- Everything That Linguists Have Always Wanted to Know about Logic, But Were Ashamed To Ask by James D. McCawley (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 48, Number 4, October 1984
- pp. 694-696
- View Citation
- Additional Information
694 BOOK REVIEWS that the table in my room is brown, or use a spectroscope to determine its color, etc., then I have confirming evidence that it is brown. It is true that there could be defeaters for this evidence (say the spectroscope is broken or the light is in fact not normal). But if there are no defeaters, and the proposition is true, then I have evidential certainty of it and' know it. These considerations answer Direct Scepticism. The extensions of the argument to counter Iterative Scepticism and Pyrrhonian Direct Scepticism are easily made. Klein has shown that: There is a good argument for the claim that S sometimes knows that p. The existence of such an argument refutes Pyrrhonian Direct Scepticism. Knowledge of that argument makes Iterative Scepticism implausible (though Klein grants, as he should, that it is more difficult to know that one knows than it is simply to know). The argument is rigorous, precise, and, in my judgment, successful. This book is a model of how philosophy should be done. Centt'r for Thomistic Studies Univet·sity of St. Thomas Houston, Texas PATRICK LEE Evet·ything That Linguists Have Always Wanted to Know about Logic, But Were Ashamed To Ask. By JAMES D. MCCAWLEY. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. Pp. xiv + 508. $35 (cloth); $12.50 (paperbaek). Most people, perceiving the title of this book, will find it attractive. At first this reviewer was so affected. But, as I carefully read the early chapters and even more as I read the later ones, I became convinced that most of the author's earlier promises were not being fulfilled. In vain did I wait for linguists to raise all those queries. Nor· were there any noticeable signs of their erubescence. In the six-page Preface to his erudite work, McCawley willingly and candidly admits that it wa.s with reluctance that he decided in 1974 to write this textbook, which he considered so important and necessary for his special students. From his overall frame of reference the contemporary textbook situation in this area of. study appeared to be in serious need of a much better text than any then available. For "none matches very well my conception of what a course in logic for linguists should provide, . . . in the analyses of linguistically interesting natural language BOOK REVIEWS 695 examples." Although McCawley was quite resigned to the harsh reactions to be expected from some of his academic peers, especially among contemporary formal logicians who share neither his doctrinal views nor his personal and unconventional methods, his own self-satisfaction was to have first consideration. He was to be well prepared to provide any apologia his ideal textbook would need, regardless of the source of negative criticism. Yet despite this attitude (tending to what in England is labelled " cheekiness "), McCawley does seem to imply in the Preface that he would welcome any serious suggestions for emendation. From merely glancing over the Table of Contents one can see that there are fourteen chapters of varied lengths, usually about thirty pages. More importantly, one can see that one will be exposed to most of the salient features of logic and linguistics, from the first chapter on the subject-matter of logic and subsequent ones on the many major kinds of logic, on to those dealing with the difficulties to be overcome in achieving clarity of meaning in most truth-valued assertions, and on to the last chapter on Intensional Logic, Montague Grammar, and Quantification. As a fellow author in the field of logic texts I can be quite sympathetic with McCawley's self-satisfied feelings about having this "ideal" book published. Such a feat usually calls for much planning and tedious labor, and it is seldom easy to accomplish while carrying a regular college " teaching load " (despite the opinions of too many in academe who talk much but seldom, if ever, get around to putting their own sagacious insights into print). But, since McCawley asks his serious readers for suggestions that might enable him to provide a better textbook in the future, here are a few of the more important ones that I can make. (1) He should avoid, in...