Analyticity and nondescriptionality[*] michigan state university abbottb@msu.Edu

One of the widely accepted and quite influential conclusions of modern Anglo-American philosophy is that there is no sharp distinction between analytic truths and statements that are true only [by] virtue of the facts; what had been called analytic truths in earlier work, it is alleged, are simply expressions of deeply held belief. This conclusion seems quite erroneous. There is no fact about the world that I could discover that would convince me that you persuaded John to go to college even though he never intended or decided to go to college; nor is there any fact of experience even relevant to the judgment that you failed to persuade him if he never intended or decided to go to college. The relation between persuade] and intend] or decide][1] is one of conceptual structure, independent of experience--though experience is necessary to determine which labels a particular language uses for the concepts that enter into such relations. The philosophical debate over these matters has been misleading because it has focused on very simple examples, examples involving words that lack the relational structure of such terms as chase and persuade. Thus there is much debate over whether the statement "cats are animals" is a truth of meaning or of fact (if we discovered that what we call cats are really robots controlled by Martians, would the sentence "Cats are animals" now be considered false, or would we conclude that what we have called cats are not really cats?). In such cases a decision is not easy to reach, but in others it seems quite straightforward.
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