By G.J. Warnock
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What Austin has to say on this no doubt important matter is extremely brief and rather cryptic. There are, he says, tempting replies that will not really do. We may be tempted to say that, quite often, we do actually find out in all sorts of unproblematic cases that what people say is true, so that, though our experience in that respect is not quite invariably reassuring, it is possible to construct a kind of inductive argument which makes it rational, in general, to believe them rather than not.
And it seems fantastic to suggest that our ‘belief’ that there are people besides ourselves with Knowledge and Other Minds 33 whom communication is possible is just a theory that fits in well with the experience we have. ’ It cannot be treated as a completely, genuinely open question whether the business of communicating—which provides us, incidentally, with all the terms in which we ourselves think as well as talk—is aimed, so to speak, at the communication of truth. 30 It cannot sensibly be treated coolly, as something that we may or may not be ‘justified’ in doing, or that stands in any need of argumentative justification.
First, I need to know, in virtue of the language’s conventions of reference, what item, or which item, it is pertinent to the question on hand to inspect; and second, I need to know, in virtue of the language’s conventions of sense, what it is that that item is said to be. In So no great problem can arise in either case: the I-word ‘1227’ makes a reference uniquely to the item 1227, so that that is the item pertinently to be inspected; and the assertive linking of the T-word ‘rhombus’ says quite unambiguously of the item referred to that it is a rhombus.
Austin by G.J. Warnock