FROM pages 3-15 of:
Logical Foundations of Probability (1950).
by RUDOLF CARNAP
§ 2. On the Clarification of an Explicandum
By the procedure of explication we mean the transformation of an inexact, prescientific concept, the explicandum, into a new exact concept, the explicatum. Although the explicandum cannot be given in exact terms, it should be made as clear as possible by informal explanations and examples. The task of explication consists in transforming a given more or less inexact concept into an exact one or, rather, in replacing the first by the second. We call the given concept (or the term used for it) the explicandum, and the exact concept proposed to take the place of the first (or the term proposed for it) the explicatum. The explicandum may belong to everyday language or to a previous stage in the development of scientific language. The explicatum must be given by explicit rules for its use, for example, by a definition which incorporates it into a well-constructed system of scientific either logicomathematical or empirical concepts. The term 'explicatum' has been suggested by the following two usages. Kant calls a judgment explicative if the predicate is obtained by analysis, of the subject. Husserl, in speaking about the synthesis of identification between a confused, nonarticulated sense and a subsequently intended distinct, articulated sense, calls the latter the 'Explikat' of the former. (For both uses see Dictionary Of Philosophy , ed. D. Runes, p. 105). What I mean by 'explicandum' and 'explicatum' is to some extent similar to what C. H. Langford calls 'analysandum' and 'analysans': "the analysis then states an appropriate relation of equivalence between the analysandum and the analysans"
("The notion of analysis in Moore's philosophy", in The Philosophy of G. E. Moore , ed. P. A. Schilpp, pp. 321-42; see p. 323); he says that the motive of an analysis "is usually that of supplanting a relatively vague idea by a more precise one" (ibid., p. 329).
(Perhaps the form 'explicans' might be considered instead of 'explicatum'; however, I think that the analogy with the terms 'definiendum' and 'definiens' would not be useful because, if the explication consists in giving an explicit definition, then both the definiens and the definiendum in this definition express the explicatum, while the explicandum does not occur.) The procedure of explication is here understood in a wider sense than the procedures of analysis and clarification which Kant, Husserl, and Langford have in mind. The explicatum (in my sense) is in many cases the result of an analysis of the explicandum (and this has motivated my choice of the terms); in other cases, however, it deviates deliberately from the explicandum but still takes its place in some way; this will become clear by the subsequent examples. A problem of explication is characteristically different from ordinary scientific (logical or empirical) problems, where both the datum and the solution are, under favorable conditions, formulated in exact terms (for example, 'What is the product of 3 and 5?', 'What happens when an electric current goes through water?'). In a problem of explication the datum, [p. 4:] viz., the explicandum, is not given in exact terms; if it were, no explication would be necessary. Since the datum is inexact, the problem itself is not stated in exact terms; and yet we are asked to give an exact solution. This is one of the puzzling peculiarities of explication. It follows that, if a solution for a problem of explication is proposed, we cannot decide in an exact way whether it is right or wrong. Strictly speaking, the question whether the solution is right or wrong makes no good sense because there is no clear-cut answer. The question should rather be whether the proposed solution is satisfactory, whether it is more satisfactory than another one, and the like. What is meant by these questions will soon be made clearer.
