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TitleThe primacy of persons : an investigation into the nature and
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Page 1

THE PRIMACY OF PERSONS :

Mi II\JVESTIGATION I N T O THE NATURE

ANE DJSTIFICATION OF THE

ASCRIPTION OF MEIJTALISTIC TERl'vlS

by

Pe te r John Smith

B . A . , Simon F r a s e r Univers i ty , 1969

A THESIS SUBMITTZD I N PARTIAL FULFILKENT OF

TiIE REyUIRENENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

MASTER OF ARTS

i n the D e p a r h e n t

of

Philosophy

0 PETER JOHN SMITH 1971
SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

March 1971

Page 2

APPROVAL

Name : Pe te r John Smith

Degree : Master of Ar ts

T i t l e of Thes is : The Primacy of Persons: An I n v e s t i g a t i o n
i n t o t h e Nature and J u s t i f i c a t i o n of t h e
Asc r ip t ion of M e n t a l i s t i c Terms.

Examining Committee :

Chairman : Raymond D . Bradley

e- , - . -
RaymgWd U . ~ ~ a d l e ~ #
Senior Supervisor

John H. T i e t z

-
Donald G . Brown

Ex te rna l Examiner
Professor

Un ive r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, B .C .

Date Approved :

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c r i t e r i a , then, cannot be a reason f o r denying e i t h e r t h e i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y

o r p o s s i b i l i t y of a s c r i b i n g M.T.s t o o the r s .

(3 ) Our t h i r d questiori (above) was why a man who learned the meaning of

M.T.s from h i s own case c o u l d n ' t have c r i t e r i a f o r a s c r i b i n g them t o

o the r s . Our answer t o t h i s migkt be t h a t such c r i t e r i a c a n ' t be had,

pe r iod . But t h i s obviously wouldn't s u i t Malcolm. And we have j u s t seen

t h a t a speaker of a pub l i c language (;nglish) even i f he could have

c r i t e r i a needn ' t and i n f a c t o f t en d o e s n ' t . By the same token i t seems

a speaker of a P.L. n e e d n ' t . B:2t i s i t ever t r u e ( a s Malcolm says) t h a t

he couldnl t have? I t i s n I t . Consider what Malcolm says about p u t t i n g a

claim beyond ques t ion :

"-dhat we sometimes do i s t o draw a boundary around t h i s
behavior i n these circumstances and say, 'any a d d i t i o n a l
c ircumstances t h a t might come t o l i g h t w i l l be i r r e l e v a n t
t o whether t h i s man i s i n pa in ' . I 1

( ~ e v . ,p .88 .)

A s an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of . i i t t g e n s t e i n t s :

"3ut i f you a r e c e r t a i n i s n ' t i t t h a t you a r e shu t t i ng your
eyes i n f a c e of doubt'? - They a r e shut ."

( ~ . 1 . , ~ . 2 2 4 )

Malcolm's remarks l eave more than a l i t t l e t o be des i r ed . And a s an

account of what we do they a r e j u s t f a l s e . (when would i t be j u s t i f i a b l e

t o say t h a t ? ) But i f Xalcolm can ''draw a boundary" so can t h e speaker of

a P.L. If t h e a t t a i n i n g of c r i t e r i a i s merely a mat te r of s t i ~ u l a t i o n

t h e P.L. advocate i s a s f r e e t o s t i p u l a t e a s i s Malcolm.

So Malcolm f a i l s t o show t h a t the phi losopher who b e l i e v e s one l e a r n s

M.T.s from one ' s own case i s committed t o so l ips i sm, t h a t c r i t e r i a f o r

M.T .s i s a necessary condi t ion of t h e i r i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y . But what i f he

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39

had succeeded? What i f i t were the case t h a t f o r o the r a s c r i p t i o n s of

M.T.s t o be meaningful one would have t o have c r i t e r i a f o r t h e i r use?

