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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3540] Thu, 11 February 2010 20:02 Go to next message
J D is currently offline  J D
Messages: 51
Registered: January 2010

First, a general remark. "Family resemblance" is a useful simile. So too is the comparison with tools. And while it is entirely possible to turn a screw with the blade of a knife, you may also damage the knife, damage the screw, or cut yourself.

I also note that you haven't addressed or so much as acknowledged my point about Wittgenstein's revisions and his laboring over choosing precisely the right word or the right phrasing as that point stands in relation to your own pretense that it is somehow more "Wittgensteinian" to just talk about "family resemblances" to show a causal disregard for standards of correctness.

Note: I am not trying to play "more Wittgensteinian than thou," which I consider an utterly asinine form of argument. But I am asking how you reconcile these two things in your claim to be oh-so-Wittgensteinian.

"3. I can't agree with several things you have said about what analytic philosophers do with statements like 'If Tiger is married, he is not a bachelor.'"

Are you disagreeing with my contention that they make such arguments as I presented? If so, I can offer citations, but since you then refer to "analytic philosophy of this sort", it appears you acknowledge that after all. But then it would appear that you just wish to express your disagreement with such arguments. Well, since I presented conflicting arguments, it should be obvious that I disagree with at least some of them as well.

"In fact, this is exactly what the fallacy of analytic philosophy of this sort is. It pretends as though the statement is not governed by culture and cognition, and that it presents a question that should be resolved mimicking science or mathematics."

No doubt that is the case in some cases. But broad generalizations like that aren't very helpful. In fact, they're quite empty. "(A)nalytic philosophy of this sort..." What sort? Well, the sort that does that sort of thing.

And for those who like that sort of thing, that's the sort of thing they like.

One particular argument I presented, the only one I would personally be inclined to actually defend, was very much connected to culture. Namely, the role that that concepts like "bachelor", "marriage", "fidelity", "voews", and so forth play in people's lives. How you could say that such an argument as a denial of the role culture plays is quite beyond me.

"For the truth of the matter is, that the statement is only governed by sense of the expression, and that once the sense is shared, there is no other issue other than informational (what Tiger did, what his 'marriage' is like)."

Questions I would include, "Shared by whom? In what contexts? On what occasions?"

I have not acknowledged the usage, only pointed out that it is a sort of joke. Note that Wittgenstein also observes departures from normal usage that make sense as jokes. Metaphor, irony, and various other uses of language are parasitic upon literal usage. That's different from saying that it's all just "family resemblance", but it doesn't deny the variety in our usage.

"If we would treat married and bachelors only as predicate-calculators, we would have precluded any counter-examples from being shown by virtue of the language game being used. We would have shut them out."

If you re-read my remarks, you'll see that I was actually calling you to task for that.

"You seem to think that logic has some status over language. I sense this in you. You must be a philosophy professor who teaches symbolic logic. Let me help you with this: 'I release you.' (You like Lord of the Rings?)"

I've been accused of far worse and on better evidence. In any case, it would depend on what you mean by "logic". If you mean the subject taught in courses in symbolic logic, then certainly not! In a wider, Wittgensteinian sense of "logic" - a concern with those rules that are constitutive of sense - then I wouldn't call it a "status over language". That would be a very misleading way of putting it.

I am more of an SF fan but Tolkein is good. Have you watched Caprica?

"Here's what I think you aren't getting. Definitions don't prescribe the use of words, behavior does."

Dictionaries both describe and prescribe. People regularly treat dictionary definitions prescriptively. In education, in scholarship, in Scrabble tournaments... And these activities are of course behaviors. Marks on paper by themselves neither prescribe nor describe but being a dictionary is also about being used in various ways and in various activities. And some of these uses are prescriptive.

The fact that language users are also creative and that language evolves shows that dictionaries are not always treated as rule books that keep language in a "frozen" condition. But that is not to say that dictionaries are not used prescriptively!

"What are commonly called definitions in dictionaries are nothing but accounts of these uses."

Recall the remark I'd shared about the judge and treating statutes as anthropological descriptions or as guides to how he should rule. You seemed enthused about the quote but perhaps you missed the point!

"Sort of like a newspaper for the language game. No one I know of would credibly say that if a use was meaningfully understood that it couldn't be made because the dictionary didn't yet have it."

Being understood and being correct are not the same thing. But that was a clever seduction on your part. I depreciated it!

