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DesfripJive 'fnd Revisionary Metaphysics ,5 S~wso~'s conceptions of space and time are essentially, Ne~pian, hcrad's (with certain qualif1cations) Einsteinian. ~t~ '"

23,

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. 'p;'~~ ;,~ '". .. ' ,".-.'

2 Individuals

Descriptivel:and
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1f',

Revisz~on:~ry;',
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Met.aphysics' Susan J-Iaack


1 IDtroduction
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$trawson's investigation ot::'our conceptual scheme' bas two stages; (1) he ~es for. \he central iimportance of the subject-:predicate distinctiOn,iand for the..iole of<particy1arsas objects of reference, concluding that, in our conceptual schem~ parti~, in virtue of their status as 'paradigm logical subjects', have priority overumversals; (2) ~~ argues for the priority of material bodies and persons over other par,rlculars.' " "Olltological priority is' defmed in terms of our capacity to picbout and' talk aboutthings; Strawson suggests that Identifiability of at least some individuals of a g!v~nkind.is necessary for the inclusion of that kind in our ontology, and thus ,connects identifiability with ontological commitment, and identifiability-depend, en~ with 'priority of ontological commitment. Briefly:
~

..

I first read Whitehead's Concept of Nature (published in 1919) when I was already (ound it,har~ to
Individuals (published in 19.5?),-an41 acquaintCd'with'Sttawson's sJ:u'ewd cnuqQe o(.~trawson s auns, resist reading Whitehead's work as a ~~~r two ~ults.1 This suggested tl!at, a study of?te cqn~AA be~een ~e .metb,~l\Od

books ~Rt be~,a,~


descrip~F

metaphy!lics

parison pr9ved less ,straightforward than I anticipated, thro~g difficult;,questions underlying the distinction between d~pt1~e the ~orprogramm,es, and an ~tidy
quesu0l.l!!"

of~tr;1~son s claim that s~~ ~int ,(or,~. ~pP'raisa.1 com~ ,pnonty ovc;r ,reV1S1onarymetaphrS1~. But ~e some

A's are ontologically prior to B's iff it would be impossible for us to identifyB's unless we could identify A's, but not vice versa. A speaker,makes an identifyi1Jgreferenceto a particular if he uses an expression (name or defmite description) the standard function of which is to enable ti1eI\earer .to identify that particular. ' ;~, r;:,i:.,,Abeare,r id~ntifies ('hidentifles') the particular if either:
' "

~.

"

mto reli~~ and,reV1S1onary ,...


,-

',('\,

.(i)

he can sensibly discriminate

it (demonstrative

hi<ientif1calion);

.,

!J.~r (ii)he

metaphysics..Sothis paper bas a tidy first half, presentingthe contrasts~tween


second half, as~g
!

so~e of the 'difficult


.:,:
I.

~
or...etc.

knows, an indi~4uating fact about it which relates it tC,"sOIrie o~er particular which he can demonstratively hidentify; he kn~ws an individuating fact about it which re~tCs it to aIi " ' individual such that (ii);, ,
'

The

..

"

contrastsare these: ..:., ~~;1:.


~

'nI," .~, sp'~er. ide~tif1~ (~~identifles')~ particular if he ~eS


;

"

an iden!#~g
,,' ",;

structur~ of oUr ," 1 'S~son' iUms1'to'-inv~tigate 'our ,oon~ptUai sche~e', ~~ ne~ C01;lceptu~; ~: thought about 'the world~'Whitehead to pro~~ ~ ~..sffie a4eq~~ "to th~ purp?ses0f scien~; ~.e..Straw,son is ,engaged m ,>'". descriptive, Whitehead m reV1S1onary, metaphys1cs., 2 StnJ,wsontakes 'our conceptual scheme' to have been constant ov~~e ~d betWeen different languages, 'while Whitehead regards it as,onl~ an histon~ andilOca1. accident; i.e. Strawson maintains, but Whi~eh~ demes, a conce twd~invariance thesis., 3 Sttawso~'s criterion of ontological priority is given in terms of identifiabili ", '... whitehead's in terms of observability. 4 In:'Strawson's ontology material bodies (and persons)_ are given pn?nty o~er or pr~ses; m WJ:Ute~ceptual objects, unobservable objects, and events
, '

