North American Philosophical Publications
Partial Structures and the Logic of Azande Author(s): Newton da Costa and Steven French Source: American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 325-339 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the North American Philosophical Publications Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20009835 . Accessed: 25/06/2011 06:03
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1991) we have at?
to lay down the basis of an alter? tempted account native in which is inconsistency in model terms. are beliefs beliefs are true
propositions. within (re-)formulations. certain beliefs. is that of classical logic. In a series of recent works (da Costa 1989.Philosophical American Quarterly 1995 Number Volume 4. p. 1991. Thus." One conclusion that has been reached echoes Kyburg's renowned claim is appropri? that "the demand for consistency ate for angels. define a notion of "partial." re? accurate for a more truth." where p is a "semi representation. 5000 B. over the past several years. p. in our faces.
of our under? reappraisal of what it is to be rational is an and it is not yet clear endeavor. In par? theoretic analysed is that inconsis? claim ticular. scientific and "boom" "natural. 141) and efforts have been made to demonstrate the suitable that. our central the tency can be accommodated through struc? of so-called introduction "partial the model-theoretic tures. True.
PARTIAL STRUCTURES AND THE LOGIC OF AZANDE
Newton da Costa and Steven French
The inconsistent people I have known have not seemed to have a higher ratio of false at beliefs to true ones than those who make a superhuman effort to maintain consistency save themselves consistent will probably all costs. come under concerted attack. in which and the ex? leads to triviality consistency set. October 32. The de? notions (appropriate) of such formulations and the velopment
on-going what is to replace what Elster calls the "thin" account of rationality sketched above. people who are compulsively certain false beliefs. that certain propositions of the set of and the structure on which the framework they
V V HY should beliefs?1 Because. with workers from a number of fields tracking its across a range of putative "kinds" prevalence or forms of reasoning: formal. of inconsistency existence is not fatal to of rationality. da Costa and French 1990a. and Other Philosophical Fantasies. 1993b. On that p is partially true." or "pragmatic. as those that Sperber namely designates are to be repre? (1982). the Principle to be one of the most fundamen? taken fundamental?of the most tal?perhaps struts and spars in the frame? the assorted work of rationality (Lukes 1970). This view has." where but rather as "belief p is some proposition. not men" (Kyburg 1987. St. 40)
Introduction one be consistent in one's it is typically answered. Smullyan. Martin's Press 1983. of a been there has recently something in the study of inconsistency." propositional Our aim in the present paper is to extend to the phenomenon of this treatment 325
element an inconsistent
. in? hang.
1993a. 1990b. This allows flection stances our actual doxastic circum? an and formally incorporates to prevent of fallibility sufficient of
set from blowing belief up this account. In particular. but I'm afraid they will also miss many true ones! (R." within ap? in terms of which one can formally proach. "representational" sented not as "belief that p is true.C. on what is of the belief plosion to as the "rationalist" sometimes referred is of Non-Contradiction view.
magical. member of a clan is found to be a witch. benge. facts? fusal to face the epistemic Responses is to write off the One obvious response as irrational. the set must be consistent and the beliefs. on this topic. can be treated in a simi? It is the purported of such existence that supplies much of the grist to examples the relativists' mill and offers the most ob? lar way. 3. 5. Let us consider. any translation utterances of representatives of the culture of the attribution involves In effect. The Azande. Every man 1989. "thin" account of rationality regains its uni? as such. Azande child-like illogical. a witch is a heritable substance)2. Being is inherited the witchcraft substance the same-sex of a witch. by Evans-Pritchard are Azande believe that certain individuals "witch? witches. even to begin to translation talk of the beliefs of another culture. as a genuine of the translation. 34). Witchcraft substance is always inherited by the same-sexed children of a witch.
2." determined through such as that of the "poisoned chicken. Man A of clan C is a witch. to be a set of beliefs. of cultural the suggestion Ignoring in such a response. pp. the most then. we shall ex? amine the well known and much discussed case of Zande witchcraft beliefs. yet some? to get the thing like itmust be presupposed off the ground. Again. Charity. 4. by virtue of their possessing craft substance" Evans Pritchard. The nature of this "something" and its location we are con? the kind of account within to elaborate cerned here will be discussed towards the end of this essay. As recorded the (1937). As Evans-Pritchard in one of the most reproduced remarks said. vious to the rationalist. non child-like particularly in a re? notes. Azande see in the literature the sense of this argument but they do not and itwould involve the accept its conclusions. all members of the same sex of the clan must be witches. inherent it imperialism once one notes into implausibility collapses as could not be described in their other. should we respond How. even. Zande Reasoning come concerned that
stance. occurring to the hapless fowl toxin. In particular. A possible escape of Charity which by the Principle rejects. to this re? then. do not ac? however. Attri? by offspring are of the activity of witchcraft butions to explain a variety of events and are made trait:
. cept such an inference. particular putative as Since a Zande clan can be delineated a group of interrelated indi? biologically seem to follow that if one it would viduals. that the Azande
The example of Zande witchcraft beliefs has acquired the status of a cultural datum can successive against which philosophers test their particular views of rationality. perhaps case study of a putative set of in? famous consistent beliefs. will be administered and the result will be associated with the an? swers to a particular a question regarding case of witchcraft. although we suspect that other examples. The argument has been clearly expressed sub? by Jennings: 1. The Zande clan is a group of persons re? to one another through lated biologically the male line.) in clan C is a witch.326 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
"cross-cultural" where the inconsistency: of another beliefs culture appear inconsis? tent in our terms. whole notion in contradiction of witchcraft were they to do so (Evans-Pritchard. has also versality. inconsistent under fire in recent years. (Jennings
to accept the premises The Azande appear but not the conclusion. dealings. such as the beliefs of the Nuer. As Cooper cent discussion in that we shall analyse more such a view implies a detail shortly. 21 (see for a discussion of the nature of this 23." Typi? a dose of a naturally cally. p. All and only witches have witchcraft
route is provided tional. who is challenge most ex? the devil of (at its caught between and the deep blue treme) logical relativism sea of writing off an entire culture as irra?
the use of "oracles.