Would t h i s r e f u t e t he s c e p t i c ? C l e a r l y i t would i f "having c r i t e r i a "

f means ( a s Malcolm says) completely v e r i f y i n g . But t h i s equat ion of

cond i t i ons of i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y with condi t ions of making a t r u e a s s e r t i o n

i s i t s e l f f a l s e . What i f we view " c r i t e r i o n " i n a l e s s r e s t r i c t i v e sense

( a s i n most contemporary d i scuss ions ) s o t h a t having c r i t e r i a f o r x i s

a necessary condi t ion of us ing x i n t e l l i g i b l y where "using x i n t e l l i g i b l y "

does n e c e s s a r i l y involve knowing what would make x t r u e , pu t x beyond

ques t ion o r completely v e r i f y x . Would t h i s be s u f f i c i e n t t o r e f i i t e t he

scep t i c? It wouldn ' t ; even were i t t r u e , f o r example, t h a t t h e r e must be

pub l i c c r i t e r i a ( i n t h i s sense) f o r an express ion t o be i n t e l l i g i b l e t h i s

doesn ' t mean we must use the express ion t o say something t r u e . There may

have t o be publ ic c r i t e r i a f o r t h e use of such terms a s "witch" or " t r o l l " -
f o r t hese terms t o be i n t e l l i g i b l e , but t h i s d o e s n ' t mean t h a t i n using

t h e s e terms i n an express ion , f o r example, "witches were burnt i n Salem",

even i f I use them c o r r e c t l y , t h a t i s , i n p e r f e c t accord with these pub l i c

c r i t e r i a , t h a t I say something t r u e . The r igh teous c i t i z e n s of Salem were

wrong when they a s se r t ed of c e r t a i n old hags o r young a d u l t r e s s e s t h a t they

were witches, but t h e i r mistake was a f a c t u a l one, no t a grammatical one.

Malcolm's e x t e r n a l argument then f a i l s , a s d id t h e i n t e r n a l one, t o

show t h a t t h e r e cou ldn ' t be a P.L. Thus h i s a t tempt t o d isprove S.P. by

showing a P.L. impossible f a i l s . I t might be the case , however, t h a t

though Malcolm has f a i l e d t o show it, a P.L. is impossible . But this

p o s s i b i l i t y i s a t h r e a t t o S.P. only i f i t s t r u t h is dependent on t h e r e

Page 92

L i s t of References

Awe, Bruce

Ayer, Alfred J.

Cavel l , S.

F o r r e s t , T .

F o r t , C .

Hume, David

Kant , Imrnanuel
Kenny, Anthony

Malcolm, Norman

-

Pole, David

Ryle, G i l b e r t

Knowledge, Mind and Nature. New York, Random
Home, 1967

The Concept of Person and Other Essays.
London, McMillan, New York, S t . Mar t in ' s P re s s ,
1563.

"The a v a i l a b i l i t y of W i t t g e n s t e i n l s l a t e r philosophy ."
i n ( e d . ) George T i t che r Wit tgens te in : t h e
P h i l o s o ~ h i c a l I n v e s t i p a t i o n s . Notre Dame, -
Univers i ty of Notre Dane P res s , 1965.

"Exis ten t ia l i sm and a n a l y t i c philosophy."
Daedelus, Vol. XCIII , (1967).
"?-predicates . I t i n (ed . ) Avrum S t r o l l
E~ i s t emology . New York, Harper and Row, 1967.

The Book of t he Damned. -
A T r e a t i s e on Human Nature. Oxford, The Clarendon
Press , 1964.

C r i t i a u e of Pure Reason. London, McMillan, 1964.

Action. Emotion and W i l l . London, Routledge and -
Kegan Paul, 1963.

I t Anselm s on to log ica l arguments. I t i n (ed . )
Alvin Tlant inga The Ontological Argment. from
S t . Anselm t o contemporary p h i l o s o ~ h e r s . Garden C i ty , - --
New York, Anchor Books, 1965.

"Knowledge of c t h e r minds . I t i n (ed . ) P i t c h e r ,
op. c i t .

"Review of W i t t g e n s t e i n f s Pk;ilosouhical
Inves t iga t ions . " i n (ed .) P i t c h e r , op. c i t . -

"The pr ivacy of experience." i n ( ed . ) S t r o l l ,
op. c i t .

The L a t e r P h i l o s o ~ h v of Wi t teens te in . London,
Univers i ty of London, Althone Press , 1958.

Dilemmas. Cambridge, England, Cambridge Univers i ty
Press , 1962.

Page 93

Strawson, P e t e r F . - I n d i v i d u a l s . London, Methuen, 1959

Wisdom, John Other Minds. New Y o rk , P h i l o s o p h i c a l L i b r a r y , --
1952

W i t t g e n s t e i n , Ludwig The Blue and Brown Books. 2nd ed . Oxford.
B . Blac h e l l , 1964
P h i l o s o ~ h i c a l I n v e s t i ~ a t i o n s . New York, -
McMillan, 1953.

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