A seminar of philosophy (Strawson, Individuals, pp. 180-202)     by Mori

6. Subject and predicate (2): logical subjects and particular objects
0. [Introduction]
“I think it is possible to give a complete theoretical explanation of this association which the grammatical criterion and the category criterion appear to have for each other.”
1. The introduction of particulars into propositions
[Part of the answer to our question]
“The term-introducing expression indicates, or is meant to indicate, what term is introduced by its means.”
[The conditions of introducing a particular into a proposition]
*Strawson shows three conditions.
“One condition is that there should be a particular which the speaker is referring to; another is that there should be a particular which the hearer takes him to be referring to; a third is that the speaker’s particular should be identical with the hearer’s.”
*Next Strawson pays attention to the first.
“[T]here should be a particular answering to the description used by the speaker, if he uses a description.”
“If we abstract from the force of the definite article in a given speech-situation, there may be many particulars which are fitted by the description the speaker uses or the description he would substitute for the name he uses.”
*Strawson considers not simply what the speaker says, but also the conditions of his doing what he does by what he says.
“For him to be referring to just one particular, it is not enough that there should be at least one particular which his description fits. There must be at most one such particular which he has in mind.”
[The summary above]
“[I]n order for identifying reference to a particular to be made, there must be some true empirical proposition known, in some not too exacting sense of this word, to the speaker, to the effect that there is just one particular which answers to a certain description.” (Underlined is difficult for me to comprehend.)
Given a difference of meaning: “[A] similar condition must be satisfied for a hearer, in order for it to be the case that there is some particular which the hearer takes the speaker to be referring to.”
*Strawson has used the term ‘identifying reference’ for “its familiarity and convenience”.
“We can substitute the neutral terminology of term-introduction without in any way altering the substance of what has been said.”
[Next condition]
“Let us now inquire what similar conditions, if any, must be satisfied in order for a universal term to be successfully introduced into a proposition.”
*1) Suppose ‘φ’ (‘φ’ is an adjectival form of expression)
2) look for some empirical proposition which must be true in order for the universal term putatively introducible by ‘φ’ to be introduced at all
3) A sufficient condition is the general empirical proposition that something or other is φ in one hand, and nothing is φ in another.
4) We may obtain a necessary condition: either something is φ or nothing is φ. This is a tautology.
We find that there are no such parallel conditions which can be generally insisted on.”
[An objection against above and Strawson’s answer]
OBJECTION: “[W]e can find an empirical condition of the successful introduction of the universal term by means of the expression ‘φ’: viz. the condition that the proposition expressed in the words, ‘something is φ’ is a significant empirical proposition, and is unambiguously understood by both speaker and hearer.”
Strawson: “[T]he condition is in no sense parallel to that which we found to be necessary for the introduction of a particular.”
[Another objection]
OBJECTION: “[I]n practice, empirical propositions of the form, ‘something is φ’, would not acquire their significance unless at least a preponderant proportion of them were also true. Therefore, the contrast between the conditions of particular-introduction and the conditions of universal-introduction is by no means as marked as [Strawson has] claimed.”
[Strawson’s first reply]
“The kind of proposition the truth of which is universally required for the introduction of a particular term is a kind of proposition which states a quite definite fact about the world, something that might, as it were, belong to history. But the kind of proposition the truth of which may be required for universal-introduction to be possible is a quite indefinite sort of fact.”
[Second reply]
About particular-introduction: “It is not only universally necessary that an empirical proposition of a sharply definite kind should be true in order for the introduction of a particular to be effected. It is also necessary for a proposition of that kind to be known to be true. For only so are the conditions of identifying reference to just one particular fulfilled; only so are the conditions of identification, on the speaker’s or hearer’s part, fulfilled.”
About universal-introduction: “It may be the case that the words used for identifying the universal terms introduced could acquire their meaning only if most of the universals so introduced were in fact instantiated. But once the words have acquired their meaning, however they acquire it, it is by no means necessary, in order for them to perform the function of identifying the universal term they introduce, that their users should know or believe empirical propositions to the effect that the universal terms in question are in fact instantiated.”
[The summary above]
“The identifying introduction of either a particular or a universal into discourse entails knowing what particular or what universal is meant, or intended to be introduced, by the introducing expression.”
“Knowing what particular is meant entails knowing, from the introducing expression used, some empirical fact which suffices to identify that particurar, other than the fact that it is the particular currently being introduced. But knowing what universal is meant does not in the same way entail knowing any empirical fact: it merely entails knowing the language.”
[The qualification that concerns the way in which the universal term is introduced]
“[I]t is a universally necessary condition of the introduction of any particular term into discourse, that there should exist, and be known, a true empirical proposition of certain very definite kind, whereas it is not a necessary condition of the introduction of a universal term into discourse that there should exist, and be known, a true empirical proposition of any parallel kind.”