Barnes in particular.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 327
degree of cultural schizophrenia that is clearly of the Azande maintain Pritchard
on the part to
those Zande problem
1975. 249. but shall simply note that Zande a prima facie exam? liefs appear to provide in scheme ple of an alternative conceptual which not only those beliefs that are held to be true are different. and their refer? ences to witchcraft. 45. concur. are cor? of the relativist Those persuasion keen to exploit the example. ruthlessness variable and difficult to ground patterns of inference are. sufficient to be made. is an There ceptions to be drawn. strut in the fundamental critical supporting framework of rationality (Lukes 1970). are turned to practitioners and again to provide constraints upon again the possibilities of rational thought. we see our? as working the approach within outlined in his classic Horton by "African Traditional and Thought see also Horton Science" (1967. have homed in on the rationalist invocation of these "laws of logic. some form of the Principle to invoke of and claim that in abstracting the Charity above from Zande utterances. can be divided responses that are broadly rationalist be? and
1982). Quine's views on this point are well known.
is. it would seem. 20). We shall not rehearse here the three steps to relativism and presented by Barnes be? Bloor. will be removed (see Cooper. is response. I had no difficulty in using as Azande use Zande notions themselves them. be a demand for iron laws of logic (1982. but it is obviously de? analogy on an appropriate characterization pendent criticism that earlier of science. 240 and p. Just as there is always a certain demand for iron s? there seems always to laws of economics. and in phasis particu? as a lar the Principle of Non-Contradiction. whereas they should be taken as analogous to the highly enti? theoretical ties of. with regard to Zande when we see how an individual uses them we may say that they are mystical but we cannot say that his use of them is illogical or even that it is uncritical. heartily and in selves broadly paper Western This is a view with which we clear below. then. though often perform little of their time
for on the "laws" of logic. This forms part of a gen? also
it is ironic that logicians. but also the very framework of justification and rationality. form or another recalls Horton's Cooper argument of illogicality that the response trades on an incorrect the scientific between analogy and magico-religious It views frameworks. say. Towards the end of his work he further that beliefs.
accounts of an incor? magico-religious thought adopted rect or inaccurate analogy with certain con? of scientific beliefs. for in Zandeland
lows on another idea mon-sense as reasonably on follows as another one com? in our
own society There
(p. as will be made this respect. whilst frequent enough. physics. remarks. some sort of logical structure to allow inferences of one here. to their talk in volume bear no comparison other matters. 541). respondingly it as further grist to their anti-ration? using alist mill. but a of the appearance structed. If due attention is paid to the context an alternative con? and translation manual inconsistency p. and Bloor. Once the idiom is learnt the rest is one mystical idea fol? easy. like Cooper. spirits personi? fied causes. the precise Of course. argument has gone awry with the transla? something tion. will have to be attended at the very least. Evans (Cooper that "most of their emphasizes talk is common-sense talk. fn.
Alternative tween those
." noting that:
relativist. 247). about Similarly. p. The obvious rationalist then. it would have to rule out those translations that do not preserve else the Bar? classical logic (or nes and Bloor line regains its bite). and who freely confess how very little is agreed upon by the totality of in their field. with her em?
it takes up ritual in comparison with very more mundane occupations" (p. for criticisms). form of the Principle that is invoked here to very carefully. as some kind of primitive. 40). who expose with admirable how problematic. broadly equally beliefs pose a particular the rationalist. p.
recall also Bar? nes and Bloor. 79). pro? specific Cooper's three is to advocate Lukasiewicz's posal and applied valued logic L3. Thus he claims that. be achieved. in re? follows Horton certain magico-religious proposi? garding tions. point Returning a recent of there has been reengagement in this spe? debate the rationalist-relativist on the na? the emphasis cific context with ture and role of alternative logics. Of course. we certainly to that of all principles analogous reject to be needs since some foothold Charity. ones. Bloor. Thus the criticism of irration? at least allow for the possibility is to of rationality ality. "primitive" themselves. and later. there is simply no contradiction 1976. and it Secondly. as elaborated of to the foundations Reichenbach by In L3. Jennings. ally is embedded if magico-religious he argues. nes. in L3. crucial to get off the has a chance of course. proach. propositions mechanics. for Bar? in use in the Zande and Jennings. see Davidson distinction. plays a role in Davidson's against argument scheme the very idea of a conceptual (1973. ground. p. 45). p. to the central above. has its own "Witchcraft logic. if First. 1989). its own rules of thought. there this naturalist Leaving as to what kind of logic is is no indication case. or kinds of this is all part specific. to be made clear which needs form. claim aside. logic. the but it is worth noting at this stage.. the Prin? following and uncontroversial is by no means ciple abound. Logic are so? of thought which shared patterns from among the various pat? cially selected to which we are naturally terns of thought inclined" (Jennings. that Zande and suggest claim seriously it even
are embedded a beliefs within witchcraft so that within non-standard the global logic. most with (!). such as those expressed by Zande as analogous to highly witchcraft beliefs. Jennings (Barnes as "those itself is characterized 1989). to be analo? can be shown inconsistencies ones. 275. out if translation is to get off the chipped there does exist such a ground. logics. First of all.. re? use of the Principle of Charity restricted moves belief of irrational the possibility sets at the very outset. importantly meshes quite nicely with the view to be pre? sented below. the very idea of a sub? and. and second inconsistencies actu? beliefs that the system of "primitive" The first stage would in L3. translated a rational to be a a belief must belief be before is that we should belief!). Hav? have any distinguishing power to do not wish ing said that. ject-object to This forms part of Davidson's response is to cut it off at the knees which relativism. to quantum gous if one in the specific case of Zande beliefs. are culturally But here the and parcel of their relativism. since they cannot be as such (although.328 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
the pre? is hardly going to accept should mechanics that quantum sumption over Zande beliefs witchcraft be favored to applying of the Principle when it comes relativist Mutilation! Minimum of the We shall return to a consideration we have outlined of Charity after Principle our own position. is that un? The problem. by Cooper as we have indicated. p. if our framework at all. (Evans-Pritchard. quantum of the three "truth values" possess may and so the false and indeterminate true. the is embedded thought" "primitive are dissolved. to pull the has the opportunity rationalist out from under them. have taken this Barnes. beliefs that every proposition presumption either true or false is rejected. for Davidson. Let us in this latest round of skirmishing consider more detail. system of beliefs plus logic. rug by arguing on the grounds cultural specificity against is alternative that the embedding logic to that proposed in the case of cer? identical scientific theories. and modifications both criticisms a form of the Principle. Where he differs scientific theoretical on under? is in his emphasis from Horton so between the logical relations standing rather than the called beliefs. a two-stage then adopts Cooper is
ap? be shown it must that. more recently.