I've already acknowledged non-literal uses. I also do not deny that language evolves. Nor yet do I deny the existence of slang and idioms shared among small communities. To deny any of those would be exceedingly foolish. But no less foolish would be to ignore the perfectly ordinary distinctions we regularly make between correct and incorrect, between standard and nonstandard, and between literal and nonliteral usages, and to treat rule as exception and exception as rule.

"And so, for the idea of calling Tiger a 'bachelor' to be a joke can only be true IN A SENSE OF TALKING."

What does that even mean? What is an example of a true statement that is true in some other way than in the particular senses of the words used?

"You are observing a fence again. You use the word 'bachelor' and 'marriage' with a fence in both yards. That's fine. You're allowed. Many people do. Your point is taken. But what you don't understand is that if people use these words without such fences, they too are allowed whatever goals they score"

Your condesension notwithstanding, the idea of what people are "allowed" to do is not a concern of mine. I am concerned with what makes sense and with distinctions between different kinds of making sense, not with telling people what they are or are not "allowed" to say - as if they would listen to me anyway!

It may be that some of my prior remarks came across as some sort of hysterical prediction of sociology-cum-religious-conservatism, viz. "If we allow people to call Tiger Woods a bachelor, then the institution of marriage will be destroyed, the favric of society will be torn apart, it will be anarchy!" But my remarks were not sociological or anthropological: they were grammatical. I was pointing out connections between the concept of bachelorhood and concepts of marriage, fidelity, and so forth, and how treating a non-standard usage as standard breaks those connections.

What we mustn't overlook with the Tiger Woods example is that Tiger's marital status and infidelity are both common knowledge, thanks to our sensationalistic media. Given this shared background, "Tiger Woods is a bachelor" could not be meant to tell us about either: his marriage and his cheating are known to just about anyone who would recognize his name. So the sense of the utterance would be an ironic remark on Tiger's behavior: he may be married but he sure doesn't act accordingly. hence, a joke.

But suppose we're talking about someone less famous. A traveling salesman (to reference a vast body of humor) who is married says that he's a bachelor. Now, perhaps he says this to people who know him or who see his wedding band and know his profession. And with further enquiry, he offers something like, "This week, I might as well be a bachelor," or "When I am on the road, I live as I did when I was a bachelor." (And this need involve nothing untoward. Perhaps he just means that he eats Chinese take out standing over the kitchen sink in his motel room and falls asleep watching TV on the sofa in his underwear.) Calling himself a bachelor is then a humorous commentary on his life. A joke.

But suppose he removes his wedding band and tells people who don't know him that he's a bachelor, including women he seeks to bed. Is he just making a joke? Or is he a damned liar! Suppose in a court of law, he testifies that he's a bachelor. You're an attorney: tell me how that goes? Tell me how it works out for him if his wife in another state is discovered and he says, "I was just using 'bachelor' in a different sense"? And any married people: tell me how it goes over with his wife when she hears about it.

"Aww, Pookie! I was just using the word in a different sense, y'see. Sweet'ums, you're insisting on drawing fences around words, but language doesn't really work that way. It's about 'family resemblances', y'see. Yeah, and dictionaries just describe how people sometimes use words but they don't really prescribe anything. I was just using 'bachelor' in my own personal way. There was no deception, honestly!"

Tell me how things work out for the attorney who is discovered to have advised her married client, "Say you're a bachelor. After all, in a certain sense you are."

(I'm not about allowing or disallowing people's choice of words. But other people just might be!)

"E.g., Being married to yourself is a meaningful idea. So is being married to work, an expression which is widely in play in the language game. (I myself am married to my ideas)."

Yes, there are other uses of the word "marriage". I would not deny that. Though I would need some further elaboration to make sense of "married to oneself". However, since you've now acknowledged that calling an isolated word (rather than its definition) a tautology makes no sense (would have to be understood as some sort of shorthand way of putting it), then the point of my remark about marriage to oneself has already been made.

However, note that I took your parenthetical quotation, "Marriage is between a man and a woman," as an allusion to controversies over homosexual marriage. In that context, the fact that we speak of someone being married to her work is quite irrelevant. It is a question of legal recognition, of changing the legal definition. Saying that Richard is married to his partner Phil just as I am married to my work and Joan is married to her political cause would be completely missing the point!

"So, the next time you put the Tiger sentence up and call it 'logic,' you may want to replace that with sense of expression."

