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

Steven Bayne srbayne at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 8 10:57:20 EDT 2009

How important is the issue of analyticity? Necessity has
a richer philosophical tradition, extending backwards
beyond Kant who formulated the first definition of
'analytic'. Intuitively, the issue may be thought of as
involving two sorts of "necessary" truth: truth grounded
in form (such as being a substitution instance of a
formal truth of logic), and truth based on meanings
(as an extension of merely formal truths.

I suspect that meanings do not exist; I suspect there
is no convincing argument that outside the realm of
stipulation, which involves choice, there are no alternative
possible worlds. Moreover, I believe these intuitions are
part of the "hard core" of common sense. I would, simply,
disagree with those who maintain that 'common sense' is
as removed from immediate understanding as 'analyticity'.
So we might ask: Are there purely formal truths? And mean,
"Are there truths based on FORM alone?" If it makes sense
to say there are, then I don't think it makes sense to say
that the facts ground analytic truths. The truths of propositional
calculus are not factual truths, but now we have 'fact' to
contend with. On the usual accounts there is an extended
sense of 'analytic' meaning something like truths grounded
in meanings. But like possible worlds, meanings are
suspect. What is not suspect is the notion of a representation
which is at the core of the meaning of ''meaning' when we
are talking about the meaning of, say, descriptive terms of
a canonical or "logical language." Defining 'necessity' in
terms of analytic, in a sense, violated the principle that
defininiens should be at least as perspicuous and non
arbitrary as the defniendum. So I'm not sure about your
proposal, although I keep an open mind.

As for colors, just a quick point: we can think of 'red' as
either referring to a monadic property, or we can think of
it as relative to the position of the observer. In the latter
case 'red' refers to a triadic property. If you assume that
no two things can occupy the same place, and regard
this as a priori, i.e., universal and knowable independent
of experience (on the basis of the properties of space and
bodies in them,  generally), then you will have a necessary
truth that agreement on the existence of a color is
contingent; that is, that from one point of view the color of
x is such and such, but from another it is some other
color, without contradiction. Two colors existing at the
same place FROM different places would be the issue.
I make no claim as to how to resolve this.

So, there are no meanings, although a sentence can
be meaningful; there are no formal facts, thus there are
no analytic sentences in the unextended sense, and
because there are no meanings in some sense there
are no analytic sentences in the broad sense. This is
not inconsistent with Quine; but there is one problem
with the view I've espoused, at least. It is this: what is
the factual basis of reference, if there is no such thing
as meaning. My answer is, tentatively, this: there are
meanings only where there are minds. Meanings are not
entities; they are  not *in* minds, but neither are they
in space etc. Minds are fundamental; worlds are
constructs; intentionality is fundamental; meaning is
a construction. That is an oversimplification. I'm out of the
loop on this one. Your suggestions are provocative
and interesting; not to be dismissed so easily given the
stagnation that followed a model theoretic treatment of
semantics and with it the classical ontologies.


At 04:52 PM 2/28/2009, Roger Bishop Jones wrote:
>On Wednesday 25 February 2009 18:46:45 Bruce Aune wrote:
> > 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:
>The principle issue at stake is whether or not analyticity and
>necessity co-extensional concepts.
>I don't believe that the Logical Positivists argued the case
>for this, it was just obvious.
>If you think the relationship is obvious then to suggest,
>as my definition does, that analyticity is the one to use
>for sentences, and necessity for propositions is reasonable,
>and my definition is then reasonable.
>This is not so good in a context in which most people think
>that they are obviously not the same.
>It is still a tenable position, provided that this definition
>is offered in the context of some argument to the effect
>that the identity holds when some less question begging
>definition is used, such as "true in virtue of meaning".
>It is the case that I believe my definition is consistent
>with the view that "analytic" means "true in virtue of meaning".
>This is because I believe that:
>    true in virtue of meaning
>means the same as:
>    expresses a proposition which is true in every possible world
>This seems to me sufficiently obvious that to find a convincing
>demonstration is hard.
>It was this which motivate me to come up with the mathematical
>model which I referred to earlier.
>In that exercise I provided a lightweight model of the semantics
>of descriptive languages, and then defined necessity using that
>However, when I came to define analyticity, the result was too
>obviously the same concept that no proof was necessary.
>The only relevant part of the meaning of a sentence for
>determination of either analyticity or necessity is the
>truth conditions.
>We know that a statement is analytic when those conditions
>tell us that the under all conditions the sentence is true.
>But for a language which talks about the world (as opposed
>to some abstract domain for example) then the "conditions"
>in question are "possible worlds" and being true under
>all conditions just means being true in all possible worlds.
>I can see, that this "obvious fact" will have to consume
>a much larger space than this in my monograph, for though
>once obvious to many, it is now obvious to few.
>If for a second we assume that this argument is good
>and that analyticity is the same as necessity, there
>still remains a problem in identifying the fallacy in
>Kripke's argument to the contrary.
>I am no scholar of Kripke, so my suggestion on this score
>must be tentative.
> From my recollection, Kripke, perhaps thinking it obvious,
>does not really offer an argument in favour of the denial.
>He openly assumes the existence of rigid designators,
>which are defined as phrases which designate the same thing
>in every possible world, and observed that an
>identity between rigid designators must be necessary.
>Then somehow we get the denial that these identities
>are analytic, and I don't recall exactly how we get this.
>Is this part of the definition of a rigid designator,
>or is it a second assumption, or just a bald uncorroborated
>claim, or something he offers an argument for??
>If my argument above is sound, and the non-analyticity
>is somehow incorporated into the definition of rigid
>designator, then the definition is incoherent and fails
>to define anything.
>If it is a second assumption, then Kripke is making
>contradictory assumptions.
>If it is a bald assertion then Kripke's argument is
>Does he offer an argument?
>A counter argument is that if an identity of any
>kind is necessary, then it is true in every possible
>world and this information is part of the truth
>conditions and hence part of the meaning of the
>language and the identity will also be analytic.
>It looks to me like Kripke is begging the question.
>My remaining comments therefore largely point out
>the obvious consquences of my position above for
>your points.
> > 1.     1)  As Kripke pointed out, ...
>I think this is now covered.
> > 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.
>The "serious work" is as above, perhaps expanded somewhat.
>It seems to me that propositions like the one you mention
>are problematic because of doubt about what they mean,
>not because of doubt about the concepts of analyticity
>or necessity.
>I would say that the proposition you quote is false
>since something determinately blue on some region might
>also be azure there.
>We probably don't understand the sentence in the same way!
> > 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.
>This is nugatory in the context of a convincing demonstration
>that the concepts are coextensive.
> > 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.
>I don't think my proposal makes any difference in this area,
>though this is something I intend to say something about in
>the final section of my proposed monograph.
>Can you poke some holes in my arguments above, or fill in
>the hole in my memory of Kripke's argument?
>Roger Jones

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