Philosophy Blog


Beginning of Hacking and Style of Reasoning

When we read Hacking and styles of reasoning we realize that we have entered deeper philosophical waters. He starts by warning us that he will pose what he calls a “relativist question” “from within the heartlands of rationality.” But this question will not have to do with “sexy” topics such as Kuhn’s scientific revolutions or embracing the idea of incommensurability. Nor will Hacking embrace the “dualism of scheme and reality” the Davidson abjures; in fact Hacking will, as he says, learn something from Davidson’s rejection of this dualism.

H begins with an idea he calls “styles of scientific reasoning”. Not, mind you, style of reasoning tout court, because that does not interest him. He is interested in the coherent, self-contained sets of protocols that different kinds of science have developed and brought to perfection at different times in history and under varying circumstances.

H right away rejects what he calls an “inane Sism”, which states p can become a reason for q (e.g., germs cause certain infections) only when people get around to thinking in this way. This m akes discovery casual and fragmentary. What H wants to claim is that such claims become candidates for truth or falsehood, not accidentally and out of all context, but only when we already have developed ways in which such a claim can even become such a candidate. Thus a sentence connecting germs and infections can only reside in the realm of possible truth-or-falsehood within a style of reasoning, a way of looking at the world, in which such sentences can count as such candidates. Sentences such as these just do not have “legs” in ordinary conversation because they do not fit in a linguistic world in which special styles of reasoning play no role. Such sentences are not true or false relative to a context — to say that seems strange, because then the context determines their truth somewhat arbitrarily - but they are true-or-false — candidates for an assignment of value - relative to a context. This distinction makes the context not an arbitrary assigner of value but a mechanism within which values can get assigned.

Note: do not think of “styles of reasoning” as forms of either inductive or deductive logic because H makes entirely clear in this paper that we only use logic when we know that everything we are dealing with is already true. Logic does not make truth; it preserves it.

But there is an obvious problem with the styles of reasoning idea. If we say that claims become meaningful within the constraints of a particular style of reasoning then it would appear to be a fixed game. That is, if the only way we can determine truth or falsehood and therefore meaning is within the style than is the truth/falsehood guaranteed by the style? Are we caught in a circle?

H approaches this obliquely. He says first that there is an important difference between saying that nothing is true but tat thinking makes it so, (subjectivism), and saying that nothing’s either true-or-false but thinking makes it so (relativism).

H will study the second in this essay; it says that humans can think up new ways for sentences to become candidates for truth-r falsehood; it is way for sentences to be produced as candidates, rather than a simple, acontextual assertion that this sentence or that is true or false, something for which we then have no warrant.

H is all for objectivity in the sense that within distinct styles of reasoning we know perfectly well what counts as objective truth or falsehood. Objectivity is not a free-floating concept but a function of a style of reasoning, a way of thinking and talking that I think much resembles Peirce’s “habit of action.”

H does believe, and I do too, that most of what we say is so because thinking really does make it so, that is, most of what everyone says is true or false without any theory attached. There is no particualr context worth determining for most of our sentences, no special techniques or procedures or knowledge that we need to master to think and talk in ordinary ways. In this sense H agrees with R that most of what we say is no interest to philosophy. It is only when we are dealing with the special subset of sentences generated by and within a scientific or astrological or religious style of reasoning that translation issues come up because when we speak inside such a style we are using complex rules not contained in the ordinary syntax and lexicon of our language.

Crombie uses “styles of reasoning”, and H admits something important on page 163, that the phrase “styles of reasoning” , or, “style” , “is cribbed(stolen) from art critics and historians”, as in “Baroque”, “neoclassical.”

Now in order to see exactly what is at stake here, and in what H’s relativism consists he will first visit a position that he himself occupies most of the time, which he calls “arch-rationalism.”

The nub of AR is that it believes that there are and always have been good and bad reasons.

Unlike the style of reasoning guy (H, here) the AR believes in a “sharp distinction between and the propositions they support”, that s between the evidence we offer for claims and the claims themselves. The ways we get to claims and what we find out are two different things. The ARs respect history and believe that styles of reasoning can emerge in it but what they discover is not relative to anything nor does it depend on context. It is what is.