Before we turn to the chief question, viz., what are the requirements for a satisfactory solution of a problem of explication, that is to say, for a satisfactory explicatum, let us look somewhat more at the way in which the problem is to be stated, that is, how the explicandum is to be given. There is a temptation to think that, since the explicandum cannot be given in exact terms anyway, it does not matter much how we formulate the problem. But this would be quite wrong. On the contrary, since even in the best case we cannot reach full exactness, we must, in order to prevent the discussion of the problem from becoming entirely futile, do all we can to make at least practically clear what is meant as the explicandum. What X means by a certain term in contexts of a certain kind is at least practically clear to Y if Y is able to predict correctly X's interpretation for most of the simple, ordinary cases of the use of the term in those contexts. It seems to me that, in raising problems of analysis or explication, philosophers very frequently violate this requirement. They ask questions like: 'What is causality?', 'What is life?', 'What is mind?', 'What is justice?', etc. Then they often immediately start to look for an answer without first examining the tacit assumption that the terms of the question are at least practically clear enough to serve as a basis for an investigation, for an analysis or explication. Even though the terms in question are unsystematic, inexact terms, there are means for reaching a relatively good mutual understanding as to their intended meaning. An indication of the meaning with the help of some examples for its intended use and other examples for uses not now intended can help the understanding. An informal explanation in general terms may be added. All explanations of this kind serve only to make clear what is meant as the explicandum; they do not yet supply an explication, say, a definition of the explicatum; they belong still to the formulation of the problem, not yet to the construction of an answer. (Examples. 1. I might say, for example: "I mean by the explicandum 'salt', not its wide sense which it has in chemistry but its [p. 5:] narrow sense in which it is used in the household language". This explanation is not yet an explication; the latter may be given, for instance, by the compound expression 'sodium chloride' or the synonymous symbol 'NaCl' of the language of chemistry. 2. "I am looking for an explication of the term 'true', not as used in phrases like 'a true democracy', 'a true friend', etc., but as used in everyday life, in legal proceedings, in logic, and in science, in about the sense of 'correct', 'accurate', 'veridical', 'not false', 'neither error nor lie', as applied to statements, assertions, reports, stories, etc." This explanation is not yet an explication; an explication may be given by a definition within the framework of semantical concepts, for example, by Tarski's definition of 'true' in [Wahrheitsbegriff] (for abbreviated titles in square brackets see the Bibliography at the end of this volume), or by D17-1 below. By explanations of this kind the reader may obtain step by step a clearer picture of what is intended to be included and what is intended to be excluded; thus he may reach an understanding of the meaning intended which is far from perfect theoretically but may be sufficient for the practical purposes of a discussion of possible explications.
§ 3. Requirements for an Explicatum
A concept must fulfil the following requirements in order to be an adequate explicatum for a given explicandum: (1) similarity to the explicandum, (2) exactness, (3) fruitfulness, (4) simplicity. Suppose we wish to explicate a certain prescientific concept, which has been sufficiently clarified by examples and explanations as just discussed. What is the explication of this concept intended to achieve? To say that the given prescientific concept is to be transformed into an exact one, means, of course, that an exact concept corresponding to the given concept is to be introduced. What kind of correspondence is required here between the first concept, the explicandum, and the second, the explicatum? Since the explicandum is more or less vague and certainly more so than the explicatum, it is obvious that we cannot require the correspondence between the two concepts to be a complete coincidence. But one might perhaps think that the explicatum should be as close to or as similar with the explicandum as the latter's vagueness permits. However, it is easily seen that this requirement would be too strong, that the actual procedure of scientists is often not in agreement with it, and for good reasons. Let us consider as an example the prescientific term 'fish'. In the construction of a systematic language of zoölogy, the concept Fish designated by this term has been replaced by a scientific concept designated by the same term [p. 6:] 'fish'; let us use for the latter concept the term 'piscis' in order to avoid confusion. When we compare the explicandum Fish with the explicatum Piscis, we see that they do not even approximately coincide. The latter is much narrower than the former; many kinds of animals which were subsumed under the concept Fish, for instance, whales and seals, are excluded from the concept Piscis. [The situation is not adequately described by the statement: 'The previous belief that whales (in German even called 'Walfische') are also fish is refuted by zoölogy'. The prescientific term 'fish' was meant in about the sense of 'animal living in water'; therefore its application to whales, etc., was entirely correct. The change which zoölogists brought about in this point was not a correction in the field of factual knowledge but a change in the rules of the language; this change, it is true, was motivated by factual discoveries.] That the explicandum Fish has been replaced by the explicatum Piscis does not mean that the former term can always be replaced by the latter; because of the difference in meaning just mentioned, this is obviously not the case. The former concept has been succeeded by the latter in this sense: the former is no longer necessary in scientific talk; most of what previously was said with the former can now be said with the help of the latter (though often in a different form, not by simple replacement). It is important to recognize both the conventional and the factual components in the procedure of the zoölogists. The conventional component consists in the fact that they could have proceeded in a different way. Instead of the concept Piscis they could