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RE: [jboske] Opacity and belief



John:
> And Rosta scripsit:
> 
> > I'm not sure whether you are saying more than that 'Superman' and
> > 'Clark Kent' are two names for the same individual. [...] If they
> > are are merely two names for the same individual, then the example
> > does not differ from the Jorge/xorces, tungsten/wolfram case 
> 
> Yet you originally asserted that it did; why?

Because Superman flies, wears a cape, wears his underpants outside
his pants. Clark wears glasses, works for the Daily Globe. Show me
a picture of the one in the cape and I'll say it's Superman. Show
me a picture of the one in the glasses and I'll say it's Clark.

> > > As for the wolfram/tungsten case, this too was discovered *a posteriori*:
> > > a German and a Swedish miner compared notes, or groups thereof, and
> > > found they were talking about the same stuff 
> > 
> > I would say that the words have changed in meaning, then, to become mere
> > synonyms 
> 
> How so? I think the facts hardly justified the conclusion that Swedish
> miners used to believe that the German ore was not tungsten (or vice
> versa), they were simply agnostic on the subject 

Agnosticism isn't possible with synonymy. Either you believe two
words have the same sense, or you don't. In this instance, they 
didn't. But I do.

> Suppose you met Columbus at the dock on his return from the New World 
> He hands you a chunk of yellow metal, saying "I think this is gold,
> they have a lot of it over there, can you check?" You determine that
> it is, in fact, gold. Do you know say that the meaning of "gold" has
> changed to incorporate the New World stuff as well as the Old World
> stuff? Or do you simply say that there is gold in the New World?

I'd tend to opt for the latter.

> > At any rate, it seems clear to me that we have two different kinds
> > of situation. In one, two different wordshapes both point to the 
> > same sense. In the other, two wordshapes point to senses that may
> > or may not be believed to be equivalent. 
> 
> There's a subtle distinction here that Kripke points out better
> than I can. Until a few years ago, I did not know that "groundhog"
> and "woodchuck" had the same referent (viz. the species *Marmota monax*);
> I predicated some things of groundhogs, others of woodchucks 
> Now I know better, and predicate all these things of the same critters,
> whether you call them woodchucks, groundhogs, or M. monax (whose synonymy
> I discovered only today, thanks to WordNet). I could have remained in
> ignorance forever, but that would not mean that there were in fact
> two distinct populations of woodchucks and groundhogs 

That's right. (it so happens that one of the few things I know about
these two words is that they denote the same thing.) You can conclude
that for you they are synonymous, unless there is strong evidence 
from the rest of usage that they aren't generally recognized as
such, in which case you may create a superconcept that covers
them both, but continue to think of a woodchuck as a M. monax that
would chuck wood and of a groundhog as a M. monax that appears on my
birthday to foretell the coming weather.

> > I don't want to distinguish aprioricity and necessity. I want to
> > distinguish synonymy and necessity. For example, "4" and "the square
> > of 2" are not synonymous but are (a priori) necessarily equivalent 
> 
> I think it is not usual to speak of synonymy between phrases and words,
> but only between words, precisely because phrases are not taken to
> denote rigidly across possible worlds, and words (specifically names and
> other demonstratives) often are. "Nixon" is not synonymous with
> "the U.S. president in 1972" because it could have been otherwise if
> Nixon had lost, or avoided politics, or never lived at all 
> 
> Nonetheless, I don't understand how "the square of 2" can designate
> anything but 4 in any possible world (maybe in *impossible* worlds) 
> "4" and "the square of 2" look just as synonymous as "12" and "a dozen",
> neither more nor less 

As you recognize, cases like "square of 2" and, if it is understood
compositionally, "H2O" are not candidates for synonymy because they
have a compositional meaning. And it is clearly possible to believe
that 4 is not the square of 2. The lesson of the example that meaning
cannot be established solely by what the phrase can designate.

> > I would contend, then, that "4" and "the square of 2" aren't
> > exchangeable in intentionsal contexts, because they are nonsynonymous,
> > but "12" and "a dozen" are exchangeable, and if we wanted to capture
> > the idea that Ralph would assent to "12 da broda" but not to 
> > "a dozen da brdoa" then either we would have to talk about Ralph
> > assenting to sedu'u or we would have to talk about Ralph believing
> > that mo'e la'e zoi zoi 12 zoi da broda 
> 
> If you have the appropriate false beliefs, nothing at all becomes
> interchangeable in intentional contexts, not even "2" and "two" 
> I don't see how you can make the above distinction principled 

What would you consider to be principled? Here's my contention:

* Synonymy exists: we can have the knowledge "word X and word Y have
the same sense (whatever the sense is)".
* Extensional equivalence across worlds exists.
* De dicto readings that hinge on lack of belief about extensional 
equivalence are easy to handle.
* Synonymy is a property of the lexical medium used to encode 
propositions, not a property of what is encoded. So synonyms are
freely substituble even in bridi in opaque contexts. Putative
de dicto readings that hinge on lack of belief about synonymy
must be handled in some metalinguistic way (which will be very
problematic when we try to talk in Lojban about the beliefs of
someone who doesn't actually speak Lojban).

Of course, exx like "John doesn't believe wolfram is tungsten"
or "John doesn't believe xorxes is Jorge" demand an interpretation
where the two terms are not synonymous, but IMO what is happening
here is that Grice forces us to construe the terms nonliterally 
as meaning something other than what they usually mean. 

--And.