The AR is subtle. He knows that our values, our dedication to truth, is optional; it might have been otherwise and has been otherwise in other cultures. Bt the AR is also an optimist who believes that folks will eventually develop ways to get at truth. He also believes that the “historicity” of our styles takes zero away from their objectivity.

H will not fight with the Ar with whom he shares a great deal of sympathy. But he will go to his heartland, classical positivism in the persons of Comte, Schlick and Dummett, and as he puts it “extract a hint of incoherence” at the heart of AR, thereby mitigating his relationship to it.


Hacking 4-8 Prag Essay

Hacking writes that he was a realist only in the most 'pragmatic sense", following J.L. Austin's lead in his discussion of "real". I have not yet had a chance to read what A said about this but will by this weekend. Hacking means, I think, that he does not have much faith in elaborate discussions of a word that does not seem to add anything to one's discussion of anything save in local circumstances when it is used for contrast. Thus, "baseball bat", "baseball glove", "baseball cap" all work using "baseball" to differentiate bats and caps and gloves from being all manner of other possible bats and such, while saying that this is a "real" bat adds nothing to ordinary references to bats unless one needs to mark this bat off from all those mock-up Styrofoam bats, like the fake TV sets and computer monitors one finds in furniture stores. Being a "realist" in these terms is a puzzling thing to be because it suggests that one is for real things but as opposed to what? ' Hacking also likes what he calls the "scientific antirealism" of Comte and van Fraassen, or their old style positivism, which perhaps rejected realism as unnecessary in the fact of positive facts. No; van Fraassen argues famously that scientific theories need not be, and probably cannot be, literal descriptions of the real, but what he calls "empirically adequate" to the realm of available facts. But there are other theories that entail these facts, or are entailed by them. The facts available always says van F under-determine all theories, that is, all sets of facts could entail more than one empirically adequate theory. Hacking then writes that in his book on representing he then added a chapter on pragmatism, which noted that Peirce had believed that theories would eventually converge on the truth, something that H does not believe, because this would suggest that there is one reality upon which scientific theories can converge, or, one right way of knowing the world. Like R, H don't believe this. He does agree with P's idea "the very origin of the conception of reality involves the notion of a COMMUNITY without definite limits, and capable of a definite increase in knowledge." Thus H agrees with this claim that seems inconsistent or could be with P's claim about converging on truth, because to write that "reality" as a conception, as a guiding idea, means an idea developed in and dependent on a community of talkers and agents and this suggest both a dynamic, changing idea of reality as well as one that is shaped not by some external Real but by discussion and testing undertaken by more than one person. It is not entirely clear that Rorty always agrees with this because he also seems to privilege artistic creation by individuals, but the idea of a publicly testable claim is very important in Rorty. DEWEY AND THE SPECTATOR THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE This described all the then current phil science even that which H liked, such as that of van Fraassen, Lakie and Popper. All of them made the mistake of thinking that the real is what we represent in words and thought where H believed that being a realist meant intervening in the world and figuring out what was real in an experimental way rather than theoretically. Even the antirealists seem to have fallen prey to this limitation, and Rorty might have also; let's see. This seems close to Peirce who said that truth was a habit of action, less like Rorty who seems to suggest that the real is what we collectively decide that it is, but without H's emphasis on intervention. So, what we know and what is real is not what we think but what we do; the data from space probe make knowledge and reality, not speculating about what they are. H is afraid that R "praises talk" rather than experimental action. Should we sometimes favor talk? Are there situations in which talk makes more sense than experimental action? The whole issue of entities that cannot in principle be observed but that experiments can manipulate to produce new phenomena is evidence for scientific realism - in the sense that if experiments designed to affect these entities, which present a great challenge to normal realism, can do so, then realism is right so long as we grant that things that are in principle non-observable are unproblematically real. H likes to work in the region of "the intimate dynamics of interaction between theoretical modelling and the experimental creation of phenomena." No theoretical advance w/o experiment, no experiment w/o theory. H writes that he does not care about non-observable theoretical entities because he does not think that it makes any difference to physics whether its theoretical entities "are in general called real or not." What H means is that the reality or irreality of its theory things is irrelevant in almost every case to the conduct of physics. What matters is that experiments using certain descriptions of these objects pan out as expected. Their reality beyond this is moot. Of course they are real in the only relevant ways. H then cites instances where the reality of "particular conjectured entities exist or not." Are certain mental disorders real? Is this even a helpful question? It is asked, of course. 5. Peirce good but not because of  pragmaticism. Good for the altruism that the experimental life requires. Peirce also was brilliant about probability and knew that this account of truth was circular, because we would already have to know what the long term truth was to know that it was the long term truth. Peirce is like the hardware store that carried too much old inventory; P carried too much new inventory. 6. JAMES FUN TO READ Fascinated by kindsand knew how to take a look. 7. Dewey and spectator theory and unreadability and Goffman. 8. Loves Nelson who styled himself an irrealist and was a nominalist. Wanted RELEVANT KINDS not natural kinds. Does not like natural kinds because the term has to cover both biological species and artificial groupings like musical works. Second, natural kinds suggests some sort of priority while the kinds in Q are "habitual or traditional or devised for a new purpose." H thinks relevant does the job much better because it actually names something that matters, as the wholly inaccurate and non-starting "natural" does not. Grue is a bedrock fact.