have chosen another concept—let us use for it the term 'piscis*' — which would likewise be exactly defined but which would be much more similar to the prescientific concept Fish by not excluding whales, seals, etc. What was their motive for not even considering a wider concept like Piscis* and instead artificially constructing the new concept Piscis far remote from any concept in the prescientific language? The reason was that they realized the fact that the concept Piscis promised to be much more fruitful than any concept more similar to Fish. A scientific concept is the more fruitful the more it can be brought into connection with other concepts on the basis of observed facts; in other words, the more it can be used for the formulation of laws. The zoölogists found that the animals to which the concept Fish applies, that is, those living in water, have by far not as many other properties in common as the animals which live in water, are cold-blooded vertebrates, and have gills throughout life. Hence the concept Piscis defined by these latter properties allows more general statements than any concept defined so as to be more similar to Fish; and this is what makes the concept Piscis more fruitful. [p. 7:]
In addition to fruitfulness, scientists appreciate simplicity in their concepts. The simplicity of a concept may be measured, in the first place, by the simplicity of the form of its definition and, second, by the simplicity of the forms of the laws connecting it with other concepts. This property, however, is only of secondary importance. Many complicated concepts are introduced by scientists and turn out to be very useful. In general, simplicity comes into consideration only in a case where there is a question of choice among several concepts which achieve about the same and seem to be equally fruitful; if these concepts show a marked difference in the degree of simplicity, the scientist will, as a rule, prefer the simplest of them.
According to these considerations, the task of explication may be characterized as follows. If a concept is given as explicandum, the task consists in finding another concept as its explicatum which fulfils the following requirements to a sufficient degree.
1. The explicatum is to be similar to the explicandum in such a way that, in most cases in which the explicandum has so far been used, the explicatum can be used; however, close similarity is not required, and considerable differences are permitted.
2. The characterization of the explicatum, that is, the rules of its use (for instance, in the form of a definition), is to be given in an exact form, so as to introduce the explicatum into a well-connected system of scientific concepts.
3. The explicatum is to be a fruitful concept, that is, useful for the formulation of many universal statements (empirical laws in the case of a nonlogical concept, logical theorems in the case of a logical concept).
4. The explicatum should be as simple as possible; this means as simple as the more important requirements (1), (2), and (3) permits.
Philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians make explications very frequently. But they do not often discuss explicitly the general rules which they follow implicitly. A good explicit formulation is given by Karl Menger in connection with his explication of the concept of dimension ("What is dimension?" Amer. Math. Monthly, 50 , 2-7; see p. 5: § 3 "Criteria for a satisfactory definition" [explication, in our terminology]). He states the following requirements. The explicatum "must include all entities which are always denoted and must exclude all entities which are never denoted" by the explicandum. The explication "should extend the use of the word by dealing with objects not known or not dealt with in ordinary language. With regard to such entities, a definition [explication] cannot help being arbitrary." The explication "must yield many consequences," theorems possessing "generality and simplicity" and connecting the explicatum with concepts of other theories. See also the discussions by C. H. Langford, referred to in § 2. Terminological remarks. 1. The word 'concept' is used in this book as a [p. 8:] convenient common designation for properties, relations, and functions. [Note that (a) it does not refer to terms, i. e., words or phrases, but to their meanings, and (b) it does not refer to mental occurrences of conceiving but to something objective.] For more detailed explanations see [Semantics], p. 230; [Meaning], p. 21. 2. If I speak about an expression (e. g., a word, a phrase, a sentence, etc.) in distinction to what is meant or designated by it, I include it in quotation marks. That this distinction is necessary in order to avoid confusion has become more and more clear in the recent development of logic and analysis of language. 3. If I want to speak about a concept (property, relation, or function) designated by a word, I sometimes use the device of capitalizing the word, especially if it is not a noun (compare [Meaning], p. 17 n.). For example, I might write 'the relation Warmer'; to write instead 'the relation warmer' would took strange and be contrary to English grammar; to write 'the relation of x being warmer than y' would be inconvenient because of its length; the customary way of writing 'the relation 'warmer'' would not be quite correct, because 'warmer' is not a relation but a word designating a relation. Similarly, I shall sometimes write: 'the property (or concept) Fish'
(instead of 'the property of being a fish'); 'the property (or concept) Red' (instead of 'the property of being red' or 'the property of redness'), and the like. Arne Naess defines and uses a concept which seems related to our concept Explicatum ("Interpretation and preciseness. I. Survey of basic concepts" [Oslo Universitetets Studentkontor, 1947] [mimeographed]; this is the first chapter of a forthcoming book). Naess defines 'the formulation U is more precise than T (in the sense that U may with profit be substituted for T)' by 'there are interpretations of T which are not interpretations of U, but there are no interpretations of U which are not also interpretations of T' (ibid., p. 38). This comparative concept enables Naess to deal with a series of consecutive "precisations" of a given concept. Naess announces that a later chapter (iii) of the book will be "devoted to the question of how to measure degrees of ambiguity, vagueness, and similar properties". The comparative concept mentioned and these quantitative concepts may prove to be effective tools for a more penetrating analysis of explication.
