[hist-analytic] RBJ's Proposal and and Hume's Fork

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 25 15:59:08 EST 2009

Is "'a' is a rigid designator" determined by fact or stipulation? Is it "analytic" if true? These are two question, not one. How can we, except by stipulation, confer rigid designation status? If it is an empirical claim that 'Cicero' is a rigid designator, then what is the evidence? If it is not an empirical claim, then how are some necessary truths supported by empirical data? Oh sure, that Cicero is Tully is not a priori; or so it seems. But the only empirical evidence I have is that in this world Cicero is Tully. We have to make some unempirical assumptions about essences, I think, in order to congratulate Kripke on discovering empirically supported necessary statements. I think we are close to being in a circle. We have rigid designation if only if we have essentialism. That is a first impression. This, of course, ties in with David Lewis' program, but we need not go there, just yet.



--- On Wed, 2/25/09, Bruce Aune <aune at philos.umass.edu> wrote:
From: Bruce Aune <aune at philos.umass.edu>
Subject: RBJ's Proposal and  and Hume's Fork
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 1:46 PM

Hume’s Fork.”  RBJ’s description of his approach to the distinction seems very unpromising to me, and I’d like to say why.RBJ proposed that a sentence appropriately disambiguated should be said to be analytic iff it expresses a necessary proposition, the latter being a proposition that is true is every possible world.  I think this is unpromising for the following reasons:1.     1)  As Kripke pointed out, some propositions true in all possible worlds can be known to be true only by an inference from an empirically supported premise.  The prop expressed by “Cicero = Tully” is a familiar example.  Assuming that the names here are understood as rigid designators, we may say that the relevant proposition is necessary if it is true--and therefore necessary, bercause it is true-- but it is certainly not analytic.  Many necessary truths are therefor not analytic in a plausible sense of "analytic."2.   2)  Many propositions claimed to be
 synthetic a priori truths by epistemological rationalists are generally acknowledged to be necessary, but anyone who thinks they are really analytic would generally be taken to have serious work to do.  One such proposition is expressed by “Nothing determinately blue on some region also has some other color there.”  I argue in my recent book that this should be considered analytic, but there is nothing trivial about the case I make for this claim.  I am convinced that I am right, but most rationalists would not share my conviction.3.    3)   Useful conceptions of analytic truth purport to explain why analytic truths that are necessary have this further property.  The statements (or “judgment”) covered by Kant’s conception give some indication of this.  If a predicate concept is contained in a subject concept in an affirmative way, anything in any world falling under the subject concept would be guaranteed to fall under the predicate
 concept because the latter is just one of the concepts it falls under if the subject is applicable to it.  This is why the statement is true in (or at) any possible world.4.   4)  Hume’s epistemic fork was the doctrine that all truths concern either mere relations of ideas or matters of fact and existence.  The former are considered analytic by empiricists: their truth can be ascertained by “mere analysis” and does not, as Hume said, depend on anything that is anywhere existent in the universe (except the relevant ideas).  Matters of fact and existence are, empiricists emphasize, synthetic truths that can be known only by observation, memory, and “experimental” inference.  A conception of analytic truth can be considered plausible only if makes clear the kind of analysis that can plausibly show that a given analytic statement is indeed true and, if necessary as well, why it has this additional property.  I cannot see that the
 conception RBJ intends to develop has this plausibility.Bruce Aune  
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