FOM: objectivity, reality, truth

Charles Silver csilver at
Sat Jan 17 11:40:56 EST 1998

On Fri, 16 Jan 1998, Reuben Hersh wrote:

> Thanks for your interest in extricating me from my predicament.

	I thought the issues I brought up were clear, and I cannot see
that your very thorough, interesting, elaborate, and edifying reply really
addresses the concerns I raised.  It is not at all surprising, though, for
people to speak past one other.  I happen to think that what I said was
absolutely clear and to the point, and that your response is somewhat less
clear and not to the point.  But, I am sure that from your perspective,
*I* miss *your* point.  The problem is: what should I say now?  I'm not
sure the goal is worth my making a painstaking re-analysis of the
situation.  I'll just say a couple of things and then stop.


*	X agrees with Y that there's a lion in the bushes.

Let us suppose that for some reason, it is valuable to discuss *.  One
thing that might be said is: (1) X and Y agree on a lot of things. Another
thing is: (2) it's not a good thing to go near bushes that conceal lions. 
To my mind, (1) and (2) are are on two completely distinct levels.  I
represent these levels like this:

          (1) AGREEMENT

                                (2) ABOUTNESS

	From what you have said, I think you don't see something that I
take to be entirely obvious; namely, that AGREEMENT and ABOUTNESS are on
two entirely different levels. From my point of view, you keep
*conflating* the two levels.  You wish to keep speaking about the nature
of the *agreement* and you refuse to talk about what the agreement is
*about*. That X and Y agree, that their agreement may (or may not be)
'reproducible' and 'objective' is all about (1).  Not (2).

	The aboutness issue is a complicated one, and I am not proposing
any answer to it at all.  I think the discussion initiated by Feferman on
aboutness is an interesting one.  John Steel has recently made some
interesting proposals (one of which I will try to keep in mind and try not
to say "out there"), and several others have made remarks that I find
interesting as well.  My only point here is that their remarks are all on
the level of (2), not (1). 

	Having said this, I admit that it may be me that misses the point
of your (Reuben Hersh's) remarks.  I understand that in some sense you
want to claim that by continuing to speak on level (1), you are really and
truly also (in a sense I admit I fail to comprehend) speaking on level
(2).  My answer to you is that you need to explain why expatiating about
(1) really and truly suffices to cover (2).  Explaining (1) over and over
just doesn't reach me.  What I need is an explanation of how the aboutness
issue really reduces to the agreement issue.  I think that if you embark
on such an attempt to show me how talking about (1) really amounts to
covering (2) as well, you will soon have to say that the "aboutness" of
the real world reduces to (objective, reproducible)  agreement about it. I
don't consider this a reductio of your view at all. It just seems to me
that this is where such an attempt will inevitably lead.  On the other
hand, I accept the possibility that I fail to understand you and, just as
I think I seem to be talking past you, you may feel that you are speaking
past me. 

Charlie Silver
Lecturer in Logic
Smith College

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