Synthetic A Priori Truths In An Artificial Language

Philosophy Research Archives 7:443-460 (1981)
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I try to show that there is much sap (synthetic a priori) knowledge although one may not find many, or even any, sap true statements in most natural languages. Reasons are given for the difficulty of expressing sap truths in natural languages, but it is argued that these are not necessary features of language as such. There are, then, sap true statements in some possible languages.Admission of the sap gives one a way of distinguishing logical from metaphysical possiblity. Something is metaphysically impossible just in case it is a sap truth that it is impossible. I argue that the realm of logically possible entities is vastly larger than the realm of metaphysically possible entities.My.defence of the sap begins with a partial defence of the analytic/synthetic distinction. In particular, I attack the intentionality circle argument,Quine's indeterminacy thesis and some applications of the Kripke/Putnam theory of meaning for natural kind terms. Without being a conclusive defence of the analytic/synthetic distinction, this section makes the defence of the sap more secure. Arguments are then mounted in direct defence of the sap by showing that the purported reduction of sap truths to analytic truths is mistaken. Examples are adduced to show that, even where expressions of natural language fail, one can stipulate usage in ways that allow expression of sap truths. I then consider and reply to various objections, giving an example of the sort of meaning theory which illegitimately legislates the analyticity of any purported sap true statement.



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