Analyticity

Abstract
1. In Critique of Pure Reason Kant introduced the term ‘analytic’ for judgments whose truth is guaranteed by a certain relation of ‘containment’ between the constituent concepts, and ‘synthetic’ for judgments which are not like this. Closely related terms were found in earlier writings of Locke, Hume and Leibniz. In Kant’s definition, an analytic judgment is one in which ‘the predicate B belongs to the subject A, as something which is (covertly) contained in this concept A’ ([1781/1787] 1965: 48). Kant called such judgments ‘explicative’, contrasting them with synthetic judgments which are ‘ampliative’. A paradigmatic analyticity would be: bachelors are unmarried. Kant assumed that knowledge of analytic necessities has a uniquely transparent sort of explanation. In the succeeding two centuries the terms ‘analytic’ and ‘synthetic’ have been used in a variety of closely related but not strictly equivalent ways. In the early 1950s Morton White (1950) and W.V. Quine (1951) argued that the terms were fundamentally unclear and should be eschewed. Although a number of prominent philosophers have rejected their arguments, there prevails a scepticism about ‘analytic’ and the idea that there is an associated category of necessary truths having privileged epistemic status.
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