[hist-analytic] Quine, Aune, Jones: on defining analyticity

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 17 20:59:43 EDT 2009


Roger,


In his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" Quine notes a difference

between 'definitions' of analyticity as follows:


"By saying what statements are analytic for L_0

  we explain 'analytic-for-L_0' but not 'analytic'

  or 'analytic for'.  We do not begin to explain

  the idiom 'S is analytic for L' with variable

  'S' and 'L' even if we restrict the range of 'L'

  to the realm of artificial languages".


There is a huge difference in the size of these two

kinds of 'definition', particularly for natural

languages.


All the action is 'analytic-for L_0'. The reasons
one might give vary; some depending on what approach
you take to philosophical problems more generally.
'Analytic' as a semantical notion, like 'true', is
understandably restricted to a particular language.
If you don't do this, you invite paradoxes etc, and
probably abandoned that way of doing philosophy where
the objective is to construct languages based on what,
in fact, turn out to be one's philosophical positions.
Not just "languages" but a language that captures
all "analytic" sentences in the way that isn't much
different from capturing all and only sentences that
are 'grammatical' in a single generative theory of 
syntax. There are parallels.

This requires that L_0 be strong enough to do the
job. One big problem is knowing what all you want 
to include. What is one's objective? Some say it is
this: to construct a language which will include
all sentences that can be derived from the "rules
of language," that is, syntactical and semantical
rules. For example, if you feel that the language
(Let me use L', L'', etc. for the hierarchy, that
the language cannot have the property of 
extensionality, then you construct a language which
does not include it, but does include some feature
that allows for sentences expressing intentionality,
say, or less controversially 'intensions'. The crux
of the philosophical matter is *whether* all 
necessary truths are analytic. Are some synthetic.
I think so. This intuition, right or wrong, was
what was at the root of my remarks on what I'll
call the "autonomy" of the metalanguage. Ask yourself
the following question, and then give a reason for
your answer. Here's the question:

'p v ~p' analytic?

Typically, people like Quine begin with the assumption
that it is because they begin with the idea that
analytic truths include tautologies and then they
build outward, trying to capture all other "necessary"
truths. If you can obviate having to admit that all
necessary truths are analytic, then you can argue
that some are not analytic. Recall that necessity is
one criterion of being a priori; once you introduce
non analytic necessities you are close to accepting
synthetic a priori sentences. But, again, a priori
pertains to knowledge; necessity (and universality)
are criteria, not definiens. Still if you are a
Kantian this makes things far more interesting than
trying to do philosophy only by talking about some
language powerful enough to accommodate all you want
to include as analytic (and damn the rest).

Up to this point, we don't appear to disagree.
But I'm not sure of all you intend by some of your
comments.

I seen Aune has sent something in. I'll post it 
tomorrow and reply shortly.

Regards

Steve




________________________________
From: Roger Bishop Jones <rbj at rbjones.com>
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 11:36:55 AM
Subject: Quine, Aune, Jones: on defining analyticity

This is a preliminary to a response to Aune's recent
critique of my proposed definition of analyticty.

Aune observes that my arguments are too short,
(faint condemnation indeed) and contrasts them
with the lengthy discussion in Chapter 3 of
his Empiricist Theory of Knowledge.

It is my purpose here to point out how different our
enterprises are, and to attribute at least part of the
difference in size to a difference in topic.

In his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" Quine notes a difference
between 'definitions' of analyticity as follows:

"By saying what statements are analytic for L_0
  we explain 'analytic-for-L_0' but not 'analytic'
  or 'analytic for'.  We do not begin to explain
  the idiom 'S is analytic for L' with variable
  'S' and 'L' even if we restrict the range of 'L'
  to the realm of artificial languages".

There is a huge difference in the size of these two
kinds of 'definition', particularly for natural
languages.

What Quine is also aware of, is that given a
general definition of analyticity in terms of
meaning or semantics, specific definitions are
not necessary or desirable. One needs for specific
languages, in order to establish the analyticity
of particular sentences, sufficient information
about the semantics of the language in question,
but no further information about
the concept of analyticity.

To reason generally about analyticity a definition
of the concept of analyticity is required, not a
definition which purports to determine the extension
of that concept in relation to some particular language,
Since the former is likely to be short, and the
latter likely to be long, it is to be expected that
arguments in the first case may be concise, but
general arguments in the second case will be difficult.

My own reasoning is confined to generic definitions
of analyticity.  I advocate that there be no other
'definitions' of analyticity, but that definitions
of the semantics of languages are often desirable
(and are normal for formal logical systems).
Particular facts about analyticity are readily
derivable from such definitions (once accepted).

Roger Jones
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