02 November 2008

Bashing My Head Against Objects

Haugeland, "Having Thought" p.262, "Objective Perception":
"[Suddenly you see something that looks like your sister, sounds like your father, moves like your grandmother, and smells like your little brother. Then it has your mother's head on your uncle's body with a baby's limbs, then it has two heads and no torso or limbs and smells like a watermelon and sounds like a truck.]And moments later, [it changes] again, with new divisions and new participants. What would you say? Surely something like: 'Egads! Am I going crazy? Am I being tricked or drugged? I can't really be seeing this -- it's impossible.' That is, you would reject what you seemed to perceive, you would not accept them as objects."

I have no idea what I should say. I suspect I should stare blankly. I might say that I was "seeing something impossible", but I doubt it; that sounds like an idiom I am uncomfortable with. Rather, I suspect I should say (or at least think, since I suspect I would be going catatonic) "I must be seeing things". I wouldn't reject "what I saw" as not being "object(s)"; I would reject what I saw as not being veridical. (Perhaps more properly: I would reject the notion that I was seeing anything at all, rather than hallucinating.)

I should think that I would do exactly the same thing if I were to "see" my great-grandparents standing at the door. They've all been dead for some time, and so I regard it as impossible that they could be at the door (or anywhere else, aside from buried). This is not because the "objects" I "see" as seeming to be my great-grandparents would fail to satisfy some standard qua objects or qua persons, or even qua the persons whom I regard as being my great-grandparents, but simply because I don't think my great-grandparents have risen from the grave. (Perhaps I would revise this judgement if they started making conversation with me, and I became convinced that either they had not died, or they had somehow been resuscitated from their eternal rest. If I did revise my judgement as to whether or not my great-grandparents are/remain dead, then I should now probably have no problem with changing my mind further, and deciding that they had been standing at my door back then, after all.)

In fact, for me to reject the shades as actually being my great-grandparents, they have to satisfy whatever standards I might hold for some objects to be my great-grandparents, in a sense. For the experience I reject as non-veridical is an experience which seems to be of them standing at the door. And so Haugeland's non-objects must satisfy some standard for objecthood, for they seem to be impossible objects. If they have properties which cannot coherently exist in a single object, then they have properties and so have at least that much coherence to them. (I suspect that pressing this line would lead Haugeland to simply reject the example entirely. But it seems to me that he has to have something to replace it, and I don't see that anything can.)

There's no need to come up with counterfactuals this strange: If I were to see Barack Obama riding alongside me on CTA 172 some morning, I should have no doubt that I would decide I was hallucinating (probably from lack of sleep). Is "does not use overcrowded public transit" part of what constitutes a senator? (That seems an odd thing to say. And I could certainly come up with any number of other reasons Obama would not ride my bus, even if it wasn't so crowded. Which ones would be the ones I use to judge whether or not the fellow who looks like him next to me on the bus is actually him?) And in a sense it's possible that Obama might walk down a few blocks and get on the bus. There's a stop less than two blocks from his house, and it's faster than walking.

In each case, I can imagine that (mirabile dictu) further circumstances might incline me to simply accept the wild appearances as veridical. Perhaps the Large Haldron Collider has started to have catastrophic effects, and among those is creating things with two heads that sound like trucks and smell like watermelons, and are prone to sudden shapeshifting. (Perhaps these things only seem to have heads, but really they're just lumps with the shapes of heads, like with statues. Or perhaps the LHC actually creates monsters which exist only for a moment before dissolving, and what Haugeland describes as a kind of shapeshifting is actually many monsters replacing one another in a series. I don't see why it matters what we should say about things like this. Our ordinary ways of talking are perfectly servicable in the workaday world, but words might simply fail us when we come across LHC-derived monstrosities.) [Everything in this paragraph seems like an overwrought version of Austin's bit about the finches that suddenly explode etc., and what we should say about them. I can't recall where that passage is. I need to read more Austin.]

The very idea of giving a "constitutive ideal" for "thinghood" strikes me as inadvisable. It seems obvious to me that here there just aren't rigorous rules for how we talk (and so no such rules for how we regard entities as standing-forth for us, or anything like that). How we handle "things" varies depending on why we give a flip about them in a particular instance.