§ 4. Classificatory, Comparative, and Quantitative Concepts
A classificatory concept (e. g., Warm) serves for classifying things into two kinds. A comparative concept is a relation based on a comparison, with the sense of 'more (in a certain respect)' (e. g., Warmer) or 'more or equal'. A quantitative concept serves to describe something with the help of numerical values (e. g., temperature). Among the kinds of concept used in science, three are of special importance. We call them classificatory, comparative, and quantitative concepts. We shall make use of this distinction in our later discussion of confirmation and probability. In prescientific thinking classificatory [p. 9:] concepts are used most frequently. In the course of the development of science they are replaced in scientific formulations more and more by concepts of the two other kinds, although they remain always useful for the formulation of observational results. Classificatory concepts are those which serve for the classification of things or cases into two or a few mutually exclusive kinds. They are used, for example, when substances are divided into metals and nonmetals, and again the metals into iron, copper, silver, etc.; likewise, when animals and plants are divided into classes and further divided into orders, families, genera, and, finally, species; when the things surrounding us are described as warm or cold, big or small, hard or soft, etc., or when they are classified as houses, stones, tables, men, etc. In these examples the classificatory concepts are properties. In other cases they are relations, for example, those designated by the phrases 'x is close to y' and 'the person x is acquainted with the field of science y'. (A relation may be regarded as a property of ordered pairs.) Quantitative concepts (also called metrical or numerical concepts or numerical functions) are those which serve for characterizing things or events or certain of their features by the ascription of numerical values; these values are found either directly by measurement or indirectly by calculation from other values of the same or other concepts. Examples of quantitative concepts are length, length of time, velocity, volume, mass, force, temperature, electric charge, price, I. Q., infantile mortality, etc. In many cases a quantitative concept corresponds to a classificatory concept. Thus temperature corresponds to the property Warm; and the concept of a distance of less than five miles corresponds to the relation of proximity. The method of quantitative concepts and hence of measurement was first used only for physical events but later more and more in other fields also, especially in economics and psychology. Quantitative concepts are no doubt the most effective instruments in the scientific arsenal. Sometimes scientists, especially in the fields of social science and psychology, hold the view that in cases where no way is discovered for the introduction of a quantitative concept, nothing remains but to use concepts of the simplest kind, that is, classificatory ones. Here, however, they overlook the possibility and usefulness of comparative concepts, which, in a sense, stand between the two other kinds. Comparative concepts (sometimes called topological or order concepts) serve for the formulation of the result of a comparison in the form of a more-less-statement without the use of numerical values. Before the scientific, quantitative concept of temperature was introduced, everyday language contained comparative concepts. Instead of merely classifying things into a few kinds [p. 10:] with the help of terms like 'hot', 'warm', 'luke-warm', 'cold', a more effective characterization was possible by saying that x is warmer than y (or colder, or equally warm, as the case may be). A comparative concept is always a relation. If the underlying classificatory concept is a property (e. g., Warm), the comparative concept is a dyadic relation, that is, one with two arguments (e. g., Warmer). If the classificatory concept is a dyadic relation (e. g., the relation of x being acquainted with (the field) y), the comparative concept has, in general, four arguments (e. g., the relation of x being better acquainted with y than u with v). It is sometimes useful to regard the tetradic relation as a dyadic relation between two pairs. (We might say, for example: 'the relation of being acquainted holds for the pair x, y to a higher degree than for the pair u, v '.) Sometimes the introduction of a triadic relation is preferred to that of a tetradic relation. If we do not know how to compare the degree of Peter's knowledge in physics with Jack's knowledge in history, we might perhaps be content to use either or both of the two triadic relations expressed by the following phrases: 'x is better acquainted with (the field) y than with v ', ' x is better acquainted with y than u '. The first of these two relations requires that we are able to compare the degree of Peter's knowledge in physics with that in history, which might seem problematical. The second relation involves the comparison of Peter's knowledge in physics with that of Jack; here it seems easier to invent suitable tests.