Rorty and the Uplands



The nub of Williams’ objection to Rorty is that W believes that R’s attempt to, as he writes, “detach the spirit of liberal critique from the concept of truth” = “a fundamental mistake.”

And W’s worry is the people like R deny that the virtue of sincerity/truthfulness has intrinsic value.

W also believes that we can have intrinsic values w/o having Plato, that we can argue that being truthful or being dedicated to truth is good just because it is good and not for some instrumental value.


W thinks that w/o a general commitment to sincerity and accuracy there will be no society, no political community, possible.


Two conditions for intrinsic value:


A.     That something be all but necessary for ‘basic human purposes’.

B.     That it can be coherently treated as an intrinsic good.

R’s riposte is that these virtues are important and can be explained much more easily instrumentally – how could we have a society w/o sincerity and accuracy?

R thinks that W wants, whether he knows it fully or not, to preserve some of the older dualisms, such as



He also wants to preserve the analytic philosopher’s distinction between



This makes the assumption that inquiry can have TWO distinct aims:



In both of these R thinks W is reverting to the old Platonic belief that in seeking to back up claims we are responsible to two constituencies –



Prags think that these two allegedly different paths to certainty are indistinguishable, that is that we do exactly the same things to get truth in both alleged lines of investigation. There is only one line of investigation.

W asks whether we prags can tell the difference between methods for acquiring T and methods for producing consensus. Is brainwashing and waterboarding the same as getting to the truth? Both Are modes of justification.

Prag answer:

“the procedures we use for justifying beliefs to one another are among the things that we try to justify to one another.”

Example we once believed that referring to the Pope’s encyclicals was a great way to settle moral questions, or that consulting Genesis was a good way of learning about the origins of mankind – and some people still believe both or one of those things – but today in public we have abandoned these ways.


But asks the pragger how do we know that the ways we got argued out of Pope belief and Genesis belief were not themselves forms of brainwashing r social pressuring, especially since advocates of both positions make exactly this sort of argument?


We cannot tell – here “our spade is turned” because says R there is “no way to compare our representations as a whole with the way things are in themselves.”

Let’s be mighty careful about this, because it can mean two entirely different things.

On one hand it can mean what Kant thought it should mean, namely that although there is a way things really are, a way things are in themselves, we cannot know this way directly but only as through a glass darkly via the distorting lenses of representation.

The other way and the one harder to learn is that the idea that there is a way things really are makes no sense. When we posit this idea we are already secretly and illegitimately thinking that there is something out there called Reason that has a take on the world whether anyone is being reasonable or not, or we are assuming that there must be some Being with reason who knows the way the world really is without the filter of the senses and that since we too have Reason we can at least imagine, in a purely conceptual sense, what that world must be like. But if we believe that reasoning is a set of ape strategies developed by chance, trial and error, to cope with a changing set of environments, both natural and cultural, then the idea of this ape approaching the world in some non-thematized, non-ape way is unintelligible. Not wrong, not mistaken factually, but incoherent, something we literally cannot think without already surreptitiously importing ourselves into the scene and thereby making “Things as They Really Are” = things as they are to the kind of ape we are. This we accept happily and which we know is entirely a function of the agreements the apes make among themselves, ever-changing, about how they should figure their world.

