Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Semantic and Metasemantic Notions of Analyticity

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Semantic and Metasemantic Notions of Analyticity

Article excerpt


In this article the evolution of main conceptions of analyticity is analyzed. Kant's criteria for analytic/synthetic distinction are discussed. Frege and Carnap notions of analyticity are set out. It is shown that Frege and Carnap shifted the criteria of analyticity to the justificatory status of judgments. The notion of truth in virtue of meaning and its criticism is exposed. Critical arguments against analyticity by W. V O. Quine are discussed. Williamson's arguments against traditional notions of analyticity are formulated. Williamson maintains that analytic truths are reduced to truths of other base classes-necessary, semantic or logical. It is shown that the stipulative definition of analyticity is vulnerable to Williamson's argument. Russell's conception of truth in virtue of reference determiner is exposed and evaluated. It is defended that the notion of truth in virtue of reference determiner is immune to many standard objections against analyticity.

Keywords: analyticity, meaning, stipulation, reference

1. Introduction

Analyticity is one the most controversial concepts in the history of analytic philosophy. It became the center of the debate in the middle of XXth century. Despite the defense of analyticity from such prominent philosophers as Grice, Strawson and Putnam, for a long time after Quine's "Two dogmas" it was considered at best useless. In the last few years, however, there was a resurgence of interest in analyticity. We will concentrate on three different sources: the critical account of analyticity by a prominent British philosopher T. Williamson (2008) and two proponents of analyticity-G. Russell (2008), and C. Juhls and E. Loomis (2010). The purpose of the article is to trace the key steps of development of the notion of analyticity from Kant to our time and determine whether this development was in effect successful. In case of analyticity it is especially important to expose the history of the notion, because different philosophers had different conceptions of analyticity. So when someone uses the word "analyticity" it is not always clear what particular conception of analyticity is implied. As we will show, historically, the notion of analyticity is a semantic notion. Semantic notions have something to do with meaning and reference. And we will see that the history of analyticity was a gradual evolution from accent on meaning to accent on reference (reference determiner). We will examine some of the objections against analyticity and will see how different theories of analyticity deal with these objections. The notion of analyticity as tmth in virtue of meaning met with some powerful objections in the XXth century. The main objection raised by Boghossian (and later Williamson) was that no tmth is true only in virtue of meaning. We will examine two main strategies which were proposed to counter this objection. One strategy is metasemantic which consists in defining analyticity in terms of stipulation (Juhl and Loomis). The other strategy we will call the semantic strategy which consists in redefining the concept of meaning within the framework of extensional semantics to include the referent and reference determiner (Russell). Ultimately, we want to determine which theory of analyticity is the least vulnerable to the main objections.

2. Main Part

The notion of analyticity became the object for discussions in philosophy ever since it was introduced by Kant. Kant famously offered 4 criteria of analytic judgments (see Proops, 2005; Hanna, 2007). First, that the predicate of the sentence must be covertly contained in the subject. Second, that the subject and predicate of the sentence must be identical. Third, that it is contradictory to negate the predicate. Fourth, that analytic judgments clarify; they do not expand our knowledge. The examples offered by Kant are: "all bodies are extended in space" and "gold is yellow metal". It is worthy of note that Kant's criteria for analyticity are not consistent with each other. …

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