Each of the comparative concepts given above as an example has the meaning of 'more' or 'to a higher degree' with respect to a given classificatory concept. To any of those classificatory concepts (e. g., Warm), we can likewise construct a comparative concept meaning 'less' or 'to a lower degree' (e. g., Less-warm; in other words, Colder); this is the converse of the first comparative concept. In either case the comparative concept, regarded as a dyadic relation (of simple entities, pairs, etc.), has obviously the following relational properties: it is irreflexive, transitive, and (hence) asymmetric. (For definitions of these and other terms of the theory of relations see D25-2.) Note.
In addition to the form of comparative concepts just mentioned, there is another form, less customary but often more useful. A concept of this second kind does not mean 'more' but 'more or equal' with respect to the underlying classificatory concept, in other words, 'to at least the same degree', that is, 'to the same or a higher degree' (e. g., the relation of x being at least as warm as y). Or it may mean 'less or equal' (e. g., the relation of x being less warm than y or equally as warm as y; in other words, of x being at most as warm as y). It is easily seen that a comparative [p. 11:] concept of this second kind, regarded as a dyadic relation, is reflexive and transitive but neither symmetric nor asymmetric. A comparative relation is sometimes of such a kind that, for any x and y, it holds either between x and y or between y and x (or both). In this case the relation (for example, Warmer-Or-Equally-Warm) orders its members in a kind of linear order. If, however, the condition is not fulfilled, then there are incomparable cases. Thus it might perhaps be that we find it possible to compare the scientific achievements of two persons if both work in the same field, while we do not know a way of comparing a physicist with a historian.
In everyday language the first form of comparative concept is much more customary than the second. There are many single words for those of the first form, for instance, 'above', 'beyond', 'after', etc., and especially the comparatives, for instance, 'more', 'warmer', etc., while there are hardly any single words for those of the second form. On the other hand, there is a general trend in the development of the language of science toward concepts which are wider than corresponding concepts of prescientific language by including extreme cases, especially cases of zero value or of identity or equality; for example, the term 'number' is now taken as including 0, 'class' as including the null class, 'velocity' as including the case of rest regarded as velocity 0, etc. With respect to comparative concepts, this trend means a development from those of the first kind to those of the second, because the latter include the boundary case of equality. One advantage of those of the second kind consists in the fact that on the basis of 'more or equal' we can define both 'equal' and 'more' ('x = y' can be defined by 'x y and y x'; 'x y' by 'x y and not y x') while on the basis of 'more' we cannot define either 'equal' or 'more or equal'. For these reasons, when we come to a discussion of a comparative concept of confirmation (§ 8), we shall take one of the second form, as expressed by: 'k is confirmed by e to the same or a higher degree than k' by e' '.