Senses are a concern of logic, in both the technical sense and the wider, Wittgensteinian sense. Do you know who originated the distinction between sense and reference (though there were related precursors)? The logician, Frege.

"Once again, the right analysis is this:"

(I find it exceedingly odd that someone who insists on accusing others of a dogmatic reliance on formal logic would so casually speak of "the right analysis". And what follows is not "once again". You changed what you'd written before, without acknowledging the changes and without answering my questions about the previous "analysis". That's fine but to say "once again" is simply dishonest.)

"1. If the bearer called TIGER is married (in a sense of that word), he is not a bachelor (in a sense of that word). [IT DOESN'T FOLLOW]."

Of course, he could be a Bachelor of Arts. No one is denying that words have different senses. I am only urging that we keep these senses clear. I am pointing out distinctions. If it's a different sense, then it's not a counter-example to the received definition.

"The Pope example that you exempt..."

I didn't "exempt" it. But I do consider it a more significant counter-example to the standard analysis. That said, I also think that one could say, "the Pope is married... to the Church," or one could say, "Strange as it may sound, the Pope is a bachelor." And I don't insist on either being "correct", though for some particular purpose, one might have reasons to favor one or the other.

"...is of the same sort of thing as Tiger."

That rather depends on how one fills in "sort of thing".

"Here is the key to the riddle: the point of 'bachelor' in the language game is to denote 'dating eligibility.'"

That is one point. There are others.

"That's what the idea does in the game, which is all tha matters."

If I were to grant that there were a single point, it would be "eligibility for first marriage", not "dating eligibility". 13 year old boys are eligible to date, parents permitting, but they aren't bachelors. Men in cultures where marriages are arranged may not be eligible to date, but are bachelors. Divorcees are eligible to date but aren't bachelors.

"Question: Did Tiger have a bachelor pad? Answer: he probably did. Does the Pope have a bachelor pad? Answer: no. What's the difference? One is eligible to date, the other isn't."

One has various means to facilitate dating and the other does not. And an adult man who has never married and lives with room mates or in his parent's basement may also lack the facilities but that doesn't make him any less a bachelor.

"Asking whether Tiger is a 'bachelor' is a language game every bit the same as asking whether a penguin is a bird or a scorpion a bug or a large living-room bean bag a chair."

Each of these examples is different. "Bird" has a zoological definition as well as ordinary usage. "Bug" does not, though "insect" and "arachnid" do. "Chair" has no definition in any natural science but large bean bags are commonly called "chairs", albeit not prototypical chairs. These question are not "the same".

(Wittgenstein, quoting Kent in Shakespeare's _King_Lear_, considered as a motto, "I'll teach you differences.")

"In this language game, the funcion of the idea is present (eligibility to date) but the format isn't right (is married). This language game transposes form and function. The Pope is the opposite: he is not eligible to date but is not married. He has the format of bachelor but not its function. Many family resemblance games do this."


"Imagine someone asking inside Tiger's female circle whether Tiger was a 'bachelor.' What would the inside person say? They'd probably be unsure of what to say. They might say, 'he is and he isn't.' Or, he is IN A SENSE. Tiger is a family member who you have fenced off with a sharp boundary."

My guess:

First, they would wonder where you had been the past several months not to have heard all about it. Then, if they knew you were informed of the circumstances, they would wonder what your point was in asking such a question. Finally, they'd probably think you were attempting to make a joke in very bad taste, perhaps at their expense, and might be inclined to slap you. Or worse.

I do not get the impression that you have anything like the kind of mad skillz to talk to women that way. Your black belt Wittgensteinianism and linguistic acumen notwithstanding.

"And by way, calling Tiger a bachelor would not upset anything in the culture or the language game. It would overturn nothing. It would simply be another case of mix-and-match."

No, it wouldn't upset anything. But using "bachelor" to mean "anyone who dates a lot" and treating that as the standard rather than as some special usage would sever a lot of connections to other concepts. Of course, we would work around it, just as we work around "gay" now meaning "homosexual" and "sex" now meaning "copulation". It's a source of muddles but we manage.

One last thing. I find it odd that after previously insisting that "bachelor" was a "tautology" or a "predicate-calculation" or whatever, that you're now insisting on complete flexibility in the word's deployment, even to the point of apparently denying distinctions one might draw between different usages. it's fine if you change your mind, but you may want to acknowledge the change.