[The distinction between two expressions]
(1) Expressions such that one cannot know what they introduce without knowing some distinguishing empirical fact about what they introduce
(2) Expressions such that one can very well know what they introduce without knowing any distinguishing empirical fact about what they introduce
“Both kinds of expression are incomplete. For introducing a term is only a part of making a statement.”
“Yet expressions of class (1) have evidently a completeness, a self-sufficiency, which expressions of class (2) lack.”
[The grammatical criterion for a predicate-expression]
“The predicate-expression introduces its term in the coupling, propositional style, in the explicitly incomplete style which demands completion into an assertion.”
“We have a contrast between something which in no sense presents a fact in its own right but is a candidate for being part of a statement of fact. It is appropriate enough that in the explicit assertion constituted by both taken together, it should be the former which carries the propositional symbolism, the symbolism that demands completion into an assertion.”
[A new criterion for the subject-predicate distinction]
“A subject-expression is one which, in a sense, presents a fact in its own right and is to that extent complete. Apredicate-expression is one which in no sense presents a fact in its own right and is to that extent incomplete. We find that this new criterion harmonizes admirably with the grammatical criterion.”
“We find an additional depth in Frege’s metaphor of the saturated [gesättigt] and the unsaturated [ungesättigt] constituents.” (I cannot comprehend what means.)
[The new criterion harmonizes with the category criterion.]
(1) “[T]he whole burden of that section was that particular-introducing expressions can never be incomplete in the sense of the new criterion, and thus can never be predicate-expressions on that criterion.”
(2) “[I]t was shown in that section that many universal-introducing expressions are incomplete in the sense of the new criterion and thus qualify, on that criterion, as predicate-expressions.”
[The affinity between the grammatical criterion and the category criterion for subject and predicates]
“These considerations explain the traditional, persistent link in our philosophy between the particular-universal distinction and the subject-predicate (reference-predication) distinction.”
“[O]nce the fundamental association has been made, the analogies I spoke of earlier may be allowed to carry the burden of further extensions and modifications of the problematic distinction. The analogies I mean in this case are those that hold between non-relational, characterizing ties binding particulars and universals on the one hand, and non-relational ties binding universals and universals on the other.”
[One further piece of explanation]
“[E]xpressions introducing complex terms such as I have referred to as ‘universal-cum-particulars’, may be classified as predicate-expressions.”
“[S]uch expressions do not themselves, as wholes, possess this completeness, though each contains a part which does.”
“[T]he crucial idea of completeness remains vague.”
“What precise account can be given of the relations between term-introducing expressions which are, in relevant sense, complete, and the facts or propositions which confer upon them their completeness?”
“How is the content of these facts or propositions determined by, or otherwise related to, the actual term-introducing expressions used?”
In simple cases: “Suppose I say, pointing, ‘that person there can direct you’.”
“The term-distinguishing fact is that there is just one person there, where I am pointing.”
“[I]f there is no one at whom I could be taken to be pointing, my putatively term-introducing expression fails of a reference and my statement fails of a true-value. In such cases, then, we have a clear enough sense of presupposition, and a clear enough indication of what is presupposed by the use of the term-introducing expression.”
In a less simple case (case that our term-introducing expression is the proper name of a particular)
“Clearly it is not required, for term-introduction by such means, that there should be just one object or person which bears the name. Nor can we be satisfied with the answer that the presupposed fact is the fact that there is just one object or person which both bears the name and is being currently referred to by its means.”
“For the previous argument requires the ‘presupposed’ fact to be some true empirical proposition known to the speaker which he might cite in order to indicate which particular he has in mind; and this cannot be the fact that there is just one he has in mind.”
[The situation in which a reference is made to S by name]
*Strawson thinks “it would be a mistake to conclude that the notion of presupposition is irrelevant to our question in the case of names.”
“[B]oth speaker and hearer, in this situation (the situation in which a reference is made to S by name), satisfy the conditions for successful term-introduction if each knows some distinguidhing fact or facts about S, facts which each is prepared to cite to indicate whom he now means, or understands, by ‘S’.”
“[T]o put what is really the same question in another form, what are the conditions of my correctly describing them as ‘facts about S’ the name?”
(1) “Suppose we take a group of speakers who use, the name ‘S’, with the same reference.
(2) “Suppose we then ask each member of the group to write down what he considers to be the salient facts about S, and then form from these lists of facts a composite description incorporating the most frequentlymentioned facts.”
(3) “[I]t requires that there should exist only one person of whom some reasonable proposition of these propositions is true.”