"To perceive objects is to insist upon their coherent integrity -- the constitutive standard for thinghood -- just like insisting on legality in chess, rationality in interpretation, and ordering with precision and scope in empirical science."

(Emphasis mine.) I think this is a fine place to focus on in saying what seems wrong with how Haugeland approaches these topics. In interpretation one doesn't insist that the speaker one interprets is rational. The presumption of rationality has the character of an "analytical hypothesis", to speak Quinean; one begins by assuming that the interpretand is rational, with the hope of figuring out what it is that they're saying and doing, what they believe and desire, etc. -- the hope of coming to understand them. Without such an initial hypothesis, there's simply no way to get traction in interpretation: Anyone whom I am able to understand I take to be largely rational (since any irrationality requires a background of rationality to be intelligible as irrationality, and whatever I can understand in them I understand to be either rational or irrational), and it's my standards of rationality that I use to winnow down what I regard as possible ways to take what it is they're saying and doing etc. I don't insist that whoever I try to interpret be rational -- perhaps they just aren't and I end up giving up the idea that there's anything there to be understood. Rationality is constitutive of anyone I understand not because I insist upon it, but because without perceiving rational patterns in someone's behavior I have no way to make sense of them as a person. (And what is "constitutive" here may shift and alter; the standard of rationality I use is always my standard of rationality at the moment, and there's nothing sacrosanct about that.)

I continue to dislike the chess example. As given here (and this is typical, both in Haugeland's writings and in what he says about chess in class), it is impossible to cheat at chess. For anything which is cheating is in violation of the rules of chess, and anything in violation of the rules of chess just isn't chess. And so anything which is cheating isn't chess -- a "move" which is illegal (say I castle despite my rook having moved since the start of the game) isn't a move of any game of chess (because an illegal move is a square circle), and so it can't affect the state of the board in any game of chess, and so if this "move" leads to one player "winning" they in fact did not win, since they were not playing chess. For Haugeland, "cheaters never win" is thus a priori true. In fact, cheaters never finish a game at all (and so never lose either).

I can easily imagine a game of chess in which neither player remembers the rules for castling (and so never castles, as they don't want to admit their ignorance). For Haugeland, these people can't be playing chess (since castling is among the rules of chess). Though many games of chess can be played without either player ever castling. (Suppose one of the players knows how to castle, and the other doesn't -- he can never remember which piece he switches with his rook. It seems that for Haugeland, these two can't play chess, since only one knows the rules. The fact that they might sit across from one another, move carved ivory figures around on the board, etc. would not change the matter -- one Can't Play Chess If One Doesn't Know The Rules. And one of the "players" doesn't, and so no chess is played. The fellow who does know the rules for castling (and so can play chess, even on Haugeland's view) is then unable to tell what he's doing, since he surely thinks he's playing chess.)

I can easily imagine a game of chess in which both players cheat -- when either gets up to go to the bathroom or get a drink, the other alters the board slightly. Haugeland is emphatic that such a thing Would Not Be A Game Of Chess; I can't see why it matters what we say about it. (My inclination is to call it a game of chess, since understanding how one plays chess is how one makes sense of the ways in which each player is cheating -- why they don't replace rooks with pawns or remove their own king from the board. But if one is counting games of chess played for some reason, say there's a chess league going on and each game played is worth some points, then I can see why one wouldn't count this game, if one knew about the cheating.)

A larval thought about why I can't abide Haugeland's way of treating these matters: Haugeland treats objects initially, and truth falls out later -- in "Truth and Finitude" the primary locus of truth is getting an entity right, with the truth of a sentence being something derivative. This is putting the cart before the horse: Truth and falsehood are properties of sentences. (In "Two Dogmas of Rationalism" Haugeland claims that "There was no truth a billion years ago" is true in some sense stronger than just the fact that there were no speakers (and thus no sentences or utterances etc.) back then. This strikes me as a foreboding, and impenetrable, claim. If "truth" is supposed to be something other than a property of true sentences (/utterances/propositions etc.), I don't know that it exists now.)

