Georges Rey
University of Maryland, College Park
I argue that there are analytic claims that, if true, can be known a priori, but which also can turn out to be false: they are expressive of merely default instructions from the language faculty to the conceptual system, which may be overridden by pragmatic or scientific considerations, in which case, of course, they would not be known at all, a priori or otherwise. More surprisingly, I also argue that they might not be, strictly speaking, conceptual: concepts may be importantly different from the meaning instructions for the words we use to express them. I will press all this in the context of a general Quinean “naturalism,” where the epistemology that interests me is “a chapter of natural science,” but where the science won't be Quine's behaviorism, but a Chomskyan theory of the “I-semantics” of “I-language.” But, relying on a distinction I draw between an explanatory and a working epistemology, I will be pressing it largely as an explanatory claim, not one that will have serious consequences for on-going philosophical practice, neither with regard to the world, nor, more surprisingly, even with regard to armchair “conceptual analysis.” As Putnam observed, there may be analytic truths, but they don't cut much philosophical ice.
Keywords analytic/synthetic   a priori   epistemology   I-language   semantics   concepts   Quine   Chomsky   Devitt  Pietroski
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References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.

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