For an analysis of comparative and quantitative concepts and an explanation of the steps to be taken in the construction of concepts of these kinds see Carnap, Physikalische Begriffsbildung (Karlsruhe, 1926). C. G. Hempel and P. Oppenheim have developed and improved the characterizations of the two kinds of concept and illustrated their roles in various fields of science in their book Der Typusbegriff im Lickte der neuen Logik: Wissenschaftstheoretische Untersuchungen sur Konstitutionsforschung und Psychologie (Leiden, 1936). § 5. Comparative and Quantitative Concepts as Explicata
The role of comparative and quantitative concepts as explicata is discussed in preparation for a later discussion of comparative and quantitative concepts of confirmation. [p. 12:] Classificatory concepts are the simplest and least effective kind of concept. Comparative concepts are more powerful, and quantitative concepts still more; that is to say, they enable us to give a more precise description of a concrete situation and, more important, to formulate more comprehensive general laws. Therefore, the historical development of the language is often as follows: a certain feature of events observed in nature is first described with the help of a classificatory concept; later a comparative concept is used instead of or in addition to the classificatory concept; and, still later, a quantitative concept is introduced. (These three stages of development do, of course, not always occur in this temporal order.) The situation may be illustrated with the help of the example of those concepts which have led to the quantitative concept of temperature. The state of bodies with respect to heat can be described in the simplest and crudest way with the help of classificatory concepts like Hot, Warm, and Cold (and perhaps a few more). We may imagine an early, not recorded stage of the development of our language where only these classificatory terms were available. Later, an essential refinement of language took place by the introduction of a comparative term like 'warmer'. In the case of this example, as in many others, this second step was already made in the prescientific language. Finally, the corresponding quantitative concept, that of temperature, was introduced in the construction of the scientific language.
The concept Temperature may be regarded as an explicatum for the comparative concept Warmer. The first of the requirements for explicata discussed in §3, that of similarity or correspondence to the explicandum, means in the present case the following: The concept Temperature is to be such that, in most cases, if x is warmer than y
(in the prescientific sense, based on the heat sensations of the skin), then the temperature of x is higher than that of y. Here a few remarks may be made.
(i) The requirement refers to most cases, not to all cases. It is easily seen that the requirement is fulfilled only in this restricted sense. Suppose I enter a moderately heated room twice, first coming from an overheated room and at a later time coming from the cold outside. Then it may happen that I declare the room, on the basis of my sensations, to be warmer the second time than the first, while the thermometer shows at the second time the same temperature as at the first (or even a slightly higher one). Experiences of this kind do not at all lead us to the conclusion that the concept Temperature defined with reference to the thermometer is inadequate as an explicatum for the concept Warmer. On the contrary, we have become accustomed to let the scientific concept overrule the prescientific [p. 13:] one in all cases of disagreement. In other words, the term 'warmer' has undergone a change of meaning. Its meaning was originally based directly on a comparison of heat sensations, but, after the acceptance of the scientific concept Temperature into our everyday language, the word 'warmer' is used in the sense of 'having a higher temperature'. Thus the experience described above is now formulated as follows: "I believed that the room was at the second time warmer than at the first, but this was an error; the room was actually not warmer; I found this out with the help of the thermometer". For this second, scientific meaning of 'warmer' we shall use in the following discussion the term 'warmer*'.
(ii) The converse of the requirement mentioned above would be this: the concept Temperature is to be such that, if x is not warmer than y (in the prescientific sense), then the temperature of x is not higher than that of y. It is important to realize that this is not required, not even "in most, cases". When the difference between the temperatures of x and y is small, then, as a rule, we notice no difference in our heat sensations. This again is not taken as a reason for rejecting the concept Temperature. On the contrary, here again we have become accustomed to the new, scientific concept Warmer*, and thus we say: "z is actually warmer* than y, although we cannot feel the difference".
(iii) Thus, we have two scientific concepts corresponding to the prescientific concept Warmer. The one is the comparative concept Warmer*, the other the quantitative concept Temperature. Either of them may be regarded as an explicatum of Warmer. Both are defined with reference to the thermometer. Since the thermometer has a higher discriminating power than our heat sensations, both scientific concepts are superior to the prescientific one in allowing more precise descriptions. The procedure leading from the explicandum to either of the two explicata is as follows. At first the prescientific concept is guiding us in our choice of an explication (with possible exceptions, as discussed earlier). Once an explicatum is defined in a relatively simple way, we follow its guidance in cases where the prescientific concept is not sufficiently discriminative. It would be possible but highly inadvisable to define a concept Temperature in such a way that x and y are said to have the same temperature whenever our sensations do not show a difference. This concept would be in closer agreement with the explicandum than the concept Temperature actually used. But the latter has the advantage of much greater simplicity both in its definition — in other words its method of measurement — and in the laws formulated with its help.