. tain (Western) This is the line adopted who. We believe the pitfalls associated avoids that Principle the former and.
According to Coo? "This would be precisely the attitude per. What is important is the spirit of such an approach. given the truth ta? bles of L3. that this cannot provide evidence that the in question has an indetermi? proposition nate truth value. of Nuer beliefs jects them to the same analysis. by Azande a post-mortem test to determine they possess if someone is a witch or not and on the basis of past results of this test. indeed. the statement "Not all are witches" Azande is not regarded as inde? terminate themselves. is un as an in principle garded by the Azande akin to those analysed proposition." The highly theo? retical propositions of science are only indi? a testable in this they have but rectly character very different from those of quan? tum mechanics that Reichenbach considered. classical logic. 25. and those theoretical interest in which situations their be? they express liefs in witchcraft do not force the problem upon them" (p.) The prem? is Jennings' ise that Cooper seizes upon of the heritability 2. Her reasoning is as follows. And Cooper provides no evidence that Azande such regard as untestable in principle. they would regard the contrary position. As he notes in his no special he holds remarks. ability observa? the oft-noted Secondly. that the ward as a "reasonable hypothesis" classical form is abandoned in this domain test? because it is an area where precisely and verification is least available. even concerning are re? of witchcraft substance heritability this provided theoretical. it may be that different classical for differ? logics might be suitable ent belief systems. that can be captured perfectly
can be em? "primitive" religious.
251). the question must be answered testable whether actually regard in such as that expressed propositions 2 as having an indeterminate truth premise an answer to this value. however. reasoning He then puts for? in classical bedded logic. since a good reason for thinking is embedded in a non-clas? system of beliefs sical logic is precisely such that difficulties
. tency (He also considers about twins and sub? case. propositions claim Furthermore. concluding non brief for L3. those which. garded as highly no grounds for assigning them an indeter? minate truth value. a proposition An example of such would be are witches "All Azande and not all Azande are witches." If this conjunction is assigned an indeterminate truth value. he claims. regarding Cooper's to the inconsis? that the attitude of Azande Salmon argues tency is one of indifference. question indirectly by noting. This. Reichenbach by In achieving the second stage of this ac? as to count. The central plank of Salmon's is critique in extending Horton's that. according can ignore without danger" (Cooper. the rogue propositions which would then become analogous to Reichenbach.
notes that the distinction Finally. Cooper between his two stages is somewhat artifi? that a cial. in quantum mechanics. Cooper approaches first of all. to we p. at Cooper's We in have looked work some detail because one of the it represents not few examples in this debate of someone the existence of alter? only acknowledging native logics in this context." the is avoided. the contradiction "Azande do not perceive as we perceive it. or the domain that outside of the magical the Azande do
as apparent are removed inconsistencies if such a logic is applied.
represents reasoning well by standard. regarding premise re? witchcraft substance. but actually ap? to a specific set plying a specific formalism of beliefs. analogy. we would of someone who treated expect as indeterminate. been criti?
cized in forceful terms by Salmon (1978). or lack of interest. because they have no in the subject. However. if propositions the Thus. he repeats tion that the reaction of the natives when are pointed out to them the contradictions one of indifference. then so must be each of the conjuncts.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 329
of (a form of) Jennings' ver? of the premises is assigned the above sion of the argument the inconsis? truth-value "indeterminate. is Evans-Pritchard records that Thus. we shall have occasion to return to this quote). Cooper has confused "not directly testable" with "in principle untestable. who native Cooper has.
It is only in the? to all a the imputation ory that they extend witch's clansmen" Barnes (p. particularly is nicely encap? view Jennings' in the aphorism. where for the Philosophy to Barnes. has argued that plets responding of the argu? Azande regard the conclusion as false and reject one or more of the ment of the bounds within keeping premises. Thus. Salmon's that Zande argument logic can? not be Lukasiewicz's is correct but. 452). Salmon kind introduced by How then do they live with the inconsis? is the answer account. our intention in this work is to However. makes it absolutely response Jennings' clear that his camp is proceeding from an view of the nature of logic different entirely from that represented and Tri? by Salmon
would plett. forthcoming). does not imply indeterminacy. as Evans-Pritchard with the argument either deny premise they substance may. than expressing indif? ference towards the conclusion of the argu? it and remain ment. a different tack. does calculi. as L3 himself would Cooper point out.330 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
as true. as is well known. and claim that witchcraft in certain cases. retical implications to Evans-Pritchard: "In practice turning
. they concerning from. that they actu? ticular. by personal return to it below. which She approach. vorce of social reasoning from the personal is implausible. the statement then. 24). 284). paraconsistent with paraconsistent Bueno. inconsistency a collapse not produce into triviality. "The difficulty in
ued logic by applying a form of the reductio
one or other of the premises. A full evaluation obviously lead us well away from our central concern em? in this paper. when Thus. In par? they avoid seeing the inconsistency. Towards to his approach that it could be objected even if Azande not regard propositions do as testable. Evans-Pritchard revise their beliefs when presented Azande he simply records that with the argument. sulated being is not cannot brella" told as applied and use.
re? has been particular exchange in the pages of The British Journal prised Tri? of Science. is no contradiction when the stand? two-valued ards of ordinary logic are em? This
that it is raining and not raining it is a contradiction but that we both take and not take the um?