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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3568 is a reply to message #3540] Mon, 15 February 2010 20:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member


... I may be bowing out of further discussions with you here. The format is too laborious for me to create coherent points out of the jabs that come beneath each sentence. And I fear the attachment you have to certain beliefs means that going further with this will not be helpful. But I'm not discouraging you from doing whatever you want; I'm just telling you that I may need to be doing more office work than this!

The discussion seems to be hung on whether whether "marriage" and "bachelor" have sense -- i.e., whether they are family resemblance ideas. If they do have sense, the prop, "If Tiger is in any sense 'married,' he is not a 'bachelor' in any sense" is clearly false.

My view is Wittgensteinian. It claims that "bachelor" and "married" do have sense, and that their senses form a family resemblance. To police sense, however, people often use a sharp boundary that cuts off family members. That's all well and good. The boundary allows for a particular use of the idea. But sharp boundaries are only for local or convenient uses; and people regularly strip them down and allow border members back in the idea.

Case in point: Tiger and Popes. Who's the bachelor here? You seem to think the Pope can be considered to be "married to the church." That can only happen by stripping down the public fence for the word "marriage" (or moving it). What you are doing here is similar to what I have done with "bachelor." Note that what allows you to say the Pope is married to the church allows others to say they are married to their work. Although these uses may not be exactly the same thing, they are closely familial. The central idea involves being faithfully devoted to something that precludes the taking of a "spouse" (which itself requires some of that faith and devotion that cannot be given).  This sense of "marriage" also allows one to say that: (a) Tiger really isn't "married" (when he was running around); or (b) that the marriage is a "fraud," is "open," or is for "convenience." Is a person who is in an open marriage a "bachelor?" Answer: depends upon
whether you want to use a fence. (Real answer: depends upon what you are using the idea for).

You think that statements like (a) should be regarded as a joke, slang, idiom or or metaphor or something. Surely they can be. But there's another sense: they can be thought to be meta-functional or an idealization. Another word might be anti-formalist. Some people think that people who are not in true love and show true devotion are not really "married" in an idealized sense. Hence the expressions: "the marriage is dead." Or, "during our last year of marriage, we really weren't married." These have cash-value in the language game -- people perfectly understand what is meant.

The reason why they are meaningful has to do with the cognition of family resemblance words. Whenever you use such a word, you are only using a set of properties that can be substituted or exchanged for other family properties in other uses. Think of it as legos. Sometimes a word has piece-A connected with piece-B, other times it has A connected with C. The brain is very good at seeing the lego pieces (see Steven Pinker).  

And as I said to you before, J (which you did not understand): the language game of Pope, Tiger and "bachelor" is a familiar one. It transposes form and function. In one use, "the Pope is a bachelor," the format of the idea is present (being legally unmarried to a spouse) but the function is not (being eligible to date). With Tiger, it's opposite. The format is NOT present (he's legally married), but the function is present (eligible to date). This feature of form and function is what creates many border cases for which people elect to uses fences (or not!).

There is some talk in your mail of "standards of correctness," and that making meaning isn't the same as "being correct." You also make another rather curious assertion: "[The Pope is] a more significant counter-example to the standard analysis." All of this is either too Russellian or simply confused. It seems to say that you have an admiration for Wittgenstein, but really are not full-blooded here. That's fine. But let me try one last time to help:

1.You seem to be saying that if someone doesn't observe popular boundaries for words that have family resemblance, that what they say without those fences must be relegated to some other sphere that can't quite count the same in the game of counter-example or analysis. ("Standard analysis" and "being incorrect" while making successful meaning on the subject). It's actually the other way around. Because you purport to play "logic" with sentences -- a game that generally aspires to rigid notation -- you must specify the sense of the term ahead of time, or else the terms in the proposition cannot be conjugated. You need to tell us what fences you are observing and quit telling others that their meaning without fences doesn't count for the matter being asserted.

Also, this idea that if one doesn't observe "standard fences," that they must be joking or using slang or being creative -- this is not understood. At one point you even call these uses "parasitic" to literal use. I call this the Joe Friday standard. First, if you just substitute the word "technical" for "literal," there would be enough retreat for agreement. Fences are precisely for that -- technicality. Common fences stand for the idea "in a technical sense."

Secondly, these things are BORDER CASES. (You don't seem to be able to see that). Stephen Pinker notes in Words and Rules (last chapter) that the term "bachelor" is a family-resemblance type word, and he purports to do so as a linguist looking at empirical research. (I'm not a fan of that maneuver, so consider it additive). Whether something is a border case is a function of what it shares in common with non-border cases. Something is present, something isn't. That's what makes it speakable "in a sense."