(iv) Of the two scientific terms 'warmer*' and 'temperature', the latter [p. 14:] is the one important for science; the former serves merely as a convenient abbreviation for 'having a higher temperature'. The quantitative concept Temperature has proved its great fruitfulness by the fact that it occurs in many important laws. This is not always the case with quantitative concepts in science, even if they are well defined by exact rules of measurement. For instance, it has sometimes occurred in psychology that a quantitative concept was defined by an exact description of tests but that the expectation of finding laws connecting the values thus measured with values of other concepts was not fulfilled; then the concept was finally discarded as not fruitful. If it is a question of an explication of a prescientific concept, then a situation of the kind described, where we do not succeed in finding an adequate quantitative explicatum, ought not to discourage us altogether from trying an explication. It may be possible to find an adequate comparative explicatum. Let us show this by a fictitious example. The experience leading to the concept Temperature was first a comparative one; it was found that, if x is warmer than y (in the prescientific sense) and we bring a body of mercury first in contact with x and later with y, then it has at the first occasion a greater volume than at the second. By a certain device it was made possible to measure the small differences in the volume of the mercury; and that was taken as basis for the quantitative concept Temperature. Now let us assume fictitiously that we did not find technical means for measuring the differences in the volume of the mercury, although we were able to observe whether the mercury expands or contracts. In this case we should have no basis for a quantitative concept Temperature, but it would still be possible to define the comparative concept Warmer* with reference to an expansion of the. mercury. This scientific concept Warmer* could then be taken as explicatum for the prescientific concept Warmer. Here, in the fictitious case, the concept Warmer* would be of greater importance than it is in actual physics, because it would be the only explicatum. Note that Warmer* here is essentially the same concept as Warmer* in the earlier discussion but that there is a difference in the form of the two definitions. In the former case we defined Warmer* in terms of higher temperature, hence with the help of a quantitative concept; here, in the fictitious case, it is defined with reference to the comparative concept of the expansion of mercury without the use of quantitative concepts. The distinction between these two ways of defining a comparative concept, the quantitative way and the purely comparative, that is, nonquantitative, way, will be of importance later when we discuss the comparative concept of confirmation.
To make a weaker fictitious assumption, suppose that the volume [p. 15:] differences could be measured and hence the quantitative concept Temperature could be defined but that — this is the fictitious feature — no important laws containing this concept had been found. In this case the concept would be discarded as not fruitful. And hence in this case likewise the comparative concept Warmer* would be taken as the only explicatum for Warmer.
Later, when we discuss the problem of explication for the concept of confirmation, we shall distinguish three concepts, the classificatory, the comparative, and the quantitative concept of confirmation. They are analogous to the concepts Warm, Warmer, and Temperature; thus the results of the present discussion will then be utilized.
[Boardman's note: Although I am unable to verify these references (the Lawrence library copy of Logical Foundations of Probability having been stolen), here are the works to which Carnap probably is referring in the excerpt:]
[Wahrheitsbegriff] = A. Tarski, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprachen,"
1 Studia Philosophica 261 (1935).
[Meaning] = R. Carnap, Meaning and Necessity, University of ChicagoPress, 1947.
[Semantics] = R. Carnap, Introduction to Semantics, Harvard University Press, 1942
Boardman's Notes: The Criteria of Adequacy of An Explication, illustrated by a discussion of Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic:
Let's consider the criteria of adequacy of an explication, showing how we fashion it. Any concept or term — even a vague one so long as it is sufficiently clear to be worth clarifying — will have instances which, as (virtually) everyone will agree, fall under it, and instances which just as clearly and unquestionably don't fall under it. Since an explication is not replacing an old concept or term with an utterly new one, but is the clarification of the old one, the explication must agree with most of the clear cut applications of the old concept. Notice that in fashioning his verifiability principle (of the literal significance of a grammatical sentence) in his Language, Truth and Logic, Ayer tailors it to have the same result as most of our clearly agreed upon uses of the concept of "meaningful": clearly, according to the old concept, some sentences which we are not physically able to verify ("the moon tastes like cheese") may none the less be meaningful; and so also some universally general sentences and existentially general sentences. The new concept of "literally meaningful" will have the same result.
