- P. F. Strawson
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- Peter Frederick Strawson
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- Introduction To Logical Theory
Peter Frederick Strawson — was an Oxford-based philosopher whose career spanned the second half of the twentieth century. He wrote most notably about the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology and the history of philosophy, especially Kant. Their applicability does not have to be earned by a reduction to a supposedly more basic and secure realm of concepts, such as those of experience as conceived of by the empiricists, or those of science.
There is no more basic or secure level of thought. He maintained, in various ways, that sceptical challenges to these categories are spurious and unwarranted. According to Strawson the proper task of metaphysics is to describe these indispensable notions and their interconnections. Peter Frederick Strawson was born, in London, on November 23, His philosophy tutors were J.
Mabbott, an eminent political philosopher, later to become Master of the college, and H. Strawson was then called up for military service and belongs to that generation of British philosophers, including Ayer, Hampshire, Hare, Hart and Wollheim, who saw service in the Second World War.
His first post after the war was at Bangor, in Wales, but, after winning the prestigious John Locke Prize in Oxford a prize awarded on the basis of a written examination to philosophy graduates in Oxford he received an appointment at University College, Oxford, which made him a Fellow in Writing extensively, in both books and articles, about the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy, he succeeded in redirecting Oxford philosophy away from the limitations which had to some extent been accepted under the influence of Austin, towards a re-engagement with some traditional and also some new abstract philosophical issues.
P. F. Strawson
He established from the early s onwards a pre-eminence within Oxford philosophy, both through his publications but also by his quite exceptional critical abilities. Simultaneously, Strawson established himself as one of the leading philosophers in the world. His achievements were recognised by election in to the British Academy, the reception of a knighthood in , and by many other honours.
In he became the twenty sixth philosopher to have a volume devoted to him in the famous Library of Living Philosophers series, adding another British name to the list of recipients of this honour, previous ones being Whitehead, Russell, Moore, Broad and Ayer.
He was probably the most famous and most discussed British philosopher within the academic world of philosophy from the s until the late s. Strawson was married and had four children. He was a highly cultured man, with a passion for literature, especially poetry, large amounts of which he could recite and which he also wrote.
In conversation, manners and appearance, the overwhelming impression was of elegance and effortless intelligence. Strawson retired in , but remained philosophically active until his death, in Oxford, on February 13, Like Frege, Russell and, later, Kripke, and Evans, Strawson made his name by writing about reference.
This undermines a number of responses to Strawson. Against this Strawson argued, first, that it is unsupported. Its having meaning cannot, therefore, depend on there being a referent for the apparent subject expression. According to Strawson, Russell infers from that to the conclusion that the semantic role of the apparent subject expression in such sentences i. If the circumstances are right then it can be used in a referring way, if they are not then the use might not succeed in being an act of reference.
He suggested that in such circumstances the use amounts neither to saying something true nor to saying something false. In subsequent discussion it became clear, not that this criticism is definitely mistaken, but that it is difficult to determine what the truth value of sentences involving referential failure actually is.
Quine and Strawson - Revision Video - MITRAS IAS
Whatever puzzles there may be about language and reference their solution cannot require us to deny such obvious facts. Why should I engage in a communicative act of that sort?
Strawson notes the issue about uniqueness but attends most to the assertion of existence problem.
It might be also asked whether there must be any such problematic implication of analyses of descriptions in terms of quantifiers conceived in a more sophisticated way that emerged only after Russell wrote. Strawson provides a detailed analysis of this function in the first chapter of Individuals , as well as in the article from which the quotation above comes. Finally, a notion that Strawson introduced in his own description of the nature of definite descriptions and which surfaces in the quotation is that of presupposition.
Strawson said that the use of a definite description standardly presupposes the existence of an object fitting the description even though it does not say, nor therefore entail, that there is such an object. This concept met with resistance amongst philosophers but has had a colossal influence on linguists, who have tended to see it as a useful concept in the description of language see Huang , ch.
This encourages us to ask whether it is more likely that linguists or philosophers have the better insight into language. The other very important debate that Strawson was involved in the early s was that with Austin about truth.
Viewed in terms of the politics of Oxford philosophy at that time the debate perhaps represents a power struggle between Austin, the hitherto acknowledged leader and Strawson the younger challenger. Strawson, in criticism, principally alleges that Austin had no clear conception of what the supposed referential conventions link sentences with. Is it objects — say the television? But if it is an object then that is not a state of affairs, and certainly not a fact.
Strawson also argues that facts and states of affairs should not be regarded as things in the world. This might be labelled a redundancy theory of facts. It is simply obvious that remarks about truth are not remarks about linguistic conventions.
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This criticism seems to have a similar status to the central criticism of Russell. Strawson himself favoured a view which took as the central insight about truth one deriving from F.
