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

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Wed Mar 18 15:28:35 EDT 2009

On Wednesday 18 March 2009 00:59:43 steve bayne wrote:

>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.

Surely that's not the case.
Is Kant's definition of "analytic" specific to some
language? Is Frege's? Is Ayer's?
We know Carnap, at least in his syntactic phase
advocated defining "Analyticity-in-L", but I
consider that to have been a grave mistake which
has lead to many problems (and invited "Two Dogmas"). 

In the passage you cite Quine is complaining that
by defining analytic in L_0 for various languages:

> 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".

And he evidently (and in this I agree with him)
is calling for the general notion to be explained.
(though he finds it easier to criticism his own
generic accounts of language specific definitions)

This is what the phrase:

   "true in virtue of meaning"

does, and it is also what I do in my mathematical model.
It is also what I do in the definition which
I proposed to use in my monograph.

>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.

A general account of analyticity of the kind
which Quine speaks of does not presume that
all analytic sentences are expressible in a single
The definition of analyticity is much much less
problematic than the definition of the semantics
of a language.can be, which is why a clear
distinction should be drawn between defining
the concept of analyticity and defining the
semantics of a language, and why a specific
definition of analyticity for some language
is nugatory.

>Up to this point, we don't appear to disagree.

If the "we" you speak of is you and I, I am
startled to see you write this.

The two principle points you have discussed
so far are:

1.  Whether analyticity should be defined
    generically or separately for each language.

2   Whether analyticity is or is not the same
    as necessity.

To which my answers are "generically" and "yes",
and if I have understood you correctly yours
are "separately" and "no".

I hope I have misunderstood you.


More information about the hist-analytic mailing list