Edit: The response to Conant in the paragraph that bridges p.255/256 is painful to read:

The arguments that matter, therefore, are those to the effect that chess itself presupposes language, either for learning it or for playing it. But to those, I think, a simple reply is decisive. It is certainly no harder to learn and play chess than it is to learn and speak a natural language. Quite the contrary: games are clearly less demanding than languages by all counts. In particular, languages are just as constituted by standards, hence just as dependent on speakers' insistence, as any game. Yet, it must be possible to learn and speak a language without benefit of (any other or prior) language, on pain of regress. So, in principle, it's possible for games as well.
Learning a first language comes effortlessly to toddlers; learning a first game takes a modicum of work (it doesn't happen at all if no one makes an effort to teach the kid a game). Languages are not "as constituted by standards" as games -- if I "break the rules" in chess I cheat (or at least have to take the move back); if I "break the rules" in English I might be the next Joyce (or if I just speek unlovilily, then still I speak and might make myself understanded). And the argument here is just a non sequitur: Even if learning a language is generally harder than learning a game, and learning a language is possible without a prior language, it doesn't follow that learning a game is possible without a prior language. (Learning to play "Pictionary" is certainly easier than learning to speak Arabic, and learning to speak Arabic is possible without a prior language, but learning to play Pictionary is impossible without a prior language. So there's no "in principle" reason to think chess can be learned without a prior language -- especially given the stuff about having to be able to make it known that one regards a move as illegal, which is what Conant's point seems to have been.)

Happily, the paragraph on p.255 (which is footnoted as being due to a conversation with Conant) makes the points I would want to make about most of this essay.

Another howler, p.257: "The rules of a playable game must be consistent, complete, and followable". "Magic: The Gathering" is thus not a game, or at least wasn't a game in the first several years it was around, because it didn't have firm rules. (I'm told that even the current rules aren't consistent & complete -- there are places where the game is held together with spit and bubblegum, basically. That's why there are rules updates every few months.) The "Illuminatus!" card game had a rule that said that cheating was allowed, unless you were caught -- is this even intelligible on Haugeland's conception of a game? (It's certainly easy to make the rules inconsistent, if cheating is allowed.) Certainly people played Illuminatus!; that's how they were able to cheat, and how people were able to catch them cheating, etc.

I very much dislike the chess example.

Haugeland's class is wearing on me. At least the analytic class is going well. (We finally hit Two Dogmas on monday. Last class was entirely taken up by trying to make sense of Kripke's positive picture of reference in "Naming and Necessity"; it was fun.)

17 comments:

Duck said...

I just posted over at my place about this (I hadn't posted for a while), giving the Austin quote and commenting a bit. But I have a few more things too.

Surely Haugeland means to be echoing something in Kant (in the B-Deduction, no doubt) about how perception (and conception) of objects has to proceed according to the Categories: objects have to occur in space and time, and have a certain minimal structural integrity, to be objects at all, and we know/constitute this a priori. So is this one place where Kant too falls down? And I suppose you have a Hegelian corrective? Or is Kant doing something importantly different?

As I say in my post, my Wittgensteinian tendency, like yours I see, is to say, well, when something weird happens I might not know what to say – and, more importantly, I reserve the right to say whatever I feel like saying, rather than insisting on complete a priori precision ahead of time, on pain (apparently) of not saying anything at all (?). Austin is good here too, as you suggest. (You should indeed read more Austin, then go on to Cavell. As I've said before.)

Does Haugeland really say (or is he committed to saying) that one Can't Play Chess If One Doesn't Know The Rules (such that if I don't castle because I don't remember how, then I'm not playing chess even if all moves I do make are legal ones)? That would indeed be strange. Of course I also think it's strange to say that cheaters never succeed at even playing, let along winning.