We apes are forever making new things and seeing old things in new and unpredictable ways. When I was you, in 1962 or 1963, computers were huge boxes filled with vacuum tubes into which one fed stacks of punched paper cards. No internet. No WWW. No cell phone or smart phone. One phone in the house, attached to the wall, and the phone itself belonged to the phone company.

We thought the future would mean one piece jump suits and space travel and car-planes and everything faster. No gay or lesbian rights, civil rights movement just getting up steam (“I Have A Dream”, August 1963). Iron Curtain, Cuban missile crisis and USSR as the enemy.

No terrorists or Islamic fundamentalists on the radar.

India and China poor and overpopulated and would always be so.

What was the way the world really was, and from what other vantage point could it be viewed?

This does not and can never mean that there is no such thing as the world and the way it is or that there is no truth. Claiming that is insane, not worth listening to save for entertainment. But does this mean that there is some way the world really is? Yes – the way we conceive, the ways we conceive it, today.



Polytheism First Half

In 1911 Berthelot wrote this: "Pragmatism reveals itself to be a utilitarian romanticism". He did not like pragmatism but R thinks he read it correctly. He compared prag theory of truth with Nietzsche's perspectivalism. R cites a passage in N's Gay Science : "We do not even any organ at all for knowing, for truth; we 'know' . . . just as much as may be useful for the human herd. " R compares this w/ James's claims: "Thinking is for the sake of behavior" and truth = "the good in the way of belief." Humans = "clever animals" and therefore If the animal believes X, X is good only because if the animal needs something X dependably allows him to get X. Example: I need to get this paper done on time and I know that if I go down to Denny's with my laptop I an get it done because I've done this seven times in the past I got the work done every time, while if I remain in my room and try to complete the job my success rate falls below 40%. "No will to truth distinct from the will to happiness", just as Mill understood that there is no moral motive but the desire for happiness. General conclusion: "Good" and "True" and "Right" = assigned to claims/acts that are successful in producing happiness, or satisfaction that leads to happiness. But how exactly does this work? Is there ultimately something different between the claim that my transmission needs work or that I have a slight overbite, and the belief that love will trsnsform my slacker son into a concert level bassoonist? Both claims produce some form of happiness, although Peirce is very savvy in writing that since human beings do not have an instinct for truth and do have an instinct for happiness there is always a large amd sometimes debilitating tendency among humans to hope against facts, to believer what makes them feel good in preference to believing what is true, in the sense that it is publicly testable. But wait - according to R, citing J and N both, things are true because they produce happiness. there have to be more than one sense in which "produces happiness" gets read. If we are talking about an expensive transmission repair it might be superficially more pleasing to deny the truth and hope the grinding will go away, but in the longer run it will be better, and more productive of happiness, to recognize that the results of the diagnostic tests were valid and that the repairs are needed. But in other circumstances such maturity might not be required or might be much more ambiguous. Eating this French fry feels great and I know it is not terribly good for me, but the long-term health issue is less compelling than the immediate hope for pleasure, and so it becomes simultaneously true that I know the fry is bad for me and know that it is true that it will be good to eat. And I choose between these truths, sometimes one way, sometimes another. MILL = ROMANTIC UTILITARIAN. A utilitarian = one who believes that what makes an act good is the amount of pleasure it produces and/or the amount of pain it alleviates or avoids. But the initial formulation of the position by J. Bentham(see him in Wikipedia or SEP) was as R says "reductive", by which he means that Bentham made no distinctions among pleasures or among the things that could give human beings pleasure. Therefore, his theory was that any act that increased overall pleasure, no matter how crass that pleasure, was good. It was a kind of redneck ethic that failed to differentiate between more characteristically"human" pleasures and those that one shares with animals. Mill produced a more refined version of the position in which he argued that certain pleasures, such as those produced by high art and compassion. were inherently better and could be inculcated by reinforcement(giving pleasure through praise). He is a "romantic" utilitarian because he privileges these more 'spiritual' and more community- building activities. This move by Mill is really interesting because it represents an instance of doing what R does not want us to do. Here is what I mean. When Mill modifies Bentham arguing that there are human preferences that are better than others he is ranking human needs in a way that R rejects when it is done by an external figure such as God and his commandments. And R's proposal that poetry(or some other art form, some 'deep' and spiritual way to insight) can be a replacement