[hist-analytic] Frrom AUNE: Analytic and A Priori

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 18 07:12:36 EDT 2009


Here are some remarks on Steve's latest.  He said, "When Tarski wrote his famous paper on truth, I can't recall rules of designation."  To deal with sentences containing quantifiers, Tarski introduced satisfaction as a basic semantical relation.  Avoiding certain technicalities, we can say that a sequence <a,b> satisfies a formula 'Fxy' just in case Fab.  Tarski also used assignment functions without calling them rules of designation.  By means of such assignments, an object (e.g. a person) may be assigned to a proper name.

If we set aside the kinds of sentences Kripke used to show that some sentences true by virtue of meaning are contingent (e.g. "The standard meter is a meter long") and some sentences not true by virtue of meaning are necessary if they are true (e.g.  "The inventor of bifocals = Benjamin Franklin") we can reasonably say, I believe, that all sentences true by virtue of meaning are necessary and vice-versa (or, if you like, they "express" necessary propositions).  But as I said several times in response to Roger, a useful notion of analyticity should provide an a priori means of deciding on the truth-value of sentences, and this is something a mere appeal to necessity cannot do.  Is "Bachelors are unmarried" or "Later than is an asymmetrical relation" is a necessary truth (or does it express one)?  Is either statement analytic?  How can we tell?

Steve has several times expressed an interest in, if not a possible fondness for, supposed synthetic a priori truths.  From my point of view, the epistemolgoical problem with such alleged truths is that I have no idea how we could possibly know they are true if they are true.  Epistemological rationalist have offed many suggestions for this over the years, but none seems cogent to me.

Bruce
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