There's an interesting comparison with Goodman here. In Languages of Art, he says that if you attempt to perform a certain work (say a Beethoven sonata, or any work in which every note is written out in the score) but play a wrong note, you haven't simply performed the work imperfectly – you have thereby failed to perform that work at all. This has universally struck commentators as unacceptably strict. For example, that would mean that some famous works have hardly ever been performed (and some, most likely – though maybe no-one really knows – not at all). We would have to speak not of famous artists' "performances" of such works, but instead of their "attempted performances" of same. And of course not only do we not talk like that, to do so would also give note-perfect renditions an importance we do not actually assign them. In fact reviewers and critics usually don't even mention wrong notes unless there are a lot of them. They never say "he was almost note perfect, but he missed the G# in the cadenza in measure 115" (let alone, "he almost succeeded in performed the work, but [...]"!).

How about this example: in tournament chess, when you castle, you're supposed to reach for your king first, and move it two spaces left or right, and only then move the rook to its space on the other side. If we don't have this rule, then if you move the rook first, for an instant your move is indeterminate between (say) 0-0 and R-N1 (sorry, I grew up before algebraic notation became popular). The thought is, I think, that you might then have the slight advantage of playing the rook move first, pausing briefly, and decide to castle instead. If you move your king two squares, though, the only legal thing to do is to follow through with castling.

So what if I "castle" by moving my rook first, and my opponent doesn't call me on it? (Only jerks actually do call you on it, especially when you don't hesitate between the rook move and the king move.) Have I succeeded in "playing chess" then? Have I "cheated"? It seems like H. has no good answer here.

W/r/t "interpretation," I think Haugeland may be not be saying anything more than what you're saying: that it is constitutive of an interpretation that it (not the informant) has certain structural properties typical of (our own view of) rationality. If we can't come up with any such thing, we don't have "an interpretation of the informant's meanings and beliefs which depicts him as hopelessly irrational", but we have failed to come up with an "interpretation" at all. As you say, our analytical hypothesis turned out to be false (as far as we can tell). But it's still right to say that "rationality is constitutive in interpretation". (But then he uses chess as an example there too.)

That p. 257 "howler" is weird. I thought Haugeland was at least sufficiently sympathetic to/ familiar enough with Wittgenstein not to say that. Maybe not.

I played the "Illuminatus!" card game once (and that's an excellent example, that the rules say you can cheat – what does that mean exactly??). There were some great cards, like "Orbital Mind Control Lasers". I could use a set of those!

Duck said...

Did I say "R-N1"? I meant "R-B1". Sorry.

Daniel Lindquist said...

Haugeland does mean to be echoing Kant here: "In other words, the norms governing the perceptions as such, and in virtue of which they can be objective, are inseparable from the standards governing, and indeed constituting, the chess phenomena as such; or, to make the Kantian paraphrase even more obvious: the conditions of the possibility of objective perception as such are likewise the conditions of the possibility of the objects of that perception."

I do think there's a Hegelian corrective to how Kant took his point here. Kant was surely right in holding that the objects of experience had to be "in accord with the categories" -- what can appear to be the case has to be something which can be thought to be the case -- but he gets the categories wrong. There are ways objects can be given to us which don't fit the limits Kant puts on possible objects of experience (the obvious example here is organisms, which is why Kant can only allow purposefulness as a regulative ideal in the third critique; I think it's often underappreciated just how odd Kant's mature metaphysics is). I think that Kant's problem here really starts to come out in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, where Kant tries to actually carry out his plan for giving an a priori foundation to his beloved Newtonian physics -- I think Kenneth Westphal's Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism is good on this topic. (I think the Science of Logic does a much better job of "listing the categories", laying out ways in which things can be (/be given to us), but I'm inclined to not worry too much about having a complete list of such things -- I think McDowell's approach to Hegel does a fine job of showing how we can appropriate Hegel without worrying about "the system" in that sense.)

Now, Kant's stuff about the persistence of objects etc. also comes up in the Analogies and in his account of how self-consciousness is possible only if consciousness of "objects of outer sense" is possible, etc. Here I think the issues get tricky, because Kant gets a lot of Big Things right, but does so by making subtle mis-steps (such as affirming "the nomological nature of causality" and regarding Newtonian physics as constitutive of all objects of possible experience whatsoever, thus making the causal nature of cognitive states and organisms mysterious -- one becomes noumenal/problematical, the other a mere regulative ideal for discerning the true (mechanical) causes of why dogs eat food and plants grow skywards). The dependence of "inner sense" on "outer sense" is surely right, and one of the most significant advances of Kantianism on previous philosophy, but Kant's notion of what "outer sense" can be like is too wedded to a Newtonian view of nature.