Secondly, you are confusing exquisite sense with word pun. (See my quotes about Wittgenstein on exquisite sense to Glen, and the fact that W thought they were not metaphors or jokes or what not). Lastly, even metaphor and jokes may convey meaningful information. (again, See my W quotes to Glen re: the value of art to educate us).      

2. Your traveling salesman example  --  his intention is not what matters; it is what makes the matter linguistically meaningful. Family resemblance is what facilitates the humor. The salesman shares some of the linguistic properties of being a bachelor when he is on the road. What does this mean? It means that he's picked up a couple of the lego pieces along the way. Imagine an 87-year old being put on the show "The Bachelor." If someone watched the show and said, "he doesn't look like a bachelor," they would be saying something meaningful that is not a joke. In this family resemblance, the pieces of stereotype have entered the picture. In your traveling salesman example, stereotype pieces have entered as well. His living like one. That's part of the family.

Your legal examples are way out of bounds. Legal constructs are only EXAMPLES of what these matters can be. Marriage can be anything we structure it to be in law. (See: civil unions). What Tiger has is a legal marriage. That doesn't mean other sense of "marriage" don't exist or are overruled. And the reason you can't go into a Court and say "not married -- family resemblance" is that fences for his legal arrangement are set forth. He understands that way of speaking when entering the arrangement. But that doesn't preclude other senses of expression -- language doesn't work that way. (Compare: you think such-and-such is not a "drug." The law does. The legal idea is only the legal sense).

Also, if someone asked Tiger under oath whether he was a "bachelor," he would be perfectly right to say, "not technically." That would be the most honest answer he could give. (And if he said no, people would be right to scoff).

And as to the lawyer who advises clients about what to say, lawyers make a living out of family resemblance. See Clinton and what "sex" is. Or the sense of "is." (The former came about from attorney preparation).  
You have this idea that if bachelor is used without a common fence, that it does havoc for other ideas. I've told you it does not. This is because the fence is still local to those uses. You seem to think I am calling for the abolition of the fence or something.

Bachelor of arts introduces polysemy. You are right that language seems to exclude these. (See my paper that I referenced to you a while back)  

I don't know what you are doing here. To say whether "bachelor" serves the idea of "eligibility to date," you sense-shift. This doesn't help us. What we would really need is to gather uses currently in play and see if eligibility is present in the context (or how frequent). It sounds like a project for linguists, not philosophers. But it doesn't seem at all incorrect that the use of the word facilitates this idea. The concept seems invented precisely for it. In fact, the reason why marriage was a strong barometer for the term was that it originated during a time when marriage held a different social status. As the culture changed with respect to this, so did the utility (and idea) of "bachelor."   

In previous mails, I used the phrase "school-boy sense." 
I can't agree with you that there are not levels of understanding Wittgenstein and that some people don't get the whole picture. Wittgenstein is the quintessential philosopher where this is true.
 I can't agree with you here, and it would take a lecture on the subject. We'll do this one separately by another mail some day. (Wittgenstein's judging remark had nothing to do with this matter or any matter we're discussing).

Another topic for another day. As I understand Frege, the difference between he and Wittgenstein would boil down to this: one sees sense and reference; the other sees sense and family.

Regards and thanks for discussing. (I think I'm out on this one now!)

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html

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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3574 is a reply to message #3568] Tue, 16 February 2010 02:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member


Not completely happy with a couple of points. Doing it again


1. First, check this out. This is my illustration of what the family resemblance of bachelor is: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/austin/ (This is a paper that I am currently working on. I'm trying to graphically depict various family resemblances).

Here is the idea on this. People toss around "bachelor" for specific reasons. The language serves certain purposes. When language is used outside of those purposes, it may become meaningless or problematic in some way. Or when the social circumstances of the purpose change (over time), it is in need of adaptation. I contend that the most solid circumstance that people use the term bachelor is to say something about dating eligibility. It could be eligibility for dating to marry, but need not be limited by that. The following explains why. 

