Analytic/Synthetic and Semantic Theory
- Leonard Linsky
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A somewhat simplified version of Jerrold J. Katz’s theory of the analytic/ synthetic distinction for natural languages is presented. Katz’s account is criticized on the following grounds. (1) the ‘antonymy operator’ is not well defined; it leaves certain sentences without readings. (2) The account of negation is defective; it has the consequence that certain nonsynonymous sentences are marked as synonymous. (3) The account of entailment is defective; it has the consequence that analytic sentences entail synthetic ones. (4) Katz’s account of “indeterminable sentences” is criticized; it has the consequence that certain logical truths are not marked as analytic. (5) Katz’s semantics provides no account of truth, so that he is unable to show that analytic sentences are true and that ‘indeterminable’ sentences are not.
- Jerrold J. Katz, The Philosophy of Language, Harper and Row, New York and London, 1966. All quotations in this paper are from this book.
- Similar results are obtainable without use of the erasure clause. Consider the sentence (1′) ‘An uncle is an aunt’. The negation of (1′), by clause (ii) of the entry for ‘Neg’ is the analytic sentence (2′) ‘An uncle is not an aunt’. Since ‘(Female)’ in the reading of the predicate of (1′) has been replaced by A/(Female), i.e. ‘(Male)’, in forming the reading for the predicate of (2′), there is nothing in the reading for (2′) to distinguish it from the reading for (3′) ‘An uncle is an uncle’. Katz’s definitions thus lead to the conclusion that (3′) and (2′) are synonymous.
- ‘R subji’ and ‘R pred1’ stand respectively for readings for the subject and predicate of S 1 . Similarly for ‘R subj2’ and ‘R pred2’; and generally, ‘R consti’ and ‘R const j stand for readings for the same unspecified constituent (e.g., Subject) of S i and S j .
- Another route to the same conclusion is this: The sentence ‘A spinster is a person’ is analytic. Therefore, R subj4ø R subj5. Since pred4 = preds, R pred 4ø R pred5. Therefore (4), which is analytic, entails (5) which is synthetic.
- Analytic/Synthetic and Semantic Theory
- Book Title
- Semantics of Natural Language
- pp 473-482
- Print ISBN
- Online ISBN
- Series Title
- Synthese Library
- Series Volume
- Series Subtitle
- Monographs on Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, Philosophy of Science, Sociology of Science and of Knowledge, and on the Mathematical Methods of Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Springer Netherlands
- Copyright Holder
- Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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