So, as a rough shot at what's wrong in Haugeland's Kant: the a priori restrictions on objects are too strong. There's a very real insight in that neighborhood that I absolutely want to hold on to, but it's not the lesson Haugeland takes away (nor, I think, the lesson Kant wants us to take away, or at least not the full lesson).

(Sally Sedgewick was excellent at the workshop on Friday; one of her main complains was how modern Kantians just ignore various real problems in Kant, and thus can't see how Hegel's criticisms could be just (since they can't see the problems he's addressing), and so can't see Hegel as a resource, "and that puts people like me out of work!" Her focus was on the Practical philosophy, but she thought the problem was more general -- overweening love for Kant is hurting Hegel's reception. I think she's surely right (especially about Kant's practical philosophy); McDowell and Brandom like to point out how Hegelianized Sellars's Kant is, for instance, yet Hegel explicitly shows up in EPM as a serpent.)

As I said, the Hegelian corrective to Kant here gets tricky.

The Goodman parallel is interesting.

Haugeland doesn't mention castling or cheating, but I think he is committed to the implausibly-strong views I paint him as holding in this post. He doesn't add any caveats to how crucial Knowing The Rules and Insisting On Their Being Enforced is to being able to play chess (and he draws a direct parallel between this insistence and the insistence of a chemist that apparent anomalies be made to fit with the regnant paradigm and existing theory), and I've encountered that damned chess example five or six separate times by now. It's come up at least twice in class; we finally reach the bit of SuZ on language this week, so I would be willing to bet it shows up again. (He's already said implausibly strong things about language -- "There have to be norms for communal life. I have to use "horse" for big animals and "dog" for small ones. If you use "horse" for small animals I will take you to be using the word in the normal sense." (from my notes). From the same class: "Called 'can't move a ROOK on the diagonal' a pretty clean example of norms and the rules of grammar." Also from the same class: "Mentioned dropping a dozen people from radically different cultures together on an island; denied that they could communicate with one another or cooperate in attempts to get food & build shelter etc." Again: "You have to understand the word 'yellow' the way I do or nobody's going to get off the ground." [All of this was from the lecture on "Das Man", SuZ 27]

An anecdote from class: Haugeland claimed that being able to distinguish tools from one another is essential to understanding them as tools. Hence I have to be able to tell hammers from wrenches from saws etc. to be able to hammer. I raised a question about an idiot who used hammers, wrenches, and large rocks all interchangeably to drive nails into boards, and asked why we couldn't say he was hammering (that is, using something as a hammer). Haugeland said he wasn't building anything -- so I said, okay, he's building doghouses. He just builds dozens and dozens of doghouses; he's good at it. Why can't we say the rock and the wrenches are hammers for him? Quoth Haugeland: "...Because they're not hammers!"

Somewhere in this he said "What you're saying makes as much sense to me as if I were to hold up a dirty glove, a sock, a stack of papers, and a stapler and say I was playing chess." I said "well if you can tell me how you can go from those things to moves, I could see that being an intelligible way to talk" -- Haugeland mumbled "You can find intelligibility where you [last bit was said into his beard]".

I also said "suppose it turns out that the rocks he's using are excellent as hammers, way better than our actual hammers, so the idiot actually knows what he's doing more than we do". Haugeland said "Someone might drink wine from their shoes, too, but that's not what shoes are for" -- I immediately came back "Perhaps it tastes better that way, due to the fungus -- in a few years we shall all drink from our shoes" (someone chimed in "I already do that, it's great"). At this point Haugeland said "Enough". "We've had a good back-and-forth here, but it's done now."

