(1) the “analytic” versus “synthetic” distinctionWith regard to analyticity, it is also possible to distinguish three types of analytic sentence, as follows:
This is a distinction involving the semantic form of propositions. A sentence is analytic if and only if it is true solely by virtue of the meanings of terms used (Elugardo 1997: 13). Every sentence that is not analytic is synthetic;
(2) the notion of “necessity” versus “contingency”
This relates to the nature of truth and can be understood in (i) a metaphysical/ontological sense or (ii) a conceptual/verbal sense (or de dicto). A logically necessary truth in sense (ii) is not metaphysically necessary, but true only by virtue of the definitions of terms used;
(3) the a priori versus a posteriori distinction
This involves how a proposition is epistemologically known to be true or false. An a priori truth is known without appeal to experience, and an a posteriori truth is known by appeal to experience or empirical evidence.
(1) an explicit analyticity, such as “Bachelors are bachelors.” These can also be called “identity propositions” or “truths of logic”;Types (1) and (2) describe what is called “Frege analyticity” (Boghossian 1997) in the following senses:
(2) an implicit analyticity, where the sentence is true by definition, e.g., “Bachelors are male.” Here we have a predicative proposition in which the predicate asserts something of a subject already containing that idea implicitly; and
(3) another type of analyticity where propositions are true in virtue of the meanings of the words used, but not true by definition: “Nothing is both red and green all over” or “whatever is coloured is extended.”
“A sentence is analytic if and only if either (i) it is a logical truth, or (ii) it can be converted into a logical truth by substitution of synonymous expressions, salve veritate, and formally valid inferences.” (Elugardo 1997: 15).All “Frege analytic” truths are known a priori.
But type (3) above describes a kind of analyticity that is wider in sense than (1) or (2), and the epistemological status of (3) was once held to be synthetic a priori (Elugardo 1997: 15). Today many would say it is analytic a priori, but a type that Boghossian (2008: 203) calls “Carnap analyticity” (after the logical positivist Rudolf Carnap).
In 1951, Quine (1951) attacked the analytic–synthetic distinction. Elugardo (1997: 15) argues that Quine admitted the existence of “Frege analytic” truths in sense (1), but thought that even these logical truths are open to revision. But Quine also argued that Frege analyticity in sense (2) is untenable. Quine’s rejection of this type of analytic statement is derived from his unwillingness to accept any definition of “synonymy” that is circular (in that it relies in turn on the concept of “analyticity” for its definition), and because of his verbal behaviourism.
But Quine’s attack on Frege analyticity is controversial. Many modern analytic philosophers think Quine did not succeed in his arguments, and that analyticity does indeed exist (Grice and Strawson 1956; Putnam 1962 and 1975; Quinton 1967; Glock 1996 and 2003; Nimtz 2003). Nor it is surprising that modern Rationalists support the existence of Frege analyticity (Katz 1967; Chomsky 1988).
Quine also argued against the logical positivist view that verification of a single synthetic proposition is possible by empirical evidence and without the need for verifying other sentences. For Quine, every synthetic proposition relies on and presupposes a number of other sentences, a view which lead to Quine’s confirmation holism and the Quine-Duhem thesis.
Thus knowledge is an interconnected “web of belief,” and those beliefs at the core are only the most difficult to give up, while those at the periphery are easy to give up. Nevertheless, all beliefs are capable in principle of being given up and none immune to revision (Elugardo 1997: 14). Philosophers have continued to debate this view too.
Such were the main controversies in analytic philosophy on epistemology until the 1970s. Until the 1970s, most analytic philosophers thought that all necessary truths are a priori and all contingent truths are a posteriori. Then Saul Kripke argued that the three concepts above are distinct, and that there are actually “necessary a posteriori” truths, such as, for example, the statement that “water is truly H2O.”
Kripke introduced a revolution in analytic metaphysics and epistemology, and he also argued that scientifically true identities are necessary a posteriori truths (Elugardo 1997: 12).
Kripke also contended that there is such a thing as “contingent a priori” truth, but the existence of this type of truth is still disputed.
“The Return of Metaphysics into Analytic Philosophy,” August 29, 2013.
“Epistemology and Kinds of Knowledge,” July 25, 2013.
“Schwartz’s A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: from Russell to Rawls: Chapter 3,” August 25, 2013.
“Quine and the Analytic–Synthetic Distinction,” August 24, 2013.
“Schwartz’s A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: from Russell to Rawls: Chapter 2,” August 23, 2013.
“Schwartz’s A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: From Russell to Rawls: Chapter 1,” August 22, 2013.
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