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

Bruce Aune aune at philos.umass.edu
Wed Mar 18 15:58:06 EDT 2009

Danny, I supplied the example without the commentary it deserves.  I  
didn't want to mention rigid designators because doing so creates  
useless arguments which are old hat by now.  (They were debated ad  
nauseam in the 70's.)  If we take "the inventor of bifocals" to pick  
out a certain man, whom we assert to be Benjamin Franklin, then there  
is no world in which that man is not Franklin.  Of course, if we use  
the definite description to refer to whatever satisfies that  
description in a possible world, then we are in effect referring to  
different men in different worlds and falsely identifying those men  
with Franklin.  But I wasn't using the description in this referent- 
shifting way.

	It is, however, a contingent fact that the man we pick out with the  
definite description is Benjamin Franklin. We can't expect to know the  
identity of that man a priori.
	I was identifying analytically true with truth by virtue of meaning  
just because others were using "analytically true" that way.  My  
considered views are worked out at length in my chapters 2 and 3 of my  
book on hist-analytic.

	I wouldn't day that "I think" or "I exist" are things I know a  
priori.  I know the first only by virtue of thinking, something I have  
to attend to; and I know the second only because I have experience of  
myself as a temporal object.

	But thanks for the comments just the same.


On Mar 18, 2009, at 3:21 PM, Danny Frederick wrote:

> Hi Bruce,
> Just a few points.
> You picked a bad example to illustrate a proposition which is  
> necessary if true, viz., ‘The inventor of bifocals = Benjamin  
> Franklin.’ That is actually a contingent truth (if it is true)  
> because ‘the inventor of bifocals’ is not a rigid designator.  
> ‘Cicero = Tully’ would have been better.
> Some people have seen Kripke’s arguments as supporting a ‘Millian’  
> view of the meaning of names, that is, that the meaning of a name is  
> the object it refers to, or, at least, that if two names refer to  
> the same object, they have the same meaning. If so, then a true a  
> posteriori identity statement would be true in virtue of the  
> meanings of its terms. It would thus be both a posteriori and true- 
> in-virtue-of-meaning. This would divorce analyticity from a  
> priority; in fact it would divorce it from analysis, if we  
> maintained the connection between analyticity and truth in virtue of  
> meaning. Perhaps a better way of proceeding would be to distinguish  
> analyticity from truth in virtue of meaning.
> Why isn’t ‘I think’ a synthetic a priori truth? And thus also ‘I  
> am.’ Both are contingent and thus not true in virtue of meaning; and  
> I don’t think anyone has held them to be analytic. But both can be  
> known a priori if anything can. Are any of the axioms of logic more  
> self-evident to anyone than the proposition expressed by ‘I think’?  
> I would be surprised if anyone thought so.
> Cheers.
> Danny

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