Carnap v. Kripke on the Triple-Dichotomy
An analysis of the differences between Carnap and Kripke on the relationship between the analytic/synthetic, necessary/contingent and a priori/a posteriori distinctions.
A sketch of the problem and of some relevant philosophy prior to Carnap.
Introduction and Background
A sketch of the problem and of some relevant philosophy prior to Carnap.
The Triple-Dichotomy

The three dichotomies in question are:

  • A priori/A posteriori
  • Necessary/Contingent
  • Analytic/Synthetic

Carnap's position is that they coincide and that the coincidence, at least for that between analytic and necessity, is itself analytic and necessary. In the decisive refutation of logical positivism which was held to have been completed by Kripke possibly the following three elements are the most significant:

  • The failure of phenomenalistic reduction
  • Problems with the verification principle
  • Quine's attack on the analytic/synthetic dichotomy
  • The claim by Kripke that none of the dichotomies coincide

As far as the philosophy of Carnap is concerned, the first two were less significant than the second pair, since his philosophy had moved on and was in large part independent of these problems. The critiques of Quine and Kripke were more fundamental, and their central theses were never conceded by Carnap. Of these, Quine's position rests on so radical a scepticism about semantics as to wholly undermine the notion of deductive reasoning. Kripke's philosophy was no less incompatible with these views of Quine than was Carnap's.

We are concerned here exclusively with Kripke's position and in showing that at best it represents an alternative usage for the concepts in question rather than a refutation of Carnap. If read as a refutation of Carnap the arguments are fallacious.

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