You seem to think that "bachelor" carries with it a kind of chastity grammar with respect to marriage similar to what "virgin" does for sex. Bachelor as in: never been touched by marriage. (Note that the Pope has never been so touched and could therefore fit). Surely marriage did grow out of this connotation. And surely this use is still meaningful today. But just as surely, as marriage and dating culture changed, other connotations became applicable. For example, take a look at this intermediate position: eligible for ANY marriage:  http://www.d.umn.edu/~dcole/bachelor.htm

I think it is problematic to make marriage, 1st or otherwise, the central purpose. Here's why:

The term "bachelor" originated during a period when marriage played a different role in culture. You didn't have live-ins, and when you came courting, it was quickly for a hand in marriage. And if you didn't marry, there was something wrong with you. The language culture that used the word "bachelor" under these circumstances is different from ours. It was logical to use marriage as a barometer for eligibility back then, because marriage was the goal of eligibility. It no longer is (necessarily). A new vocabulary is upon us: the age of "serial marriage" is here. As is the age of no marriage. As is the age of having a child to receive a nice standard of living. It isn't realistic to think that senses of "bachelor" would not grow out of this change. (Hence the terms, "eligible bachelor" or "confirmed bachelor").  

Note also that being married does not preclude being married again, especially where the marriage is poor, separated, a joke, for convenience, etc. Some may find someone in this circumstance "an eligible prospect."   

The critical point here is sense and family. If someone talks with a sharp boundary with one another, that sense of bachelor may work just fine between them. But if others talk about THE SAME EXACT FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCE not using a sharp boundary, whatever they get done in the language game, they are entitled to. And if these uses only have SOME elements in common with the exemplar, that is EXACTLY what family resemblance is all about. In fact, these partial border cases are exactly why people use and tear down fences in language all the time.

And note that it isn't just border cases. One could even offer an "exquisite sense" or a kind of "extended sense" -- this, too, has cash value. This was Wittgenstein's yellow "e." If someone can catch the sense -- if they can "get it" -- its a "goal" (i.e., score) in the language game. That language has this property is undeniable. And for you to say that if anyone uses "bachelor" that allows for border cases or extensions, that they are therefore not creating "correct meaning," is clearly NOT Wittgensteinian. And neither is the view that the dictionary is prescriptive! (I'm still numb on that one). All that the dictionary is, is REFERENTIAL. You consult it when making plays. It's more like a map or guide for usage. It's like the playbook in football. If the audible works, it works. So does breaking off a pattern. They don't say "the play doesn't count because it wasn't in the playbook." One could never say, "meaning taken off the
board because dictionary definition violated." This is the difference between Russell's view and is EXACTLY what meaning is use is all about.    

The key to this issue is not what you or I say, or even what the dictionary necessarily says. It is a much simpler thing. It is what people in cultural life say today that can create successful meaning between one another about the matter in question. And so the question boils down to something very basic: what ARE people doing? Do people use "bachelor" in senses where attractive, rich, legally-married people are behaving like they are not married? That is, do they use it in egregious cases of marriage? Imagine scoring a child with Tiger (do you know what that would pay?) 

And if people do successfully use it for these cases, does it even matter that they are speaking humorously or with an idealization in mind? Absolutely not. The reason why is that there is little FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENCE between a married man who dates regularly and an unmarried man who does, for the common purposes that present themselves for the word.

I asked my daughter this question over weekend. Was Tiger a bachelor? Her first response was "no." But after thinking about it, she said something quite brilliant: "not technically." She saw that matter had become a technicality. And she saw this because, like her father, she understood language. That is all one needs: to see that the boundary is not the meaning, but is only a way to cut off a marginal case. I bet if gave a multiple choice question that asked whether Tiger was a "bachelor," and one of the responses was "only technically," that would win.   

And I bet also it would be reasonable in some quarters to hear people say he was a "de facto bachelor." This, too, is redeemable for cash value.

And the question becomes, then, what do we do with this sentence: "If Tiger is married, he is not a bachelor." Here's what we do: we say it is true ONLY IN A SENSE OF TALKING. Because Tiger is border case, and because the VERNACULAR of "bachelor" could be readily understood if used against him -- and would not be "wrong" when doing so -- one more thing follows. We really ought NOT to pretend that logic statements govern this matter. "A logical truth with no counter-example." Instead, if we were to really do formal logic, we would need to broadcast the sense of the expression beforehand. We would need to say "If Tiger was married legally, he could not be a bachelor in the sense of being a legally unmarried male"  (something that is wholeheartedly pointless!).

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
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[Wittrs] Re: Games with Logic and Bachelor [message #3576 is a reply to message #3574] Tue, 16 February 2010 04:15 Go to previous message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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