Jfk~ ,out only as those being talked about by the speaker; never te,rminating in ' ( emonstrative hidentif1~tion is disallowed. ..,,:
~fi:.. -.

erence tpJh\\'~~ enablesthe h~er to hidentify it. ' ~9ry-re1ati:v~ jqen.Rfi~tion id~ntif1cation relative to a"range 9fparttc~ .

'

. ;:~:>g~..argues tha~ when a hearer hidentif1es an individual inpkectly" the ,d~!JI}g f~t he nee~,,~ know about i~ will have to be ~ .fac~,abou~~ts 19~J?'?ral, r~lations to Something demonstratively hidentifiabl~.~,So; since ,;:ft:iatiY!r;identif1cation is exclud,ed, any item which can ~ hid~tified must or ,be spatiote~poral1y related to, an item within thehearer'li ;aqd ~. be"
.
", jngJe, unified, spatiotemporal system. ! frame~ork, ~trawson continues, material bodies,are'oqto.~gically ;Within ,or.,to,pnvate paruculars ~pch as sense data,2 and to unobservable particulars such as the theoretical entities of physics. This isn't surprising, for sidentification
'

.,~'~ sensory

range. lI~nce, it is 'not contingent'

that empirical reali!:)' forms

h~'s

events are given priority over objects, an?, am~ng obJect;s, s~nse objects

<I'

ov~r physical objects; i.e. Strawson's ontological hierarchy 1Svutually thc;"\ reverse ofWbitehead's.

24

Methodology and OntologicalCommitment

Descriptiveand Revisionary Metaphysics

25

is defined with respect to a two-person situation, w~ich puts publi.c at

~ ad~ant-

age over private particulars, and it must terminate 10 demonstra~ve hldennficaAmong tion, which puts observable at an advantage over u~observ,ablep~cul~s., publicly observable particulars, the argument ~~nnues, mat~nal bodIes (thr~edimensional objects occupying space and perslsnng through nme) are ontologIcally prior to events, processes and states; for identification of ~ven~ n01'~ally proceeds by identification of material bodies, or else b~ mean~ of Idennficanon of places which, in turn, are identified by means of matenal b.odles;~urthermore, ~eidentification of events requires re-identification of matenal ~d.les, but not V1~e versa. This is more disputable than the argument for the pnonty of the public over the private and the observable over the unobservable: fo~ tho~gh even~ might generally be identified by reference to the persons or .th1Ogs1Ovolve~10 them ('the first time this pencil was used') or to the place at which they occur ( the battle of Hastings'), a person or thing is sometimes identifi~d by ~eference to ~o~e event in which it participates ('the murder weapon') - whIch raIses the SUspICIon that there may be no unique direction of identifiability dependence as between events and bodies. And this suspicion is of some interest in view of the fact that Whitehead places events above bodies in his ontological hierarchy.

a simultaneity; a simultaneity has temporal thickness and is an ultimate factor in Nature, i.e. observable. A moment is all Nature at an instant; an instant has no temporal thickness and is unobservable, an abstraction. By means of the 'method of extensive abstraction', relying on the relation of extending over which holds between durations, Whitehead def10es a moment as a class of ever shorter durations which converge to it as a limit. Then the relation of extending over is applied to events (which have spatial as well as temporal thickness); the method of extensive abstraction is used to define event particles, which are the limit of the gradual, diminution of the temporal and the spatial extent of events. Eventparticles are the ultimate elements of a four-dimensional spatiotemporal manifold, so that 'space and time are each partial expressions of one fundamental relation between events which is neither spatial nor temporal'. So, in effect, Whitehead reverses Strawson's order of ontological priority among particulars: events are primary; objects, which are abstracted from events, are secondary; and among objects, sense objects are more fundamental than physical objects.