(p. it is worth phasizing the social the sharpness of the split between or psychological as? and personal ac? of logic. in their rejection of premises denced follows Such a di? the classical standard.
logic (Triplett 1988). Azande reject actively of classical within the framework two-val? contends that rather falls under the "charitable"
of kinsmen they regard only close paternal a known witch as witches. on the Barnes-Jennings pects seem to be count. That said. there is no evidence statements of the inconsistent ally regard as false. whereas "personal" reasoning.
1 or 2. tency? On Jennings' the fundamental arrived at by considering and the theo? between distinction practice of a set of beliefs. 1. The would implication is non-classical in Zande social thought that
form. as evi?
ployed" (p. and rejecting faced notes. be "cool" and inoperative. Following a broadly Wittgensteinian in adopting line on meaning to negation. or they 2 and claim that the deny premise is re? of witchcraft substance heritability to very close relatives of the pur? stricted ported "There Salmon witch. witchcraft still. the distinction be? tween "theoretical" and "practical" levels is a useful one to draw (as long as both are and we shall embraced reason). Nevertheless. Let us return to Coo? take that the end he notes per's paper. Indifference. According to Jen? Zande thought does not say that nings. Salmon also questions claim Cooper's are indifferent to inconsistency that Azande in her own attempt at a resolution. concludes. Again. One believe them and this is sufficient for incon
re? these is illustrative: reply one or other of the of rejection sponses?of rather individual reactions premises?are and thus instituted than socially responses of established features do not represent or logic. it rules out only one kind of non-classical logic and to choose available there are many others is that Zande logic is possibility French and (da Costa.
are principally in interested is the attitude here that is." grass and scientists in gen?
as partially be regarded true only. are The technical details fully specified. we have extended to cover so-called "natural" reason? proach in the area of statistical ing. rance of the most appropriate to ap? model in a given situation and Ross ply (Nisbett that 1980. or interpretation. a variety of posi? and although it embraces that scien? tions. resentation The key as Sperber notes. they notion "a ify the Tarskian model-theoretic s is true in some sentence /" interpretation 5. With factual
beliefs. and belief 'hold to be true'
as one's are to
theory of the atom?within of science. an important and fruitful "factual" and (Sperber Sperber distinction we
structure is then a model-theoretic partial structure whose the ele? relations between ments of the model. say. standard Bayesian methodol? and French ogy (da Costa 1993b). sense. but of igno? indicator. where people appear appraisal to reason according to a set of heuristic pro? cedures that deviate from quite markedly those of. who the notion introduced of a (1986) structure. 252). In adopted a work that deserves rather more attention What than makes between beliefs it has received hitherto. Follow? are an the line that statistical mistakes ing not of irrationality. the standard propositions. this ap? recently. What anthropologists. best the rendered by troublesome (which is is sense)" (p. The former are be? as true in the liefs in propositions regarded standard sense. Such most notably
of our account lies a model to knowledge and be? approach an approach has been developed
in the philosophy of science. appendices What is important for the present discus? sion is the introduction attitude concomitant should of partiality that scientific and the theories In
"representational" 1982). towards these partial structures. an excellent and Giere."
Slovic and Tversky 1982. this view are Suppes. per's response whether the sense of "belief" that is appro? for his priate here is one that is problematic "For not every use of 'believe' is approach. Such theories philosophy as partially be regarded true. empirical simplicity consid? etc. Beth.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 331
to arise at the doxastic level. it has at its core the notion are to be regarded as families tific theories of models. this allows for the accommoda particular. the indi? representing are not viduals in the domain concerned. Giere 1988). in the formal sense mentioned above (see also Kahnemann. as partially our true in garded. aVs work and in the to our own papers cited above. can be found tion to the programme in 1 of Suppe 1989). unlike representational there is awareness of a rep? beliefs. ?what Sperber philosophical such as "The of examples is green. This the thread we have been trying to in our work on inconsistency in sci? reasoning. In our own work Chapter we have tried to press the claim that such
1993a).) may still be useful and hence ered as partially true. Coo? sistency he questions is illuminating. or should be. introduc? Suppe. with
the in? as a heuristic consistency acting "signpost" to a consistent successor and (da Costa
develop entific and "natural"
Partial Structures representational At the heart
theoretic lief. is to get away from move. eral. of (The principal proponents van Fraassen.
more in is something and partial open-ended calls a "semi-propositional
. are interested more complex. whereas correspondence in what Sperber the latter are beliefs calls a "semi-propositional re? representation." we claim." mod? "partial Essentially.is partially or quasi to give "a sentence true in a partial 3 relative to interpretation some set P of 'established' A sentences. Cherniak 1984).
models should be taken to be open-ended and as providing of the only partial maps relevant domains. we have argued as less than those models that are regarded sense (in the standard completely adequate that includes success. The technical tools for set such a claim formally were developing down da Costa and Chuaqui by Mikenberg. given inMikenberg et. in particular and analysis.
