First published in Analysis 15 (1954) 23-4.
Transcribed into hypertext by Andrew Chrucky, Sept. 12, 1997.

In his recent challenging "restatement of interactionism"{1} Professor Popper writes (paragraph 1.31):

. . . the two-language solution, is no longer tenable. It arose out of "neutral monism", the view that physics and psychology are two ways of constructing theories, or languages, out of some neutral "given" material, and that the statements of physics and of psychology are (abbreviated) statements about that given material, and therefore translatable into one another; they are two ways of talking about the same facts. But the idea of a mutual translatability had to be given up long since. With it, the two-language solution disappears. For if the two languages are not translatable, then they deal with different kinds of facts . . .

Now I agree with Professor Popper that the two-language theory of the 1930's, which continued, as he points out, the tradition of neutral monism, "is no longer tenable". I also agree that "the idea of a mutual translatability" of -- shall we say -- mind talk and behaviour talk "had to be given up long since", in spite of Ryle's valiant efforts to the contrary. I do not agree, however, that "with it the two-language solution disappears".

Let me focus attention on the statement, quoted above, that " . . . if the two languages are not translatable, they deal with different sets of facts". Surely the term "fact" is a tricky one. To say that two "languages" deal with "different sets of facts" may be only another way of saying that they are not mutually translatable. Consider the following exchange:

Jones: We ought to fulfill our undertakings.
Smith: That's a fact.

(Note that Smith might equally well have said "That's true". Clearly the "fact" that we ought to fulfill our undertakings (F1) belongs to a "different set of facts" from the "fact" that the moon is round (F2). I doubt, however, that Popper would infer from this that in the narrower sense of "fact", namely descriptive fact, there are two sets of fact, those like F1, and those like F2. And indeed, from the fact (sic) that two languages are not translatable, it follows that they deal with different sets of descriptive facts only if we add the premise that both the languages in question have the business of describing.

In the later sections of his paper, Professor Popper makes a telling, if uneven, defence of the thesis that aboutness or reference cannot he defined in Behaviourese. He insists that "E is about x" (where E is a linguistic expression) cannot be defined in "causal-physicalistic" terms. And he is surely right. However, at this stage he tacitly adds the premise "'E is about x' is a descriptive assertion (i.e. plays the same sort of role as The Moon is round')" and draws the conclusion that aboutness-facts are a special domain of descriptive fact which obtain over and above facts which do not involve aboutness. And indeed, if the additional premise were sound, Dualism would be the answer.

But the semantical "language game" which contains such "positions" as "E is about x", "E means x" and "E is the name of x" is not describing talk. As I have pointed out elsewhere{2} it is a device whereby we convey to the hearer how a mentioned expression is used, by using an equivalent expression. Semantical-talk is no more describing-talk than is obligation-talk. In other words, from the fact, and it is a fact, that what Professor Popper calls the "name relation" (paragraph 5, ff) is not definable in "causal-physicalistic" terms, we cannot conclude to the truth of Dualism.

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{1} "Language and the Mind-body Problem," Proceedings of the 11th International Congress of Philosophy, Volume VII, 1953, pp. 101-107. [Back]

{2} "A Semantical Solution to the Mind-Body Problem," Methodos, 5, 1953, pp. 45-84. See also "Mind, Meaning and Behavior," Philosophical Studies, 3, 1952, pp. 83-95. [Back]

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