for traditional religion is based in Mill and in this distinction between higher and lower forms of desire and happinesses and pleasures. If Bentham is right, a good utilitarian/pragmatist can just as easily, and just as justifiably, find meaning in life from bowling(Bentham's example is playing push-pin), playing Call of Duty 4 six hours a day, or surfing the net for porn. But, R reads this as Mill's desire that poetry should replace religion as the path to transcendence, to getting beyond oneself into a larger world. Mill also thinks that the insights into life, insights that give us pleasure, are the only true foundations for philosophy, for a general view of the world and the human condition that elevates rather than reduces human dignity. He rejects Bentham's "vulgar" utlitarianism, as does Rorty. Note: This has some bearing on R's discussion, later in the piece, of the relationship between pragmatism and democracy/fascism. Fascist writers typically tend to be anti-democratic elitists, as was Nietzsche. They believe, with Mill, that the truths it is good for us to believe are neither the truths revealed by God nor the crass truths imbedded in popular culture and its pleasures( aren't watching 'Celebrity Apprentice' and scrapbooking fun?) but those refined truths contained in a study and appreciation of the deeper nature and culture of whatever volk(noble Germans, latterday Roman-Italians, devout, loyal real Spaniards) they happen to privilege? It is somewhat more difficult, though not impossible, to be an elitist democrat pragmatist, a la Rorty, because there is an inherent logical tension between believing that "higher" things make us happier and being a full-out democrat. Then R makes a point that he does not argue for, that since poetry offers many different views of truth, rather than one, in contrast to monotheistic religion's claim that there is only a single true religion, one revelation and one right way to describe the human condition. Thus R sees poetry as " a secular(i.m.) version of polytheism." What exactly is R trying to say here? He sees both religious belief and poetry as "a source of ideals." What does this mean? I think he means that poetry is private -- whatever that means - and that as such it does not make public claims about what is true in the world. Rather it expresses highly individual ideals that the poet writing embraces and asserts. These values, these ideals, this vision, need not cohere with anyone else's vision of the world or with anyone else's values. I believe this has to mean that R is encouraging all of us to be our own poets, artists of our own life, an idea one also finds in Nietzsche. In this sense we each set ourselves up as local "gods", worshipping our own view of things because that makes us feel good. I am not sure. We will come back to this. But, going back to Bentham and vulgar utilitarianism, could one, as a good Rortyian, become a poet of Nachos, an artist of drinking a lot of beer? Could one express one's view of the world through waving a huge foam finger and chanting "We're Number One" at a basketball game? One wonders. One also has to wonder whether this is really an advance over an outmoded religious community. RORTY AND RELIGION Religion tells us how we are supposed to act, it ranks values in order, tells us what is higher or lower. R sees religion in this way: There is a non-human authority that - can rank human needs - therefore dictate moral choices This = Hebraism Hellenism = the opposite - that human beings can rank needs and decide their own moral choices, and poetry, reading it and writing it and letting it affect one, can help in this process. So "Different poets will perfect different sides of human nature, by projecting different ideals. " What R might be missing here and we will say more about this later is that religions were not only collections of beliefs and worldviews and statements of values; they were ongoing communities of practice, ways in which people, as a group, did things together, from praying to receiving communion to fasting on holydays. I do not think that either R's or Dewey's representations of religion captures any of this. There is a pervasive American educated Protestant bias that religion is a matter of assenting intellectually to a set of discrete propositions which can be either true or false. But as H suggests in his essay on styles of reasoning, claims being true-or-false, especially specialized claims such as one finds in a developed religion, depends on setting a complex, time-tested context, a style of reasoning developed for each major religion, one would imagine. It is within this style, which also includes -- something H does not cover because he says nothing at all about religion - rituals and gestures and verbal formulae and calendars and special clothing and religious objects - that religious claims get to make sense. Torn from this context and as it were paraded in public they do not fare so well. The deeper question here is whether religious claims are those non-theoretical claims that make up most talk or parts of a distinctive style of reasoning. Romantic util = One who "will probably drop the idea of diverse immortal persons, . . . but she will retain the idea that there are diverse, conflicting , but equally valuable forms of human life." R cites James and Nietzsche and Mill all arguing for "a plurality of norms." N talks about the virtue of Greek polytheism: It gave people "the strength to create for ourselves our own new eyes." Rorty's definition