But it must also be said that even to the Azande there is of about the action something peculiar witchcraft. argue or even fight about
interpretations. 'Our ancestors knew'. not only in what they say. wonder. Normally it can be perceived only in dreams. already noted or less ad hoc fashion." a person can have doxastic to that attitudes for want of a better word.332 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
character The semi-propositional beliefs is implicitly acknowledged
two ways. cerning the operation to higher authorities. Vaguely or falsified less easily verified by experi? into conflict ence. have in a more the reveals that they also sage satisfy are two aspects to this that second. one of the of Jennings' form of the argument premises two and thus satisfy the first of Sperber's char? in which the semi-propositional ways The above pas? acter can be acknowledged. of not being able to both example nings' carry and not carry an umbrella. 82). but how it kills them cannot be known precisely. 171). It is not an evident notion but transcends sensory experience. them inconsistent factual beliefs p. ond is the appeal the former. and less easily brought It is not clear how both with other beliefs. know that it exists and works evil. I have frequently been struck when discussing witchcraft with Azande by the doubt they express about their subject. a or
effect.They feel out of their depth in trying to describe the way in which witchcraft its ends. which
is a natural
is a problem. We that Azande reject. In other cases. be partially (complete) struc? (or quasi-propo are associated with
with standard associated tures so semi-propositional sitional) partial representations structures. 478). 175-176).. this is one of sev? Considering as to eral reasons given by Evans-Pritchard the contradic? do not perceive Azande why formulated beliefs are tion (p. They tell you that perhaps if you were to ask an older man or infor? witchdoctor he might give you more mation (p. Let us consider what Evans-Pritchard tells us: again The Zande notion of witchcraft is incompat? ible with our ways of thought. and. and other beliefs evidence impact on such of their vague. There is a certain incompleteness content that al? regard to their conceptual of slack in their connec? lows for a degree can be and which with other beliefs tions struc of a partial this notion by captured
true in that it is conceptu? (that is. when you
the people what their cultural beliefs mean.. imprecise na? beliefs because with ture. A is neither may semi-propositional representation true nor false in this sense. as Sperber puts it. There we would to.
is then no longer a prob? Inconsistency two mu? lem: "If one finds oneself holding to inconsistent ideas and reluctant tually give up one of in giving position a semi-propositional form" (Sperber." Philosophers locked into this view of belief
tend to be as a "propo
sitional which obscures the fact attitude. to be are representational beliefs How from those of distinguished contextually because factual form? Sperber offers the following: of cultural in one of
either. saying: 'It everyday ask
is the tradition'. of a particular
of any violation but logical principle. Holding consists classical of practical such as Jen? barriers." not propositions in the strict sense of that which is true or false in the correspondence sense. they beg off. but They in which it they have to guess at the manner works. but it
The application of all this to Zande witch? craft beliefs is transparent. That accomplishes it kills people is obvious. that are "objects.
lost or a secret to be discovered (or ismade both). what they imply. but even more in their manner of saying it. a clear if implicit distinction between holding a belief and knowing how to interpret it.. while sharing be? liefs. This distinction only makes be? sense if these are semi-propositional cret liefs (pp. They do not to understand witchcraft profess entirely.. In some cases people
geses of their beliefs. Indeed. The first like to draw attention and doubt con? of vagueness is the elements the sec? of witchcraft.
. it ally incomplete content contains elements whose conceptual are Just as propositions is not fully specified). how they fit with facts etc.
540). in very short beliefs we may be so pushed only with those that can be de? order. not profess to understand would electricity not in quantum field entirely (certainly theoretic terms). or by lethal magic. or belief set. Thus. may ciently inconsistent with one an? fundamentally is a well known "incom? other." between relativity theory and quantum me? brought 28 and at the foundational level. (p. and thus correspondingly weaker. of magic was permitted method and here arise: "It may be observed again problems here. as functions of specific situ? to paraphrase Evans-Pritchard ations. different situation. A similar strategy has been advocated in the case of self-deception. contradictory. this to Zande extend rect). 475. under British rule. where inconsis? and French (da Costa the "plasticity" of generally. see also p. Only then by cease the kinsmen their mourning. some is to be achieved?and unification nor pos? would say this is neither desirable sible?some form of reconciliation will have to be effected. Evans prince. there a rather to use coy term. peo? to resort to a pre-Newtonian tend ple the issue is not model (Giere 1988). the venge? and typically means is executed of lethal magic. That if it were known that the death of a man X had been avenged upon a witch Y then the whole be re? would procedure the death of duced to an absurdity because Y is also avenged upon a by his kinsmen Z" (Evans-Pritchard. analogy Different scientific suffi? theories. however. Driven by the as we are. the use of shown where that in situations this theory would be most appropriate. is crucial. but rather of employing or less than fully adequate an inappropriate cor? one that is only partially model (that is. in one using in a situation and another. If. by The attribution of witchcraft action to a cer? tain witch will be made by means of the poi? son oracle. at the formal level. Again. modeling in fact be different domains. Bohr's. the theory as divided into self by regarding been inconsistent tion. most would have to guess most at the manner in which it works. enough. to higher authori? the appeal Regarding in Zande the role of the princes culture ties. where are not fully specified.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 333
the ele? between the relations ture. Death due to the action of witch? can be so attributed) craft (and all deaths must ance be avenged. one of irrationality. only the estingly enough. internally can be dealt with in the same way. a lay person's of Consider understanding most for example. to It is then up to the prince as to how vengeance is to be ex? decide acted: by the physical killing of the witch. may is the important And?this point?the names of the victims of vengeance magic are kept secret by both the kinsmen and the this system. patibility. 27). They are therefore into opposition" (p. Again with scientific and "lay" beliefs. would express a degree of doubt about the example would subject and so on. chanics. witch p. It has also
and consistent sub-theories (see da Costa French 1993a for criticisms). ments is striking here is the analogy But what with "lay" beliefs and "natural" reasoning. there is a clear later. But con? is firmation of the efficacy of the magic achieved via the poison oracle of the kins? men of the witch's in turn is victim. It is only when we are to set the two together that the in? pushed With becomes factual consistency glaring. Regarding also arises
. p. and we would beliefs. breaks out into a full-blown inconsistency. which. lay people electricity. Inter? by compensation. Another It has been be Newtonian mechanics. in dif? As long as the two theories function is not this inconsistency ferent situations.. whereas scribed as representational the push may be towards a state of epistemic virtue only. of our circumstances pragmatics tency 1990a). seems plausible 540).. More our lay beliefs the most angelically rational can avoid a particular belief. that "contra? Evans-Pritchard also notes are not no? dictions between their beliefs the beliefs are not ticed by Azande because at the same time but function in all present not different situations. which confirmed the prince's oracle. and "fill? by modifying in ques? ing in" one or both of the structures noticeable that suggested such as theories.