A concept which is a candidate for explication will typically have an important set of borderline cases, and these will be of two sorts: there will be instances to which the concept or term is differently applied (or not applied) by different people; and there will be cases about which virtually everyone is in a quandary whether the concept properly applies to it. Part of the job of clarifying the old concept will require that the explication settle many, or at least many of the most important, of these formerly borderline cases. Sentences of metaphysics and theology would probably belong to this borderline area, and Ayer shows how his verifiability principle settles the question whether these sentences are meaningful.
The main task to be performed by an explication of an old concept or term is spelling out a rationale for why it applied in the instances where its application is continued, and why it did not apply to the instances to which it was clearly denied. And further, it ought to explain why the borderline cases were a subject of dispute: for example, it ought to allow us to show that a borderline case did have some of the characteristics which belong to the concept although it lacked some of the other, elusive, ones; or it ought to allow us to show how the instance could have understandably been mistaken for an instance of the concept. Thus, while no one has been tempted to treat "Quadruplicity drinks procrastination" as a meaningful sentence, lots of persons have supposed metaphysical and religious and ethical assertions to be meaningful (and, accordingly, have tried to give arguments for them, have tried to teach them to others, and so on); an explication of "meaningful" such as Ayer's ought to help explain why so many intelligent people mistook metaphysical and religious and ethical assertions for ones to which proof was relevant.
Further, when an explication of an old concept spells out a rationale for its application, that rationale ought to make sense out of various of the important consequences of the concept's applying to an instance. For example, a consequence of a sentence's being meaningless is that one is wasting his time in trying to find evidence for the sentence, or in trying to trace the implications of the sentence, or in trying to use it in the ways in which we use meaningful sentences. An adequate explication of "meaningful" ought to account for the ways in which we "treat" meaningful sentences very differently from meaningless sentences.
Finally, although an explication is expected to solve, or to help solve, various philosophical problems, our justification for the explication ought to be independent of such a solution. Otherwise, offering an explication would be begging the question. If Ayer is disputing with more traditional philosophers over the value of metaphysical assertions, Ayer may not argue for the adequacy of his explication on the ground that it makes those metaphysical assertions meaningless since this is precisely the matter under dispute; Ayer must instead justify his explication on the independent grounds that outside of the disputed area, the explication offers substantial clarification — a result which even the metaphysician must concede if the explication is adequate.
[Boardman's note on the text: Here are some standard definitions of some of the terms Carnap uses. A symmetrical relation is one where if one thing has the relation to a second thing, then the second must have it to the first; e. g., the relation, is the same height as.
An asymmetrical relation is one where if one thing has the relation to a second thing, the second cannot have it to the first; e. g., is taller than.
A nonsymmetrical relation is one which is neither symmetrical nor asymmetrical; e. g., is infatuated with.
A transitive relation is one where if one thing has the relation to a second thing, and the second thing has it to a third thing, the first must have it to the third; e. g., is taller than.
An intransitive relation is one where if one thing has the relation to a second thing, and the second thing has the relation to a third thing, the first cannot have it to the third; e. g., is a parent of.
A nontransitive relation is one which is neither transitive nor intransitive; e. g., loves.
A totally reflexive relation is one which any thing has to itself; .e. g, is identical with.
A reflexive relation is one where if one thing has the relation to anything at all, then it must have it to itself; e. g., is written in the same key as.
An irreflexive relation is one which nothing can have to itself; e. g., is taller than.
A nonreflexive relation is one which is neither reflexive nor irreflexive; e. g., is critical of.
Finally, when logicians speak of the arguments of a relation, they refer to the items which are related by the relation; e. g., in Desdemona loves Cassio, Desdemona and Cassio are the arguments of the relation, loves. A relation is dyadic or triadic, etc., depending on the number of its "arguments."] Return.