of polytheism: 473 " you think that there is no possible or actual object of knowledge that would permit you commensurate and rank all human needs." Isaiah Berlin believed that there are "incommensurable human values", which R takes to mean that we need not want to make all human values fit together, nor need we think that all human beings have to live one sort of life for that to be a good life. Different people can be genuinely and blamelessly committed to very different ways of life. Ok - let's remark on all of this. Rorty is here enacting a very American and very Enlightenment ideal, namely that individual human beings have both the right and even the responsibility to devise their own values and needs and to live lives that answer those needs and values as fully as they can just so long as their pursuit does not, in one of R's phrases, "run athwart" anyone else's beliefs and especially if it does not run athwart any publicly decided projects, be those scientific or moral or by extension political. Here things get a little dicey. If our strong poet genuinely believes that she lives in a universe with a single personal and demanding God who has imposed a moral code that ranks human responsibilities, and if she believes further that this moral code is the single right one for all human beings, then it might be naive on R's part to imagine that this person will forebear trying to make her moral and political agenda into public policy. Interestingly, if she does do this and manages to persuade a majority of voters, for example, that legalizing gay marriage is wrong, she might even overturn laws and change the public world, posing her ranking of moral values on the public space of law. For R, she has, on one level, every right to do this because in a democracy people get to campaign and lobby and blog for their opinions, and to convince other people to make their private visions public policy. On another hand however R must also object to such campaigning because he is committed to sharp distinctions between private visions, which he identifies with poetry and links to individual self-development, and conclusions, or truths, arrived at through public discussion and that uses public tests for justifiability, none of which includes the idea that there is a superior, non-human being is telling us what is right and wrong. So R suffers from a conundrum: he believes deeply in democracy, believes that democracy's point is to promote the well-being of all its members, and also believes that people know that they want. But at the same time this opens the door for people to do untoward things, especially to institutionalize laws and practices that run directly counter to the idea that R holds as centrally important - that human values should be decided by humans and that they may harmlessly vary and even contradict each other. But what if humans in a democratic decide that they are not source of values and that therefore variations in vision, values and practice are harmful, because they offend God? Something to think on ... FIVE MARKS OF R'S PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 1. If beliefs are habits of action they do not all have to cohere in a single pattern. "the purposes served by action may blamelessly vary, so may he habits we develop to serve these purposes." 2. We collapse the distinction between the cognitive and the non-cognitive, that is we stop talking about so-called "serious" beliefs based on how things really are like religion and science and start to see poetry for example as as worthy to express an "ultimate concern" (Tillich) as any other belief or practice. 3. New distinction between projects of social cooperation and projects of individual self-development. Modern science vs. Romantic art. Rorty seems to want to relocate religion outside the realm of the social. He wants to sever religion from SCIENCE, i.e., from all attempts to predict and control, and from MORALS, the attempt to rank human needs. 4. We have to give up the idea that we have a natural love for Truth. We do, says R, love intersubjective agreement, we love to gain mastery over ranges of data and we love to win arguments but we do not love something called "Truth." W/ R means is that the inability to prove a religious claim true is irrelevant so long as it does what it needs to do, and also as long as what we claim does not intrude on social projects. 5. We have to start thinking that being a believer is not to make an alliance with Power that alleviates our greater responsibility to form viable communities with ur fellow citizens. R thinks that rel fundamentalists do not sihn vs. reason but vs. liberty because they try to argue that their alliance with God gives them the authority to control the lives of other people. What do these five marks mean? They follow a pattern: The first thing and the thing that will continue through this section is that for Rorty religious claims do not seem to have assertive value as claims about how the world is. If a belief is a "habit of action" then what we mean is that religious beliefs are ways we act, not things we assert. "I believe in Jesus" under this description means, "I will do this and this, then this.", rather than "There is a Savior and I can prove it to you.", although this seems to be exactly what certain intense people with well-thumbed Bibles seem to want to tell me. Their habit of action seems to be to go around with their Bibles and harass me. Or, the Pope is in the habit (while in his habit - terrible pun!) of