334 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
Pritchard writes. 72). strictly soning may can? sense of not adhering to the accepted ons of such reasoning. But what be aware of the princes? Surely they must of the contradiction? And indeed the outcome of they are. He continues. 28). true with exhibited remain their stances regard in "natural to the statistical It is certainly fallacies Subjects nature of
reasoning. They would pretend to their neighbours that they were avenging their kinsman and
after cloth some months would as a hang sign that up the bark of mourning vengeance
places. nism common across cultures." of the fallacious
because "the relevant in? reasoning are not coded (Tver appropriately" 1974.
if the kinsmen of A avenge his Consequently death by magic on B and then learn that B's in sign of kinsmen have ceased mourning also. is some? strategy). find themselves in when engaging in every? day activities inconsistencies to not cause them beliefs. to face Time the and in their
family honour Azande
the broader aspects of
are not interested
vengeance in general. (Such and satisfactory form part of a satisfying.. garded. at this point Evans It is worth recalling Pritchard's ceive the remark: contradiction do not per? "Azande as we perceive it
. thing similar to be said about Zande models
accomplished. And is a causative factor in
again in his book. at particular to particular relation persons" (ibid. The sky and Kahnemann and are not instances remain particularized in such a way as to reveal combined just what is going on. rather may There than optimizing. are the names of victims of vengeance secret the contradiction is not apparent. as we noted in our other Nevertheless. our upon force The kinds of situations Azande emphasis). according suc? rules of thumb that are at least partially cessful models to that extent. since they know every death in their provinces: When I asked Prince Gangura how he ac? the death of a man both as the action cepted of vengeance-magic and of witchcraft he smiled and admitted that all was not well with the present-day system. They may be re? getting as heuristic to Cherniak. and in particular places. a prince were to tell the kin of a dead man and that he had died from vengeance-magic might not be avenged he would tell them in secret and they would keep his words a se? cret. 1130). are specific actions to particular its
empha? the way
in phenomena times. and thereby failing to be maximally but they never? successful. than 50-50 chance theless give a better of the right answer.
They saw the objection when I raised it but they were not incommoded by it (p. 27). it is this fundamen? ex? tal aspect of the problem that ultimately how the contradictions plains persist. are not wholly the models themselves work. and people: is a variable "Witchcraft factor in time as well as in space and gives value to particular times as it does peculiar times to particular places again. they vengeance having accomplished that this second vengeance believe is a pre? tence. by which contradiction out into the open are from breaking kept made clear in these passages. 25. the means is Again. It is this particularity that prevents the inconsis? a mecha? tency from becoming apparent. p. pp. and those situations
interest in which
do not they express their beliefs in witchcraft the problem them" (p. Contradiction is thereby avoided (ibid. to know people
for they would not wish that their kinsman was a
witch. Some princes said that they did not allow a man to be if they knew he had died from avenged but I think they were ly? vengeance-magic. cessful. for even if ing. So long therefore as they particular Since
are able to conform to custom and maintain
they have no theoretical subject. Those be employed in statistical rea? in the fallacious. "Witchcraft the production or persons" (p.). "Its fallaciousness is veiled so long as concerned si? everybody keeps lent about the victims of their vengeance magic" (p. 28-29). suc? but are at least partially inadequate. Again. One cannot know for certain. Evans-Pritchard sizes the particularity of witchcraft. kept for itwould only be evident if all deaths were taken into consideration and not any one death.
"Azande insist that magic must be proved efficacious it" (p. 444) and "The if they are to employ test of magic is experience" (p.. Indeed. it is when the "bits" are And. Carl Sagan.g. as Evans-Pritchard also makes clear:
1991). there are clear reason? with and scientific lay for an explanation Pressed of the action ing. questioned by Evans Pritchard magic. we Returning see how the second of Sperber's charac? of the holding teristic indicators of repre? It is they sentational beliefs is exemplified. Again the element of vague? ness enters. the reason there is the goes of success is that "Magic is only appearance events which are likely to to produce made in any case?e. Again. Also:
too much is claimed for magic. but the difference incomplete or between the lay person. as Evans-Pritchard reports that to the question.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 335
and magic. rain is produced happen in the rainy season and held up in the dry are likely to and bananas pumpkins is not do so.In real life they do not function as a whole but in bits" (p. the fallaciousness of the or the inconsistency of the be? reasoning.).
even though he does not use termite-medi? cines (ibid. A similar account to the action of electricity. of course. a lay person might of electricity. Likewise. however. is not apparent. gone epistemic representation (Hardwig 1985. a man will catch many termites. is that the princes typi? for a more consistent serves the current system
Our thesis. Even within there will typically be divisions of discipline solid it has been sug? technical expertise. representation what is going on. then. or at a complete. claimed that success will be greater by the use of magic than it would have been if no magic had been used. Azande "They do not think very much about the matter (p. between the cist. to appeal their college physics professor. 540). their purposes. and the statistician and likewise.g. of witchcraft here. Again. attempting ences or describing the notion of the nature or physi? of electricity.
to be drawn in Thus. ture for the reasons given liefs. the lay attitude to the role of the princes. model is one and the action of In all cases the ap? that is conceptually
(p. of the one re? that the model examples.