4 Comparative Remarks
Is there

3 The Concept of Nature


Whitehead would agree, in large measure, with Strawson's account of 'our co~ceptual scheme'; 'materialism', Whitehead observes, is thoroughly entrenched 10 our ordinary ways of speaking. But Whitehead does not re~d ~our co~ceptual scheme' as privileged; he regards it as an unfortunate histoncal acc.:ldent~a consequence of the subject-predicate strUcture of Greek, and then of Aristotelian logic, which encouraged a conception of substance as the ultimate substratum not predicated of anything else. Whitehead would replace our conceptual scheme by . another more adequate for the purposes of science. For science deals with 'what we obse~e in perception through the senses' ('Nature'), while ~terialism l~ds !o the postulation of a fundamental ontological category - substance - whIch IJes
behind

..

,.

results dIffer so strikingly just because their aims are different? I think there is a real rivalry, disguised by a deep-seated ambiguity in Strawson's book. On the one hand, Strawson allows that revisionary metaphysics is feasible and valuable; he admits the possibility that others with very different experience might have a different conceptual scheme from 'ours'; and he claims no deep metaphysical significance for his criterion of ontological priority. On the other hand, he attributes priority to descriptive over revisionary metaphysics; he urges that 'our' conceptual scheme is 'indispensable'; and he takes what is, in his sense, ontologically prior, to be what 'primarily exists'. Compare:
modest the best revisionary metaphysics is both intrinsically admirable and of enduring philosophical utility. (Individuals, p. 9)

~real

rivalry

between

Strawson's.and

Whitehead's

enterprises,

or do their

what is sensorily disclosed. In Whitehead's

favoured ontology, by contrast,

the category of events is most fundamental; we are sensorily aware. of events, which we then discriminate, in thought, into individuals with propernes. Whitehead characterizes an event as 'the specific character of a place through a period of time' (it may, but need not, involve c~ge): so the thesis that what we are sensorily aware of is events amounts to the clatm tha.t what ,!,e se~e h~ ~th spatial and temporal thickness. Reflection on sense expenence ddTere~nates It.mto 'factors', among which Whitehead distinguishes sub-events and objects; objects are further classified into sense objects (colours, shapes, smells, etc.), perceptual objects (associated sense objects) and physical objects (veridical ~rceptual objects), and of these, since physical objects presuppose perceptual objects, and perceptual objects sense objects, sense objects ar~ the most ~~amental. Space and time are abstractions from certam characte~s~cs of events, ~e 'constants of externality'. A duration is a whole of Nature hmlted only by bemg

ambitious revisionary metaphysics is at the service of descriptive metaphysics... which needs no justification at all . . .(p. 9) . . . there are categories and concepts which. . . change not at all. (p. 10) I may perhaps be said to have found some reason in the idea that persons and material bodies are what primarily exist. (p. 241)

.. . our

concept of reality might. . . have

been different, had the nature of our experience been fundamentally different. (p. 29)

. . . in saying that material bodies are basic.. . I am not saying that they exist in a primary sense, or that only theyare real. (p. 59)

Descriptive and Revisionary Metaphysics

27

26

Methodology and Ontological Commitment the 'difficult questions' rais~~ by the distinction between descriptive and revIsIonary metaphysics ~escrip~ve m~~physics is content to describe-the actual content of our thought about ~~)10nary metaphysics is concerned to produ~ a better structure. (Indiv~:::~ p:

(and consider Strawson's ambiguous dismissal of the concept of process-thing, which 'we neither have nor need'). The bridge from the modest to the ambitious enterprise is the conceptual invariance thesis, a thesis introduced when Strawson replies to the anticipated objection that metaphysics should resist, or promote, conceptual change, that there is a 'massive central core of concepts' which 'have no history'. Though he doesn't, unfortunately, tell us which these concepts are, he is .confident that:
there are categories and concepts which, in their most fundamental characters, change not at all. Obviously these are not the specialities of the most refmed thinking; they are the commonplaces of the least refined thinking; and yet are the indispensable core of the conceptual equipment of the most sophisticated human beings. It is with these. . . that a descriptive metaphysics will be primarily concerned. (p. 10). So 'our conceptual scheme' is common to different times and different languages. The modest picture of descriptive metaphysics is of various alternative conceptual schemes, one of which is 'ours'. But if there is conceptual invariance over time and between languages~ there are no such alternatives. The way we do think of the world is the only way we could think of the world; and the revisionary metaphysician is recommending to put it, as Strawson does not, blundy that

. Strawson's distinction is far more problematic than this ch ara ct'enzabon suggests. Among ~e questions it raises are these: is a concept? How are concepts individuated? What is a conceptual scheme? ~t ow are conceptual schemes individuated? What is the relation between a language and a conceptual scheme? How are langua ges individuated ? Wh 0 are th e ur conce~tu al sc. h eme? 'we' ' Is descriptive metaphysics possible?4 Is re. . of '0m~~physlcs VISIOnary possible? What could it mean to say that one conce tual scheme IS better' than another? Is one looking for the, o~ a, true conce . scheme? Or maght one conceptual scheme be appropriate for one, and anoth:r for another purpose? If the latter, are there any constraints on the kinds 0f purpose that could be relevant?

we think of-the world differendy from the way we must think of it. Whiteh~d, of course, rejectS the conceptual invariance thesis;
, the materialist theory is a purely intellectual rendering of experience which has had the luck to get itself formulated at the dawn of scientific thought. It has dominated . . . the language of science since science flourished in Alexandria, with the result that it is now hardly possibleto speak at all without appearing to assume its immediate obviousness. . . . But when it is distinctiyformulated. . . the theory is very far from obvious (The Conceptof Nature, p. 71, my italics)

The remarks which follow are intended to make a start some only some - of these questions. .

- only a start - ~t tacklin g

(1) Strawson's enterprise depends upon the assumption of some ~nnection between the langua~e spoken by a group of people, and their conceptual scheme - the Con~ct'on Assumption (C.A.). Local descriptive metaphysics (Strawson's (c:J.
.

est enterpnse) ~ d.iffe

needs the assumption that different c.s.'s are connected with


.

r;nt langu~ges - ~e Local Connection Assumption; global descriptive metaphy. SICS( ~wson s amblbous enterprise) the assum p tion that the same C.S.IScon-

- th~Glo~a/ c.0nnectionAssumption. (The global C.A. is nectedWIthall Ianguages .

'Our conceptual scheme' is a local, and temporary,-!ccident. Strawson's critics have urged, like Whitehead, that the Conceptual invariance thesis is false: Burtt points to the radical changes which the concept of cause has undergone since Aristode; Mei argues that the subject-predicate distinction, at least as Strawson formulates it, does not apply in Chinese; Burtt also refers to Whorf's work on American Indian languages, especially Nookta, which, according to Whorf, has no subject-predicate distinction at all, and Hopi, which, according to Whorf, carries a metaphysic in which events rather than objects are basic, and in which there is no differenCe of category between space and time.3 It is tempting to conclude that the truth of the conceptual invariance thesis is sufficiendy doubtful to justify scepticism about Strawson's ambitious programme and acknowledgement of the pointfulness of revisionary metaphysics. But this conclusion would be too hasty; for the evidence for conceptual variance depends on disputable assumptions about tranSlation, the relations between language and metaphysics, the identity of concepts, and so forth. This leads

the mterlingulStic conceptual invariance thesis.) Whit~ me ffi ,ect, a restatement ~~ head s:a:ount o~the ongIDSof the materialist c.s., like Strawson's local descriptive ~etap YSICS, ~elies on ~e Local C.A. Whorf's work on the Hopi is local descri thesis of 'linguistic relativity' is a version of the bve metaphY~lcs, and C.A. So, If his con~luslons about the Hopi C.S.are correct, they falsify the Global C.~., :md. underma?e Straws~n's pretensions to global descriptive metaph sics' while If.his conclusIOns are rejected because the Local C.A. is denied this Ieniai ' undermanes Strawson's proj,ect of local descriptive metaphysics.