traveling to foreign countries and making what sound like uninformed and potentially pernicious claims about the relationship between AIDS and condom use. When he does this, according to R or Peirce, what he is doing in particular - the specific pronouncement on condom use - is an instance of a general tendency to (i) make moral pronouncements and (ii) to make them in the context of expressing what he considers to be central Catholic beliefs. In a sense when he does this he is just doing his job as pope. Popes believe, or ought to believe, or must pretend to believe, that they are Christ's "vicar" or special ambassadors, on earth. As such it must be their habit of action to be vicar, that is, to say and do pope-like things. Popes may also, incidentally, believe as the current Pope believes, that domestic cats are Good Things, because he keeps cats in his papal apartment, he has a long history of cat companions, and he sometimes travels with his cats. But this habit of action and this belief are not connected to his being pope. As pope he will almost certainly never make any cat pronouncements. In addition he is on record as believing that Darwin told the truth. He is not a creationist and he has said so many times, although he does not thereby exclude the possibility for Intelligent Design, although as a Catholic he has a perfect right to do so. This also means, crucially, that an individual can believe religious things as one set of habits of action, science-y things as another habit of action and cat things as third without the habits being incompatible because habits of action are not claims that exclude each other. This is subtle. Rorty means that if we believe what appear to be different and non-compatible things we can do so because habits of action can "blamelessly vary", or, the purposes as well as the enactments of action can so vary. So if I say the Rosary to make myself feel more at home in the universe and then calibrate the seismograph to register earth tremors there is nothing in the calibrating that clashes with the praying, even though the claim that God controls the world and the claim that seismic tremors are entirely natural might seem to be incompatible. The second feature is the idea that we need to collapse the distinction between the cognitive and the non-cognitive, that is between claims whose truth is a function of their being claims based on thought, that is on rational judgment, and noncognitive claims or those made purely on the basis of faith or feeling. The idea behind the cognitive/non-cognitive distinction is that there really is something separate and distinct between reason and feeling -- Rorty is denying this, to claim that what distinguishes one claim from another is not some inherent rationality or provability but whether the claim(feature 3) is public or private, and this seems to be a function of whether we choose that our projects, our habits of action, be one or the other. But is there anything in the projects that requires or suggests that they be public or private? This remains uncear and needs further investigation. His real point here is to argue that poets have the same status as scientists, not because they know what scientists know or know things in the same way but because they know different things in different ways. But Rorty never clarifies further and I think he should. Hacking is right, I think, to write about "styles of reasoning" for science because he seems to mean that there are different kinds of organized undertakings having to do with truth and that the rules according to which a claim gets to be candidate for truth or falsehood in one style can be quite different from the rules in another style. R's distinction between public and private truth-telling or belief does not make clear that both religious belief and poetry, as well as science, might be bound by rules that determine what claims get to be candidates for truth and falsehood, and then the question becomes one of great historical interest: if religion proposes its own style then why do certain people choose it, why have the educated rejected the style much more frequently than the less educated, and can there be any direct or indirect clash between styles of reasoning? We will examine all this presently.


Hacking and Rorty

Today's class inspired the following thoughts. First, I want to continue my analysis of Hacking's eight points by adding a preliminary analysis of point four, about reality. 

Hacking, like Rorty, is no realist. It is not that he is not a realist but that he just does not think that realism is important as an issue. Hacking mentions but does not detail what Austin says about the use of the word "real" and suggests that any sort of philosophical realism is "numbing."

Austin compares the word "real" with the word "cricket", and says that "words of this sort have been responsible for a great deal of perplexity". He then says,

Here is some of what Austin said about "real.":


"Consider the expressions 'cricket ball', 'cricket bat', 'cricket pavilion', 'cricket weather'. If someone did not know about cricket and were obsessed with the use of such 'normal' words as 'yellow', he might gaze at the ball, the bat, the building, the weather, trying to detect the 'common quality' which (he assumes) is attributed to these things by the prefix 'cricket'. But no such quality meets his eye; and so perhaps he concludes that 'cricket' must designate a non-natural quality, a quality not to be detected in any ordinary way but by intuition."