a particular state physics. It is not claimed that a man must the aid of magic without Not
fail?e. how do with respect think their magic works?. on the basis of these and similar gested. could be given of 463). The only and acknowledge difference. is that Western. rec? that Azande It is noteworthy. is different that the action of magic ognize from that of empirical and ac? practices that there is something mysteri? knowledge ous about it. no one has searcher. Magic flourish?they usually to occur" is unlikely asked to achieve what season. who are taken to possess least a more of complete. field theory
. 476).-. is that Zande witchcraft are best modeled struc? beliefs by partial tures that can accommodate their loose and aspect. Gener? in the use of productive magic it is only ally. As he on to point out. 466). propriate about witchcraft and the princes. cally do not search since successor. boldly going where no longer an adequate is before. Evans-Pritchard notes. above. Thus. "lay" Azande. whether Zande and the scientist or prince. towards this model Azande is one of doubt. respectively. in the former case. there is a distinction our account between the lay (Western) per? to draw statistical infer? son. there is only the appearance cess. are aware of the the princes nature of the Zande inconsistent system its deficiencies. of although of suc? course. in the latter Bohr was per? whereas na? fectly well aware of the contradictory of his model and worked of the atom and both succes? for a consistent
hoped sor. incomplete contends that such beliefs structures ible ideational Evans-Pritchard "are not indivis? but are loose as?
sociations of notions. or a physics at the level of textbook! Even similarities scientific beliefs someone be similar ap? within quantum working to an expert in might appeal there will
and partial. that the inconsistencies brought together The doxastic of become attitude apparent. perhaps.
As Sperber beliefs as these beliefs should be as
Charity Those who
Explicability the use of some
form of the Principle of Charity typically do
so in terms Salmon's to Context.Some? process to be taken for granted if the cir?
and meaning is to be broken steps towards understanding the form of the Principle taken. clearly are not. Our discussion the claim that the explicit contradic? rather than swallow In their but this is a localized tion. these beliefs appear irrational is reason enough to assume. to press above was intended not do justice to this would to con? the very context that we are urged with the argument sider. context doubt and the role of regarding to support our analysis. This is of an appeal to Cooper's response suggestion af? the no
and she. of charity?
. irrational parently to try and reformulate be acceptable might the content of these beliefs so as to establish their rationality. Clearly. The slogan. either theoretical or em?
of Charity originally by Davidson proposed as it immediately rules out is unacceptable.
(p. but only. which not only seems ciple of Explicability to do the trick but also meshes nicely with our distinction between representational and factual beliefs (Henderson 1987). "Differ? sting ent cultures live in different cognizable sense only if the relevant makes worlds. No when theo? as?
sumed to be factual. on the be? contrary. However. that involves of court any translation the of inconsistent beliefs attribution (unless are written such beliefs off as irrational). what little evi? the view that the dence there is supports are repre? we are dealing with beliefs
sentational and have a semi-propositional
content What. doxastic (The appropriate logic will then be a paraconsistent one. ter her. true. itmakes such considered. from relativism. 466). But himself they notes: in certain to be beliefs taken sense as true. But cognizable imagine different
there is no reason. are factual be? beliefs. if authority on translation. This rather representational.336 /AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICALQUARTERLY
To what extent have Azande faith inmagic? I have found that they always admit that the issue of a rite is uncertain. 175). vengeance magic is some principle is required What that. That is. even at the cost of having to worlds. thereby avoiding reason: look in the literature No empirical as to the exact attitude people for evidence have toward their 'beliefs'. the costs of relativism." beliefs are propositions only if the cultural as Zande witchcraft liefs. a doxastic of al? system provides capable for the accommodation of the incon lowing are not since such beliefs sistencies. first
If people of different cultures did hold ap? then it factual beliefs. would compel context but that would not the appropriate of incon? rule out attributions immediately Henderson has put forward a Prin? sistency. No one can be sure that his medicines will achieve the re? sults aimed at. argues that careful attention to context cultural that there reveals is to step outside need the bounds of standard derstand framework what of rationality is going on. Azande might reject one or more premises. fact that. Likewise. that they are representational liefs with a semi-propositional content. Thus regarded than factual. There is never the same de? as in routine empirical gree of confidence activities (p. we have appealed
the to un?
to the ing Sperber. us to consider like charity. like Triplett above. When presented the inconsistency that makes explicit.
irra? pirical. response. are simply the inconsistencies daily practice at the fac? to become manifest not allowed con? tual level. The further inconsistency of witchcraft and the results cerning drives this point home.
then. in the correspondence regarded as partially or quasi-true sense. for example. to assume that the apparently tional beliefs reported by anthropologists
and retical historians reason: are the factual very beliefs. piggybacks understanding to get then some such principle is required the whole thing has cle of belief and the off the ground.) removes the this approach Furthermore.
theoretical super-structure. At the refined explicability translate level the translator's of formal toolbox will include a frameworks.
notes. regarding Witchcraft
thought. As Suppes has long the empirical data are also struc? declared. representational is what matters. tions that charity piggy-backs. the latter provides the data for tablishment can head"
the former. Henderson to per? of the Zande failure explanation in their the contradictions inherent ceive beliefs and the futility of their witchcraft in general?namely the cultural limi? magic tations imposed on the sharing and flow of crucially on his first information?depends which translations provide approximation the basis for his identification of these be? translation. translation manual fined" the This process by fine-tuning proceeds manuals and is guided first-approximation which con? by a "Principle of Explicability.