(2) ~at features of a language is a C.S.connected with, and how? Strawson ur~es at the relevant features are very general and rather deep grammatical traIts, and speaks as ~f ~e fact that a grammati~ feature is specific to a sin Ie language ~hows ~t It. IS not of the appropriate depth. This assumption uS:es Strawson m the dlfecbon of the Global C.A. Whorf, by contrast though ~e also appeals !o dec:p ra~er than superficial grammatical features, d~ not associate depth WIthu~ve~ty as between languages; hence his commitment to the Local C.A. Whorf s versIon of the local C.A. is not that each language has its own,

Descriptive and Revisionary


28 Methodology and Ontological Commitment diagnosis is co~ect; Whitehead languages may be associated with the same cannot be 'calibrated' are associated with all 'Standard Average European' languages Hopi with a quite different one. has succumbed unique c.s.; rather, that while distinct c.s., languages so different that they different c.s.'s he suggests, e.g. that are connected with the same c.s., but

Metaphysics to the nominalizing


.

29
tendency of
.

(3) The Connection between c.s. and language might be either strong or weak; i.e. the C.A, might take the form: (strong) if L has certain features, speakers of L must acknowledge a certain c.s.; or (weak) if L has certain features, it will be natural, though not compulsory, for speakers of L to acknowledge a certain c.s. Whitehead's diagnosis of the provenance of the materialist metaphysics relies on a weak local C.A.; his Qbservation that his use of unfamiliar terminology is deliberate policy, to avoid the metaphysical preconceptions that a less innovative style would bring, is pertinent here. Whorf sometimes claims a strong connection, remarking that the c.s. of a speaker's native language is 'absolutely obligatory' for him. His allegiance to the strong C.A. is associated with a. tendency to claim failure of tranSlatability betwen languages strongly connected with different c.s.'so But after claiming that this or that Hopi locution is 'untranSlatable' into SAE languages, Whorf invariably goes on to translate it, albeit into somewhat strangulated English. This raises many questions: does 'calibrate' mean 'tranSlate' or 'tranSlate smoothly'? And if L were comrletely untranslatable into our language, should we count it as language at all? How is one to obtain evidence of how people think about the world which is independent of the way they talk. about theworld?6 Isn't there a danger that tranSlation will impose the c.s. of the tranSlator? Though, because of these unanswered questions, IjCaIl't offer a fum conclusion about which, if any, version of the C.A. is correct, I can offer comments on a . couple of relevant examples. (a) Opponents of racism have drawn attention to the prejudicial character of
certain linguistic forms

English. '. . ~t~head lays ~art of the blame for the ascendancy of the subject-predicate dlStm~?n ?n the mf1ue~ce of Aristotelian logic. But in this respect (despite its supenonty m the expressIOnof relations) modem logic isn't notably different. On the us~, ?bj~tual interpretation quantifiers range over, and singular terms denote~ obJects. .Only expressions which stand where it would be syntactically proper to put a smgular term can be genuine variables, i.e. can be bound. The syn~ exerts .a n,ominalizing, the semantics a corresponding objectifying pressure. Consider Q!Une s arguments why, if one treats predicate or sentence letters as variables, o~e is obliged to think. of' F' and 'p' as syntactically like singular terms, and as rangmg over abstract obJects, properties and propositions' or Davidson's ~ch for an appropriate singular term for the 'it' in 'he did it slow'ly,with a knife the bathroom, ~t ~dnight'. 8 (Historical parenthesis: Peirce argued that th; ~ influ~n~ of nom:nalis.m ~n. modem. philosophy had been so pervasive that nommalism and nommalisttc platomsm' - the reification of universals into abstract particulars - had come to seem the only alternatives to the exclusion of view of these o~servations, the alte~tive of interpreting bonaf.1de realism~. ~ q~ttfiers subs~tuttonally ~d allowing expressions of different syntactic categones as substttuends for different styles of variable has metaphysical as well as formal interest.
.