[A presupposition-set of propositions]
“The propositions making up the composite description of S would form a presupposition-set of propositions.”
“It will be obvious that the range of actual cases is by no means exhausted by the two examples I have chosen: demonstrative-cum-descriptive indication on the one hand, and a proper name on the other.”
[Next argument]
“Having said this, we can safely, for the sake of a name, speak of such term-distinguishing facts or propositions as ‘presupposed’ by the use of those term-introducing expressions; and turn, in conclusion, to consider one more point.”
“Very often the resulting statements would themselves contain expressions introducing particular terms.”
*This doesn’t mean infinite regression. ← “For we can always count on arriving, in the end, at some existential proposition, which may indeed contain demonstrative elements, but no part of which introduces, or definitely identifies, a particular term, though the proposition as a whole may be said to present a particular term.”
“All the theory requires is that expressions introducing particulars, unlike expressions introducing universals, should always be complete in a certain sense; and that sense is explained when it is shown how those expressions must always carry an empirical presupposition. The requirement that they should carry such a presupposition is satisfied just as fully in the cases where the presupposed propositions themselves contain expressions introducing particulars as in the cases where they do not.”
[An objection against above]
Strawson’s argument:
(1) Claim for the investigation into the conditions of introducing a particular term into a proposition by means of a definitely identifying expression
(2) The possibility of such term-introduction rests upon knowledge of some term-distinguishing fact
“If we formulated propositions expressing such knowledge, they would be found either to contain expressions themselves introducing other particular term, or at least to involve quantification over particulars; and it can plausibly be argued that sentences involving quantification over particulars could have no place in language unless definitely identifying expressions for praticulars also had a place in language. But if this is so, how can I claim to have stated the conditions which must be satisfied for the introduction of a particular by means of a term-introducing expression?”
[Strawson’s reply]
“[This objection] fails through not distinguishing between (1) an account of the conditions-in-general of the use in language of expressions introducing particular terms, and (2) a doctrine concerning the conditions of the use, on any particular occasion, of an expression introducing a particular term.”
“[T]he distinction overlooked by the objection might be described as that between (1) an account of the conditions of the introduction of particulars into discourse in general, and (2) an account of the identifying introduction of a particular into a given piece of discourse.”
[Consideration to a certain philosophical proposal]
“The proposal in question may present itself as a form of analysis of propositions containing expressions which introduce particular terms; or it may present itself in the guise of a description of an ideal language in which referring expressions for particulars do not occur, their place being taken by the bound variables of existential quantification.”
*In Quine’s description, such a language is a language from which all singular terms are eliminated.
“The sentences in which they occur are replaced by existentially quantified sentences with a uniqueness condition.”
“[This idea] enables us to give an absolutely precise sense to the idea of that mixture of ‘completeness’ and ‘incompleteness’ which expressions introducing particulars necessarily have.”
(1) There is something which uniquely F
This form represents the completeness.
(2) There is something which uniquely F and which...
Additional relative pronoun represents incompleteness.
“The second relative pronoun is followed by the predicate-expression which completes the whole assertion and which, in the ordinary singular-term-encumbered language, follows the singular term.”
“[A] logical subject-expression (= a refferring expression of ordinary language) is whatever dissolves into a quantified assertion, plus a relative pronoun in the ideal language.”
“A predicate-expression is what does not dissolve, and so has an absolute incompleteness, i.e. a propositional incompleteness which cannot be removed by the simple expedient of dropping a relative pronoun.”
“Now all expressions introducing particulars dissolve in the way descripted, and hence cannot but be logical subject-expressions.”
[Analysis and ordinary language]
“[T]he linguistic terms in which the analysis is couched are terms which, if we are to understand them in the way we are invited to, presuppose the existence of subject-expressions, of linguistic singular terms.”
“There are, in ordinary speech, various forms of indefinite reference to particulars, an extential claim followed by a relative pronoun. (…) These forms have a place, a role, in language which is to be brought out or elucidated in contrast with the place, or role, in language which linguistic singular terms have. No sense can be attached to the idea that they can have the place they have even if there is no such place. But this is the idea we are invited to accept when we are invited to see all subject-expressions dissolving into, or being replaced by, such forms.”
“[O]rdinary predicate-expressions can of course be coupled with those various forms of indefinite reference, and of existential claim followed by a relative pronoun, which appear in ordinary language. But, once again, these forms have the place they have in ordinary language only because singular terms, subject-expressions, have the place they have there.”
“So we cannot both accept the invitation to look on the expressions which replace the ‘F’s and ‘G’s in the quantified sentences as ordinary predicate-expressions and at the same time acquiesce in the total dissolution of subject-expressions into the forms of the quantified sentences.”