[Haugeland then called on someone who had their hand up, and they said "Sorry, this is kind of related -- I was wondering, how is invention possible on your --" "How is invention ever possible?!" Haugeland interjected. "Someone makes something new and people start using it." I took the questioner's point to be that, if we are all misusing shoes if we all start to drink wine from them, how it could come about that someone might invent shoe-wine-drinking as a practice (the wine has delicious fungal flavoring). Since it looks like that practice is always just an error: it's not what shoes are for (and what shoes are for is determined by Das Man, not by anyone's intentions). Haugeland was visibly irritated by this point, so the class moved on. But I felt vindicated by the question.]

[I am a bit afraid that I make myself look less idiotic here than I actually was in class; Jon might be able to confirm some of this? Or maybe he can tell me how little sense I was making at the time. JON: IF YOU MAKE IT THIS FAR DOWN IN THE COMMENTS, SAY SOMETHING!]

I know I've brought up the cheating at chess question before, but on reflection, I don't think I've asked it in class. Now I hope that the chess example does come up again. I can't see that Haugeland can mollify his claim here to something like "They have to follow the rules of chess for the most part", since it doesn't make sense to say that our standards "mostly constitute" what chesspieces are, and the constitution of chesspieces and our insistence on the rules of chess go together for Haugeland. So to allow for "mostly following the rules" would be to countenance "mostly being chesspieces". The entities can't have this sort of "play" to them, I am positive Haugeland would insist. (If Haugeland allowed that entities which are "constituted" by our norms could sometimes violate those norms, then it would be natural for him to allow that the way entities reveal themselves in a practice can alter that practice, piecemeal. But he doesn't allow anything like this -- the place where he "gives the world a say in our attempts to characterize it" is in the possibility of "worldview collapse" -- Haugeland's account of objectivity in general is a generalization of Kuhn's paradigm science. I find the fact that he has to allow for collapse of a system of beliefs to "give the world a say" utterly bizarre; I can't imagine what makes this sort of view of inquiry preferable to good ol' Quinean webs of belief (or Theseus's boat, or Sellar's science that can call any belief into question, though not all at once, etc.).)

You may be right that I'm being uncharitable in the way I read Haugeland's mention of "interpretation". But, the chess stuff seems pretty clear-cut to me, and he thinks they're parallel (like you said). I am sure I will bring up malaprops when we discuss language this week, because I think that's the easiest way to get directly to the issues here.

Illuminatus! is probably the most straightforward counterexample to Haugeland's claim about games, but most tabletop games would also work. It's pretty standard to have a rule in those to the effect that "If you can't figure out what the rules say to do here, [X]". Sometimes X is "the DM gets to decide"; sometimes it's "settle the matter by chance (e.g. rock-paper-scissors)". I've also seen X="Do what seems most fun, by a plurality vote". If your playgroup wants to play a game, you can make do with really shoddy rules-support. And of course, there's Rule Zero for games: "Ignore the rules if you think it's more fun." (Personally, I always cheat at Monopoly. I find the game is just more fun when people are constantly trying to steal from the bank, moving hotels, etc. Allowing players to trade extra-game items for properties also improves things. I am sure that there are people who take Monopoly Very Seriously and would be aghast at my play-style; I am happy to upset them, because their game is boring and yet everyone owns a copy for some reason. Of course, if the other players get too upset about it I won't cheat at the game (with those players, at that table, that night) -- I don't insist that Rule Zero applies to Monopoly. But man, do I love slowly accumulating all of the 50s; no one watches those, because they're not a large bill, and you rarely run out of them. And if stealing money threatens to make you win (and thus put an end to your ability to cheat at Monopoly for the evening), you can always give away properties you've bought up with stolen cash to players who might otherwise leave the game. This is also a good way to handle accusations that you're cheating: give away properties to show that you are not taking the game that seriously, so why would you cheat? Monopoly is the best terrible game ever.)

This post has been a pretty good way to let off steam about Haugeland %^)

Also, I have now ordered a copy of Austin's "Philosophical Papers". It was $16 after shipping for a used copy; that seemed pretty good. And JStor doesn't have "Other Minds" (unless it's part of the symposium with Wisdom and Ayer, which I suppose it might be). I will make a spot on the shelf for it next to "The Claim of Reason", so I remember what I'm supposed to put off reading indefinitely. <.<

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

""affirming "the nomological nature of causality""""""


One might affirm it, proving it's another matter, as Hume realized, not to say LaPlace (not sure Kant did, given his strange belief that causality's known a priori--the pro. Kantian usually makes some clever equivocation on that point---).

