Analytic/synthetic

American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1):31 - 42 (1984)
Abstract
THERE IS A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC SENTENCES IF WE DEFINE AN ANALYTIC SENTENCE AS ONE WHICH ENTAILS A SELF-CONTRADICTION. THE PAPER SHOWS THAT ALTHOUGH THIS DEFINES "ANALYTIC" BY TERMS WHICH ARE THEMSELVES ALSO MODAL TERMS, THESE LATTER TERMS CAN BE EXPLAINED BY DEFINITIONS USING LESS TECHNICAL TERMS AND BY EXAMPLES, IN SUCH A WAY AS TO GIVE "ANALYTIC" AS CLEAR A MEANING AS IS POSSESSED BY MOST OTHER TERMS OF OUR LANGUAGE. THE FACT THAT THERE ARE BORDER-LINE CASES OF ANALYTIC SENTENCES, AND THAT APPARENTLY SOME OBVIOUS CASES OF ANALYTIC SENTENCES TURN OUT TO BE SYNTHETIC IS NO GOOD OBJECTION TO THE CLARITY OF THE DISTINCTION. IF WE DEFINE AN ANALYTIC SENTENCE AS ONE REDUCIBLE TO A TRUTH OF LOGIC BY SUBSTITUTION OF SYNONYMS, THIS DEFINITION PICKS OUT A DIFFERENT CLASS OF SENTENCES AS ANALYTIC, BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS US TO MAKE A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE ANALYTIC AND THE SYNTHETIC.
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