Analyticity and conceptual revision

Journal of Philosophy 63 (20):627-637 (1966)
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Abstract

The view that analytic propositions are those which are true in virtue of rules of use is basically correct. But there are many kinds of rules of use, and rules of some of these kinds do not generate truth. There is nothing like a grammatical analytic, though grammatical rules are rules of use. So, this rules-of-use view falls short of being an explanatory account. My problem is to find what it is that is special about those rules of use which do generate truth. I shall argue that they are distinguished from others by their purpose rather than their content. Given their special purpose, one can explain how they generate truth. It will follow that linguistic regularities, considered apart from the purposes of those who use language, fail to provide a basis for understanding analyticity. On my account of it, analyticity turns out to be a less important characteristic of propositions than necessity. This is be- cause necessity, unlike analyticity, has its roots, not just in a contemporary system of usage, but in a wide family of systems of belief and usage. My efforts to deflate the philosophical value of the analytic will be summed up in the conclusion that analytic propositions can be contingent. I think this conclusion is behind the feeling that the propositions of logic and arithmetic are not merely analytic. For, if they were merely analytic, that is, true only in virtue of transitory conventions, then they would be contingent. Justice can be done to this feeling by the view that they are both analytic and necessary

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