When weathermen start to offer precise accurate predictions of hurricanes, tornadoes, big storms, etc. maybe "Nomological causality" will be immanentized. (or prove the all the causes of "global warming") What about next year's world series? How about the election results (and attending details/problems/court filings).

See also Bricmont's writing on the causality/determinism issue: while not pal of Humeans (like Popper) or fans of chaos and indeterminacy, Bricmont has some grasp of the problems involved.

Daniel Lindquist said...

Found another chess quote that irked me (this time from "Understanding: Dennett and Searle", p.298): "I might believe that you had made an illegal move if, say, I mistook your bishop for a pawn, or got confused about the icons on our new computer. But if something does seem illegal to me, I can't just ignore it. I need to find (and correct) my mistake (if any), because if there's no mistake -- if you are in fact making (what would be) illegal chess moves -- then this isn't chess. Either you're playing a different game, or nothing at all."

That last line in particular seems to be what you said Goodman said about musical pieces. And it clearly does imply that cheating at a game means not playing it (and so not being able to win or lose at it, assuming the maxim "You can't win if you don't play" holds good here as elsewhere).

I'm not sure what "illegal chess moves" could even mean for Haugeland -- an "illegal move" would be a square circle, since anything which is illegal is ipso facto not a move, and anything which is a move is ipso facto legal. It seems that he should say (by his own lights) "what appears to be a non-move where a move belongs" or something like that, instead of "what appears to be an illegal move". Which is an awkward idiom. If moves are supposed to be made in accordance with rules, then we should be able to speak of making moves that aren't in accord with rules. Or else this "are supposed to" should just be "are".

Haugeland has a long essay on truth and rule-following I'm working up to. I've been trying to figure out how Haugeland could possibly appropriate Wittgenstein for all this, and I suspect the answer is just "He can't". So the rule-following essay will be something like "How to avoid the rule-following paradoxes without agreeing with Wittgenstein", and his answer will probably involve an implausibly strong notion of "community standards" (though probably not under that name).[Flipping through the essay, his main interlocutors on rule-following are Searle and Rawls, of all people. He also attributes a "coherence theory of truth" to Davidson, which is just inexcusable given that this essay postdates "Structure and Content of Truth" by eight years (and "Afterthoughts" by eleven). Amazon's "Search Inside" says that the only place Wittgenstein figures in this essay is in the footnotes, where he only appears in a historical note and as filtered through McDowell's essays. It seems that the shortstop joke really is all Haugeland has to say about Wittgenstein. A rule-following essay without Wittgenstein: the mind boggles.]

N. N. said...

"As I say in my post, my Wittgensteinian tendency, like yours I see, is to say, well, when something weird happens I might not know what to say – and, more importantly, I reserve the right to say whatever I feel like saying, rather than insisting on complete a priori precision ahead of time...."

This was my gut response as well (my thoughts going to PI, §80). The new case is not accounted for by our understanding of "object." Which isn't to say that it's not an object. Rather, we have a decision to make. As Ludwig would say, "It's as you please."

In my opinion, the fact that 'it' changes alot wouldn't necessarily rule it out as an object. Many things change alot, and we don't have any qualms about calling them objects. I was just comparing myself to how I looked in a junior-high photograph. I've changed quite a bit. Sure my changes didn't occur as rapidly as the ones that Haugeland imagines, but why should rate of change be the deciding factor?

J said...

"if you are in fact making (what would be) illegal chess moves -- then this isn't chess. Either you're playing a different game, or nothing at all."

That's correct. Playing tournament chess, either you castle properly-- 0-0 -- or you don't. Sort of like, you prove something, or you don't (like the law of excluded middle-----); yet the rules of chess are not phenomenal, anymore than algebra or "modus ponens" is. (the Kantian schema, however elegant in parts, should be considered provisional---Kant did not understand induction (including Newton's inductive aspects, ie experiment) as well as Hume did, and the problems thereof. Much of Kantianism has been taken over by perceptual psychology and cog-sci anyway, tho' few filosophes will cop to that).