This, though sketchy,sufficesfor my present point: that there is somereasonto


suspect a nominalizing, objectifying-tendency, which suggests that there may be . ~ . something in a weak version of the C.A. If the strong global C.A. were trUe, there would be no genume alternative to 'our' c.s., and no sense in which a revisionary metaphysician cOuld produce a
'better' .c.s. But if there are alternative c.s.'s, there are questions to be asked about . the choice between them. (~) If c.s.'s are ~ought of as sets of concepts or categories, one would expect a terms o~ expressive adequacyj if, however, c.s. 's are thought of choice to be mad~ ~ as sets of proposlttons or beliefs, one would expect a choice to be made in terms of 9 In the latter case a further question would arise: are 'alternative' c.s. 's rivals, ~th. I.e. are they to be thought of as incompatible metaphysical theories or might alternative C.~.'s be both n:ue? Strawson seems to think of a c.s. as co~isting of a seto~ categones order~ Wlth respect to ontological priority; the ordering presumably mtr~uces a quasl-doctrinal element. When Whorf, on the other hand, claims better than SAE languages at describing vibratile phenomena, he seems tbatHo~1 ~ be thinking of a c.s. as composed of concepts rather than propositions.

- the

derogatory

flavour

of 'nigger'

or of the use of 'boy' to

refer to a black adult, for example. Opponents of sexism have suspected that the pervasiveness of gender distinctions in English may be similarly prejudicial.' However, Whorf observes that Chinese lacks distinctions of gender, and Professor Geach tells me that the same is trUe ofTurkishj and I don't suppose it will be disputed that neither the Chinese nor the Turks are especially noted for their freedom from sexism. This, I think, argues for caution about strong forms of the C.A. (b) Whitehead diagnoses the materialist metaphysic as due, in part, to the undue influence of the subject-predicate distinction. Strawson argues for the priority of material bodies, and appeals to the subject-predicate distinction in support of his ontological hierarchy. But something is amiss: for Strawson appeals,. to the subject-predicate distinction as supporting the priority of particulars oVeJ.'i universals, not as supporting the priority, among particulars, of bodies over events; yet it is on this point that his and Whitehead's hierarchi~ differ. S~, either the subject-predicate distinction is less closely connected Wlth the particular-universal distinction than Strawson thinks, or else Whitehead is less free of the subiect-predicate distinction than he supposed. My hunch is that the latter

~ow~ ~e ~dividuation of c.s.'s will require, direcdy or indirecdy, criteria f~r..~e .mdiVlduatton of concepts. And this raises a question I avoided earlier, in discussion of the conceptual in~ariance thesis: when is one to say that a concept . .bas changed, and when that It has been replaced by a new concept? (Has 'the concept of cause' changed from Aristode to Hume, or is Hume's a different concept from Aristode's? - the latter answer would enable' Strawson to defend

~(5)

Descriptive and Revisionary Metaphysics

31

30

Methodology and Ontological Commitment shown that neither ~e idea that two c.s.'s are different, nor the idea that they are the ~e, makes sense, his arguments seem to point, instead, to the conclusion that there is Just one conceptual scheme, i.e. to the Global C.A. 6 a. Bedau, H., review of Whorf, Philosophy ofS&ience 24 (1957). 7 See, e.g., Beardsley, E. Lane, 'Referential genderisation', in Womenand Philosophy, eds Go~~, <? ~~ ~artof~ky, M. W. (Putnam, 1976); and especially, Baker, R., "Pricks" m P?lo~op~y and S~x, ~. Baker, R. and Elliston, F. (Prometheus, and chicks : 1975). Baker, m an mtngumg exerCIse m revisionary metaphysics, draws interesting parallels between our talk of b~acksand our talk of women; but whereas, in the fonner case, he argues that a change m the way people think brought about a change in the way'they talk (the ~eliberate adoption of 'black'), in the latter case he argues that we should adopt a reV1Sedway of speaking (e.g. dropping sex-indicative pronouns) in ord~r to change the way people think about women. 8 ~e, W. V. 0., 'Logic and the reification of universals', in From a Logical Point of
VieW .

