Analyticity in the Theoretical Language: Is a Different Account Really Necessary?

  • Richard Creath
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 16)


Recent essays by Michael Friedman1 and William Demopoulos2 on Carnap’s late approach to analyticity in the theoretical language make a convincing case for the continuing philosophic interest of this part of Carnap’s work. The present essay is intended not to disagree with any of these essays but to raise a logically prior worry as to whether Carnap’s account of analyticity here is well motivated and consistent with other attractive aspects of his view. To do this I outline, in §1, Frank Ramsey’s approach to theories and the so-called Ramsey sentence. This will allow us to trace the steps by which Carnap came to use the Ramsey sentence in developing an account of analyticity for the theoretical language. Then, in §2, I articulate my own uneasiness with what I see as Carnap’s motivation. Finally, in §3, I express my practical reservations about how well Carnap’s approach fits with other aspects of his view. This is not intended as a refutation but rather as a reflection on how we can learn from Carnap and as a reminder of how much more we have to do.


Theoretical Term Empirical Content Theoretical Language Ramsey Sentence Observation Sentence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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