Castling, like any chess moves are rather analytical (or "pragmatically analytical," given centuries---there are chess variants, the game evolves, etc. ).


No Wittgensteinian BS needed.

Daniel Lindquist said...

N.N.: Thanks for the PI citation; I had occasion to quote it in the reading group this afternoon. It was nice to have it freshly in mind.

Ben Wolfson said...

Man, those are some long comments. I think Haugeland can tolerate the idea of illegal chess moves, and that that's part of what he's up to in "Pattern and Being", with the inner/outer judgment distinction. (Briefly: that this is a game of chess is outer, that this move is legal is inner, and these are obviously related but not identical judgments, and you have to make the former to be in a position relevantly to make the latter.)

Daniel Lindquist said...

The first place Haugeland's TA went was the claim that cheating at chess meant you weren't really playing chess. Which I regard as some sort of ersatz confirmation as to what Haugeland would say.

I probably should reread "Pattern & Being", though. I remember liking it, and I certainly did not like the other two essays which I've read in that part of "Having Thought". (I've been putting off the long one, and reading fun things instead.)

Daniel Lindquist said...

And yeah, they are hella long. One of mine was six pages in 12-point Times New Roman, doublespaced. (The term paper for this class only has to be twice that long.)

Ben Wolfson said...

There's occasionally a place for the argument that the person failing to meet the standards isn't really engaged in the activity at all—for instance the crooked contractor whose constructions are terribly shelters (if you believe Korsgaard about the constitutive standards of houses) is perhaps best described as not really building houses but rather as building convincing-enough house simulacra and enriching himself in the process, and he's done wrong is break his contract, which was to build houses.

But that can only get you so far and doesn't help you with non-malicious cases. I have myself played games of chess in which it was discovered after several moves that my king had been continuously in check, and my most frequent playing partners are never able to remember whether the king is allowed to castle through check (I'm pretty sure the answer is no). Here it seems unreasonable to say that we aren't really playing chess (though not that we're playing chess mistakenly), & I think that's what the outer judgment stuff is supposed to be about.

I'm pretty sure something like the above cropped up in one of the long comments I scanned but didn't read, but I'm trying to procrastinate here.

Daniel Lindquist said...

I certainly don't want to rule out saying that people who "disregard the rules of the thing" aren't really doing the thing; I am happy to say that the crooked contractor has broken his contract, if he's been flagrant enough in his crookedness. Ruling out being able to say this would be swinging to the opposite pole of the position I want to reject, the one I attribute to Haugeland.

If Haugeland's outer/inner judgement stuff in "Pattern & Being" gives him a way to handle the cases where I think he goes off the rails, then good.

Procrastinating is pretty great.

Duck said...

I too am fine with an "inner/outer" distinction, if it's doing what I think it is. My only worry is that it not end up like a Carnapian "internal/external" distinction. But surely H. doesn't say that the one is "pragmatic" while (only) the other is factual. BTW I had forgotten that H. is saying this *in Heidegger class.* Was there a characteristically Heideggerian moral we were to draw?

In any case, it seems to me that the crooked contractor would have broken his contract *whether or not* we say that he "built a house", unless the contract has been extremely poorly written.

And yes, you may not castle through check.

Daniel Lindquist said...

Haugeland doesn't connect it with anything particularly Heideggerian; when it came up in class it was just loosely related to anything in the text. (Certainly there are lots of things in Heidegger that are more or less related to this. Das Man is intimately related to this sort of social-externalist thinking. But there's no point at which Haugeland looks at SuZ and attributes his arguments to Heidegger.)

I was thinking the contract had just said "Build some houses" and so was satisfied by very lousy houses. This is probably not the way most contracts work, in actual practice.

Ben Wolfson said...

Was there a characteristically Heideggerian moral we were to draw?

Beats me, but the last sentence of "Pattern and Being" is a doozy. It turns out that Dennett is engaged in a preliminary analytic of Dasein.

I really think he just put it there for the dramatic effect.