conceptUal invariance against Burtt's criticisms.) An adequate answer, furthermore, would evidendy call for an account of the concept of a concept. For now, though, I must content myself with some remarks about conceptUal change. There are two rival approaches, one static, the other dynamic. The latter, with which I sympathize, sees our concepts as the result of a long and continuing evolution, and as containing residues of earlier scientific and metaphysical theories. (This is Whitehead's view). When Sttawson envisages the possibility that the work of revisionary metaphysicians may fmd its way into our 'unrefmed' view of the world, and thus become a datUm for a modest descriptive metaphysics, he too is taking this approach. From this point of view, the prospect of further conceptUal ~ange is neither surprising nor alarming. The static pictUre, however, is associated,with the idea that proposals for conceptUal revision can be dismissed as symptoms of conceptUal confusion. Here is Geach's comment on the event ontology:
'at the same time' belongs not to a special science but to logic. Our practical grasp of this logic is not to be called into question on account of recondite physics... . A physicist who casts doubt upon it is sawing off the branch he sits upon.lO

tences, m The LogICof Decision and Action, ed. Rescher, N. (Pittsburgh University Pr~, 196?). See also Grover, D. L., 'Propositional quantifiers' Journal of Philoso' phICalLogICI (1972).
~

Tor~books, 1953);Davidson, D., 'The logical fonn of action sen-

hav~.ar:gued elsew~erethat confusionon this point vitiates Camap's argument in

,EmpmC1~, ~t1CS and ontology' (Revue Internationale de Philosophie4, 1950); see Some preliminaries to ontology', Journal of PhilosophicalLogic 5 (1976).
Press, 1965), in: Logic. Matters (Blackwell, 1972), p. 304.

The issues he raises are too large for me to tackle here. But I will reveal my sympathies by urging that we are not on a branch, as in Geach's metaphor, rather, on a raft, as in Neurath's. And if you object that this means we are all at sea, I reply that this is no worse, at any rate, than being up in the air.

10 Geach, P. !., '~me problems about time' (RoyalInstitute of PhilosophyLecture,


Oxford Umverslty

Notes
I have been helped by comments when' earlier versions of this paper were read at Warwick, Delaware, Cambridge, Southampton, and University College, LOndon. 1 Whitehead, A. N., The Concept of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 1919); StraWson, P. F., Individuals (Methuen, 1959). 2 Contrast Price, H. H., Thinking and Experience (Hutchinson, 1953), cbs 1 and 2. Price takes as his starting point the experience of a single person, and hence gives priority to repeatable 'characters', the properties by means of which particulars are recognized. The comparison with Price's enterprise shows that Strawson's investigation, in ch. 2., of whether one's conceptUal scheme might be different if one inhabited a world purely of assuming a single sounds, is inconclusive because he changes two relevant variables
consciousness whose experience consists entirely

of

sounds

- at once.

3 Burtt, E. A., 'Descriptive metaphysics', Mind LXXLL (1953); Mei, Tsu-Lin, 'Subject and predicate, a grammatical preliminary', PhilosophicalReview LXX (1961); Whorf, B. L., Language, Thought and Reality, ed. Carroll, J. B. (MIT Press, 1953); compare. Hacking, I. M., 'A language without particulars', Mind LXXVII (1968). 4 Observe that, for example, Strawson's claim that the concept of person is primitive is, in view of the traceS of Cartesian dualism in much of our talk about people, normative rather than purely descriptive. 5 a. Davidson, D., 'The very idea of a conceptUal scheme', Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association, 1973. Oddly, though Davidson claims to have