
freien)«Antworten»aufbaut (Input). '

The "theme of this meeting is "metaph~sics and science". 1 suppose that

what is meant could equally well have been expressed by "the relatiol) of
met.aphysicsto science". But before we can discuss what that relation is, we
have to ascertain that there is such a t~ing as metaphysics that could bear
some conceivable relation to science or to anything else.
38 For Chomsky's notion of universal grammar, see the symposium with Chomsky, Put.nam
and Goodman in Syntlrese vol. 17 (1967), pp. 2-28 (with further references). · Boston University

Vol. 45, N° 2-3 (t991) Dialectica Vol. 45, N° 2-3 (1991)