Ramsey that to say that P is true is equivalent to saying that P. Rather, Warnock felt that according to Strawson the speaker is simply saying the same as the original remark. In his response Strawson pointed out that it is possible to incorporate reference to the statement in the analysis he gave of truth ascriptions.
Strawson stressed that it was statements that were truth bearers. If, however, truth should not be thought of as a property of anything, then what is the point of carefully identifying the things that are its bearers? On some of these issues, see Searle Strawson published his first book An Introduction to Logical Theory in In it Strawson attempts to explain the nature, and the scope and limits, of formal logic.
The eminence he had already achieved was reflected in the fact that it received a review by Quine in Mind. One of these is the notion of entailment.
Introduction to logical theory by pf strawson pdf
Strawson then looks at the notion of form and of proof systems. He applies his ideas to traditional syllogistic logic as well as to modern propositional and predicate logic.
It can be wondered how far his elucidation of the central notions is adequate, and it can also be wondered whether he attends to all the notions that need explanation in relation to formal logic e. The main part of his book does not seem to have had a large influence on philosophers or logicians. However, three elements in his discussion had and continue to have considerable influence. He gave a fuller explanation of the notion of presupposition than he had previously provided.
Peter Frederick Strawson
Strawson argued that there are significant differences. His conclusion is that these ordinary expressions do not have what might be called a precise logic. The question that Strawson asked has continued to be central in the philosophy of language, and there has been no resolution of it. Grice took an opposite view to Strawson and part of the point of his account of implication, as opposed to meaning or saying, was to generate an explanation for the data that Strawson appealed to in arguing for a semantic difference between ordinary language and formal logic, without having to postulate a semantic difference.
This debate is still very active. The third element was the approach to the problem of induction that Strawson proposed in the final chapter. In Strawson published his second book Individuals.
It is ambitious, abstract, wide ranging and original, and it has continued to be read and discussed, especially the first half. A consequence of this generality, Strawson suggests, is that the methods needed for settling the questions are different in kind from those employed in debating less abstract conceptual or philosophical questions. One such method, employed in chapter 2, when exploring the sound world, involves imagining creatures with quite different experiences to our own, and trying to determine their capacities for thinking about objects.
He writes:. The claim that there are a shared set of concepts which are at the indispensable core of human thinking is a recognisably Kantian thesis. Descriptive metaphysics aims to describe and analyse this universal conceptual scheme.
In particular, Strawson aims to focus on one part of that total structure, namely our ability to direct our thoughts, and speech, onto items in the world.
Introduction to Logical Theory
Individuals is very much a book of two halves. In the second part, again of four chapters, the aim is to elucidate the distinction between subject expressions and predicate expressions. This latter task belongs more to philosophical logic or the philosophy of language than metaphysics, but the link is, according to Strawson, that the central cases of subject expressions are those picking out the entities to which we basically refer, the character of which it has been the task of the first half to determine.
The truth is that reading the argument developed in those chapters generates a continuous intellectual excitement, which the later chapters do not quite match. It is also true that issues to do with the subject-predicate distinction appeal to fewer people than do the issues focused on in the early part. Chapter 1 focuses on the question of whether there is a category of entities which we can think about without depending on thought about entities of other categories.
The focus initially is not so much on thought as on linguistically referring to something when in conversation with an audience, and Strawson clarifies the relevant idea of talking about an item by invoking the notion of identifying reference which emerged in his theory of reference.
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Strawson proposes the following model of latching onto an identifying reference. One case is where the referent is picked out as a currently perceived item — say, this page. In such a case the audience succeeds when they pick out the same item in their own field of experience. The other is where it is picked out as falling under a description.
Introduction To Logical Theory
Such a two—fold structure of thought was also accepted by Russell, but arguments in the theory of perception persuaded him that the perceived scene was private rather than, as Strawson holds, public. How should we think of these descriptive relations? Strawson claims in chapter 1 that these descriptive relations are fundamentally spatio-temporal. That is, my ability to think of James I rests on thinking of him as the person ascending the throne in , the present time being Ultimately I fix on him via his place in a spatio-temporal framework which is centred on my currently perceived environment.
Strawson further points out that since we need to update this relational framework over time as we move around, we need to be able to re-identify objects and places encountered at different times. Strawson draws an epistemological conclusion from this. Since our ability to maintain a grasp on the spatio-temporal framework depends on acceptance of such identifications it is incoherent to be sceptical about the procedures we rely on to confirm them while still thinking in terms of the spatio-temporal framework itself.
With these conclusions in place, Strawson returns to his fundamental question as to whether there is a basic category of items of reference. Occurrences, however, cannot be basic since they too are standardly picked out dependently — e.