Such beliefs will typi? liefs of the natives.
the bridgehead." It is during this stage that the Princi? both in practice is necessary. inclusive clear analogy here with structures of the model
of course. tion" manual adequate us? of "everyday the sentences translating age." to attribute strains the translator explicable. there is a the refined translation the empirical sub? theoretic approach to scientific theories. 238). in Jennings' indicated remark about carry? It is upon such considera? ing an umbrella. for is constructed. Belief inwitchcraft tent with human responsibility and a rational of nature. this level the appropriate logic would be classical. or "consistent. ple of Charity and it is here that the es? and in principle. 79). Conclusion then. then. which consist of checked by trial and error in each knowledge It is only if he fails in spite of generation. of observation and. In our terms. adherence to these rules that people will im? pute his lack of success to witchcraft (p. manuals. for a final time.. we agree with the intellec Clearly. cally be about matters noted concerning what we've recalling just the way the first-approximation feeds into as data. "natural") reasoning
. liefs at the level of the refined Henderson goes on to claim that an impor? en? tant role in this translatory/explanatory can be taken deavor by psychological he mentions the theory and in particular for in accounting work of Nisbett and Ross error in natural statistical reasoning. its own rules of
not exclude natural
is quite consis? causation. Refined translation
be highly non-classical. to Henderson.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 337
in Henderson's The decisive element ap? of the is a fine-grained analysis proach man? a translation of constructing process breaks it down into earlier and later ual that a "first-approxima? stages. or anthropologist be? scientist the social comes concerned native be with explaining first the and liefs "only by using can we translation manual approximation in terms of of the evidence acquire much endeavor which the ensuing explanatory translation de? Refined (ibid.these do
logic. say) but be? such as considerations. Returning. by Horton who claim that scientific and "native" (and are of the same kind. The logic of is classical. including variety those of paraconsistent doxastic logics. ation of that most famous of quotes we find: Zande logic. the concern is with expla? It is only at this stage that nation" (p. what the first-approxima? tion manual translates are the factual be
has its own
and. not because of some blind ad? to the law of non-contradiction herence (as At an absolute a priori cause of pragmatic principle. tualist line adopted and others. proceeds" first approximation translation pends upon as its basis. Evans-Pritchard's Thus. of the rationalist's "bridge? the It is against be located. of generally successful first-ap? background translation manuals that a "re? proximation is elaborated.). "when engaged According in this later task. and here beliefs. Thus the logic of representational belief may to "Witch? Oracles and Magic" and the continu? craft. tured and must themselves be modeled be? and if. First of all a man appreciation
must carry out an activity according to tradi?
rules of technique. In the former. it is to be embedded into a more fore." be? rather than "correct" liefs to the speakers of the source language.
N. and Addresses of the Scheme. R. Barnes." The Journal Cherniak. American Philosophical Association. vol. pp. pp. 177-90. 27. "TheModel-Theoretic Approach
Philosophy vol. R. (1991). pp. "The Myth of the Subjective. C. pp. (1989). pp. 21-47. Elsevier.
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29. that we agree with the symbolists who spect are adamant are not be? that native beliefs as true (in the liefs in propositions regarded sense). D. Knowledge Bloor. Explaining Science. pp. E. Press. Henderson. (1985). (1990a).'" Man (NS). 693-708. (1975). Where from Horton?and with regard Cooper?is to what should be taken as the correct model of science. A. University of Chicago Press. inM. 82. vol." da Costa. (1976). E. (1987).
da Costa. A. beliefs. D." inM. (1991). Cooper. Omniscience
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E. Methodology and Philosophy of Science VIII. (1967)." Synthese.
155-87. (1983). thus this work can also be seen as another of support for the piece witchcraft University University of S?o Paulo of Leeds
highlight them. University
Dame Press. 73. pp. 51-69. and the Universal Acceptance of Logic. MIT Press. D. vol. "Consistency. of Notre Davidson." Philosophical
Science. S. vol. M. "The Role of Trust inKnowledge. Hardwig. S. al (eds. "Relativism. (1990b). S. N. and French.
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and Chuaqui. Human Inference: Strategies and Shortcomings. "Border Crossings: Narrative Strategies in Science Studies and among Physicists in Tsukaba Science City." toTruth. Traweek. H. Lukes. for many useful and illuminating comments. Blackwell. pp. thus. pp. of Manchester and at the Senior Seminar of the Dept. T. 185. H. 2. M. 1982. S. R. Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. 201-21. 51.). "Azande Logic versus Western Logic?. 70. Prentice-Hall. 444-54. (1974)." Science. Lukes. Tversky. (1982)." I. F. 1124-1131. of course. University at both meetings. and Kahnemann. D.). and Tversky.THE LOGIC OF AZANDE / 339
Kahnemann. Wilson (ed. "The Hobgoblin.. (1982). eds. pp. Kyburg. The Semantic Conception of Theories and Scientific Realism. da Costa. 361-66.T." inM. A. 13. R. Japan. R. vol. in a sense.An earlier version of this paper was presented Society. pp. "Apparently Irrational Beliefs. A. Hollis and S. D." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Suppe. pp. (eds." in B. Journal of Symbolic Logic. pp..
. (1986). Triplett. L. of Leeds. "Do Azande Logic?." Man (NS). Slovic.). (1970). "Pragmatic Truth and Approximation Mikenberg. (1989). The Monist. Rationality and
Relativism. vol. M. "Some Problems About Rationality." in A. The cultural presuppositions underlying this account have been noted (Traweek 1992.I. "Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. and Ross. 141-51. pp..
to ameeting of The Alexander 1. D. University of Chicago Press. University of Illinois Press. of Philosophy at the of Philosophy. Patrick Suppes has long pressed the claim that scientific data are never presented "raw" but as structured in one form or another. P. 435-37). The authors would like to thank the participants but espe? University and postgraduate?in and Chris Kenny in Manchester undergraduate cially the students?both for any further deficiencies Leeds. (1992). (1978). what we are presenting here is an analysis not of Zande beliefs per se but of such beliefs as structured by Evans-Pritchard. Likewise this particular cultural datum is structured in always terms of Evans-Pritchard's account. (1988). The authors would also like to thank Otavio Buero for his comments on an earlier version of this paper. Science as Practice and Culture. 39. vol. Nisbett. Sperber. Cambridge University Press. (1987). vol. Rationality. S. A. pp. Pickering (ed. N. 149-80. Press. and Nuer Use a Non-Standard Salmon. vol. 429-65. The responsibility is. (1980). entirely ours. in the Dept. C.